House Hunting in … Italy

Author Article

Andrea Wyner for The New York Times

By Alison Gregor

This three-bedroom home is just outside San Vito dei Normanni, a rural town in the southeastern Italian region of Apulia, about 15 miles west of the coastal city of Brindisi and the shores of the Adriatic Sea.

Completed in 2017, the 2,691-square-foot home includes a contemporary one-story villa with two bedrooms and a cluster of traditional structures with conical roofs known as trullimade from Apulian dry stone.

Set on nearly four acres, the property has landscaped gardens, fruit trees, an olive grove and a swimming pool.

The five attached trulli have been refurbished and include a single bedroom, dressing room, living room with open kitchen, and bathroom. The trulli complex is linked by a glass hallway to the contemporary portion of the stone-and-concrete home, also painted white, which has barrel-vaulted ceilings made from a volcanic stone called tuff. The living area has an open kitchen with a four-burner induction cooker and professional oven, among other appliances. The two bedrooms in the contemporary structure each have an en suite bath.

All of the main rooms in the home open to a patio area with a barbecue, anchored by a 50-by-16-foot rectangular pool. The contemporary wing is topped by a roughly 1,000-square-foot roof deck.

The property functions as a single-family home, but could also be rented to tourists, as many renovated trulli complexes in the Apulia region are.

A large kitchen in the home’s contemporary wing has a dining table and barrel-vaulted ceilings made from a volcanic stone called tuff.CreditAndrea Wyner for The New York Times

 

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A large kitchen in the home’s contemporary wing has a dining table and barrel-vaulted ceilings made from a volcanic stone called tuff.CreditAndrea Wyner for The New York Times

“This project was born from a completely renovated period village of trulli, to create a luxury residential and tourist facility equipped with every comfort,” said Francesco Cavallo, a founding partner of PROF.IM. Real Estate Agency, which has the listing.

Specific to Apulia and dating back several centuries, trulli are built from stone, without mortar. They were originally used as temporary field shelters or dwellings for agricultural laborers that could be disassembled easily. This home’s trulliwhich date to the early 19th century, were rebuilt with an eye to retaining their historic authenticity, Mr. Cavallo said. One of the structures had partly collapsed and had to be rebuilt by local artisans, known as trullistos,who specialize in the regional architectural style, he said.

The furniture, which is included in the asking price, was handmade by a local cabinetmaker in keeping with the home’s design.

The pool terrace has an outdoor shower, a large barbecue and a wood-fired pizza oven. Several dozen lemon, orange and other fruit trees have been added to the property’s centuries-old olive grove. There is also a large English-style garden, an irrigation system, parking for four cars, a security system and an automatic vehicle gate at the entrance.

The town of San Vito dei Normanni, with a population of about 20,000, dates to the Middle Ages and is notable for its religious architecture. San Michele Salentino, a small community with shops, is about a mile from the property, Mr. Cavallo said, and Ostuni, known by tourists as the White City because of its whitewashed old town, is 10 miles north. The beaches of Alto Salento and the Torre Guaceto Nature Reserve are about 20 minutes away. Brindisi’s international airport is about 25 minutes by car, while Bari, a city of more than 300,000 with an international airport and a cruise port terminal, is just over an hour up the coast.

In the past decade, Apulia, a scenic region encompassing Italy’s “boot heel” and bordering the Adriatic and Ionian seas, has become a destination for those seeking second or vacation homes, said Huw Beaugié, the founder of the Thinking Traveler, a company specializing in Mediterranean villa rentals.

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The conical structures, or trulli, have a dining area adjacent to a small kitchen.CreditAndrea Wyner for The New York Times

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A lounge area is set beneath a small window and arched stone ceilings.CreditAndrea Wyner for The New York Times

“It’s part of a general increase in desirability of a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle,” he said. “Apulia appeals to a desire to return to basics.”

A 2018 report by Gate-away.com, an Italian property portal for overseas buyers, ranked Apulia second among Italian regions (after Tuscany) for the volume of inquiries from potential investors, said Simone Rossi, the company’s managing director.

The area’s traditional properties, which typically sit on the Adriatic coast or in inland fields shaded by olive groves, are “very much in demand among investors who renovate them and bring them to their ancient splendor,” Mr. Rossi said. “In many cases, they turn them into B&Bs.”

Properties that attract vacation-home buyers have increased in price over the past decade, although it is difficult to say exactly how much, Mr. Beaugié said. “It’s still possible to pick up pieces of land with a few tumbledown stones for a few tens of thousand euros,” he said, while a large feudal farmstead, or masseria, “will cost a few million to buy and restore to a good standard.”

Apulia has become a destination for celebrities in recent years, with lavish weddings and parties, said Marta Calligaro, a property researcher with the brokerage Homes and Villas Abroad. “The global recession just over a decade ago saw prices fall,” Ms. Calligaro said. “But the past two to three years have seen renewed growth, with the market for second homes being its driving force.”

