The perfect location for exploration

The northwest corner of Italy offers something for everyone. And choice of location is a key issue for foreign buyers depending on what their priorities are.

For those with skiing in mind, Piedmont and the Valle d'Aosta make most sense. If beaches and a warm year-round climate are a priority, then Liguria is best. For dynamic city living or the lakeside calm, pick Milan and the lakes of Lombardy.

The fact that the Milan region is more industrialised than much of Italy gives it the advantage of excellent infrastructure. The northwest has a good internal transport network, and strong links to neighbouring countries. Transport links to the rest of Europe are excellent by car, train or plane. The Mont Blanc Tunnel connects the region by road to France from Valle d'Aosta, and other tunnels through the Alps add to the network. The St Gotthard Road Tunnel is a major link with Switzerland and northern Europe. Other major road routes cross the Alps by the Fern and Brenner passes.

Links across the Alps received a significant boost in 2007 with the opening of the Loetschberg Tunnel in Switzerland, the longest rail tunnel on land in the world. The tunnel, which drastically cut travel times to Milan, is intended to move traffic off the roads crossing the Alps. Another new Swiss tunnel, the Gotthard Rail Tunnel, is scheduled for completion in 2015, and will be the longest tunnel in the world. It will also make travel to Milan and the region much easier. Another new rail tunnel, the Brenner Base Tunnel, will improve links to Austria.

The presence of Milan as a major business centre means that the region has good international air links. Milan's main international airport at Malpensa services long-haul flights to Asia, including Shanghai, but not Hong Kong, and many major cities in Europe. The city's second airport at Linate also has flights to many European destinations. Verona and Turin also have a significant network of airlines covering Europe.

This makes the region a good jumping-off point for east and west Europe and has helped raise the attractiveness of the market to foreigners, especially from neighbouring countries.

The northeast of Italy remains relatively unknown, but its attractions and practicality make it a good choice for buyers willing to consider options outside the popular, classic locations.