A bedroom in the contemporary structure overlooks the patio area and a 50-by-16-foot swimming pool.CreditAndrea Wyner for The New York Times

 

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A bedroom in the contemporary structure overlooks the patio area and a 50-by-16-foot swimming pool.CreditAndrea Wyner for The New York Times

The average price of a home in Apulia is about 1,300 euros a square meter ($136 a square foot), with the city of Bari being the most expensive area and Taranto the most affordable, although prices can vary widely, Mr. Rossi said.

A country house or seaside villa might cost about 150,000 to 300,000 euros ($170,000 to $340,000), and a masseria could run from 400,000 euros ($450,000) into the millions of euros, Ms. Calligaro said.

Many buyers plan to rent out their properties when they are not in residence, Mr. Cavallo said. Rental prices range from about 1,500 to 2,000 euros a week ($1,700 to $2,260) to 4,000 or 5,000 euros a week ($4,500 or $5,700), he said.

A decade ago, Northern Italians were the first to seek deals on vacation homes in Apulia, back when a trullo in need of work could be had for as little as 20,000 euros ($22,600), Mr. Beaugié said. But now more buyers are foreign, from Britain, the United States and Australia, as well as Germany, France and other European countries, brokers said.

The ongoing Brexit turmoil and the most recent American presidential election may be responsible for driving the “huge growth in the interest of both Brits and Americans,” Mr. Rossi said.

There are no restrictions on American or Canadian buyers in Italy, although citizens of some countries face obstacles, making it easier to buy through a company, Ms. Calligaro said.

Buyers may hire a real estate agency to assist them, typically for a fee of 3 percent of the sale price, Mr. Rossi said.

The closing of home sales is handled by a notary, for a fee of 2,000 to 3,000 euros ($2,260 to $3,400) paid by the buyer, Ms. Calligaro said.

The home is in the Apulian countryside, near the town of San Vito dei Normanni, which has about 20,000 residents.CreditAndrea Wyner for The New York Times

 

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The home is in the Apulian countryside, near the town of San Vito dei Normanni, which has about 20,000 residents.CreditAndrea Wyner for The New York Times

A personal lawyer can provide legal advice throughout the process, for a fee of about 1 to 2 percent of the sale price, she said.

In all, buyers should budget 10 to 20 percent of the sale price for closing costs, Mr. Rossi said, including a 9 percent tax on the assessed value of the home if it is being used as a part-time or vacation home. Those buying a home as a primary residence pay only 2 percent, he said.

Italian; euro (1 euro = $1.13)

The annual property tax on this home is about 1,450 euros ($1,640).

Francesco Cavallo, PROF.IM. Real Estate Agency, 011-39-08-3199-1613; immobiliareprofim.com

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Correction: 

An earlier version of this article misstated Apulia’s classification in Italy. It is a region, not a province.

Free Three-Month Trip to Italy from Airbnb

Author Article

Hi, hello, ciao, there’s someone I’d like to introduce you to. It’s future-you—more specifically, it’s five-months-in-the-future you.

Five-months-in-the-future you lives in a charming countryside village in Southern Italy called Grottole. (It’s in the part right between the sole and the heel of the boot.) You start every day with a cappuccino and a lesson in Italian language, before moving over to the vegetable garden to get acquainted with local produce. Next up is a cooking lesson, and a homemade lunch (fingers crossed that it’s pasta). Save some room for a sundown aperitivo, though.

One quick clarification: This could be be five-months-in-the-future you—if you apply for, and win!—one of four spots in the Airbnb Italian Sabbatical program. According to the company:

“Airbnb is sponsoring a unique opportunity for four people to move to the small village of Grottole for three months and experience authentic rural life in Italy. Selected candidates will become temporary citizens of the village and will volunteer for a local non-profit organization called “Wonder Grottole” whose aim is to revitalize the town’s historical center. The small village of Grottole, with only 300 inhabitants and more than 600 empty homes, is at risk of disappearing and is asking for your help!”

I mean, you really don’t have to twist our arms on this one. Hang on, what’s that, it’s all-expenses paid? And a €900 monthly expense stipend? Okay, we’re double in. Make that triple.

Join The Conversation

TOP COMMENT:
“I would love this opportunity to learn and live in Southern Italy with others that share love of food, travel, and culture. Pretty please!!”
— Gail B.

COMMENT

And now that we’ve reeled you in with that video, we’d like to present the following stream of daydream-inducing photos of Grottole, in an effort to distract you all until you miss the application deadline (Feb. 17). Meanwhile, we’ll be racing to get our essay submissions in! (And pondering how to answer the application question, “Why would you like to take a sabbatical in Grottole?” Forced choice response options do not include photos of our tiny, drafty New York apartments.)

Allora:

To learn more about the program or (ugh! If you must) apply, check out Airbnb’s Italian Sabbatical page.

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Do you ever daydream about taking a sabbatical to Italy? Let us know in the comments!

Italy’s Abandoned Villages Plan To Save Themselves From Ruin By Selling Homes For $1 Or Less

See Business Insider Article Here
By Aria Bendix

With its quaint fountains, ancient churches, and proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, the Italian village Ollolai may seem like the ideal refuge from city life. In reality, it’s losing people at an alarming rate as residents trade the historic hamlet for bustling metropolises.

In a last-ditch attempt to save itself from ruin, the town opted to sell its abandoned homes for 1 euro (about $1.14) each, starting in 2018. In exchange, owners must renovate the properties within three years — a process that could cost about $25,000.

Read more: 8 cities and towns where you can get a home for free — or buy one at a massive discount

“My crusade is to rescue our unique traditions from falling into oblivion,” the village’s mayor, Efisio Arbau, told CNN.

Almost a year after the program was announced, interest continues to boom. According to Magaraggia, a law firm that advises people on how to buy, sell, and manage properties in Italy, Ollolai received 5,000 requests for its first 100 properties. The program is now oversaturated with demand and has been temporarily put on hold as the government searches for new properties to sell.

Gangi homes 2Gangi has a population of less than 7,000.

The Ollolai initiative is part of a larger program called “Case a 1 euro,” meaning “houses at 1 euro,” which aims to lure new residents to sparse villages in places like Sicily, Tuscany, and Sardinia.

In 2015, the small Sicilian town Gangi began offering free homeswith a similar set of caveats: Buyers had to develop renovation plans within one year and carry out the plans the homes within three.

More recently, the Sicilian village of Sambuca started selling homesowned by the local government.

“We’re not intermediaries who liaise between old and new owners,” Sambuca’s deputy mayor and tourist councilor, Giuseppe Cacioppo, told CNN. “You want that house, you’ll get it no time.”

The homes cost 1 euro and range from 430 square feet to 1,600 square feet. Like other villages, Sambuca requires homes to be renovated within three years of purchase. The village also asks for a $5,700 refundable security deposit.

By mid-January, 10 houses had been sold, with much of the interest coming from foreign buyers in Europe.

Gangi dollar homesAn Australian director and producer visits a 1 euro home in Gangi.

Though the discounted homes have yielded considerable attention abroad, some potential owners remain put off by the hidden costs.

A woman from Melbourne, Australia, previously told Business Insider that she traveled nearly 10,000 miles to purchase a 1 euro home in Gangi, only to discover that the home would cost her $17,000 in fees and permits before any renovations could be done.

“I stayed there for a week and looked at all the ones that were for sale,” she said in 2015. “They were all terrible and needed to be knocked down and rebuilt.”

The homes often show visible signs of neglect, including crumbling walls, rotting wood, and overgrown landscapes.

For some, fixing these issues is a small trade-off for an Italian address. Renovations might also improve the resale value of a property, though home flipping is uncommon in Italy, given thatresidences are often passed down from generation to generation.

Gangi homesA house that was on sale for 1 euro in Gangi as of September 2017.

In the case of European buyers, they could also be investing in the strength of their countries’ economies.

As Italy weathers a recession that began in late 2018, the nation has been forced to borrow money from European banks. Nations such as France, Germany, and Spain own the largest shares of Italian debt, making them particularly vulnerable to a financial downturn in Italy.

While the Italian real-estate market is only one contributor to the nation’s financial crisis, the continued fall in property prices has placed even more strain on the nation’s economy.

Even the state government has sought to reduce its financial struggles by listing abandoned properties.

In 2017, Italy’s State Property Agency offered to give away more than 100 castles, farmhouses, and monasteries to owners who volunteered to transform them into tourist destinations.

Around the same time, the mayor of a remote village offered discounted rent and a $2,100 cash incentive to people who agreed to move there. He later retracted the offer because of excessive demand.

These Italian Villages Will Pay You To Live There — Here’s The Catch

See Author Article Here
By Laura Itzkowitz

Who among us hasn’t fantasized about ditching the rat race and moving to a charming village in Italy à la “Under the Tuscan Sun?”

If you’ve been dreaming about buying a crumbling stone house perched on a hillside, you might just get your chance. Locana, a village in the northern Italian region of Piedmont, has become the latest town to attempt to lure new blood with an offer that seems too good to be true.

As first reported by CNN Travel, Giovanni Bruno Mattiet, the mayor of Locana, is offering up to €9,000 (about $10,300 at the current exchange rate) spread out over three years to families willing to settle in the town. The catch: new residents must have a child and a minimum annual income of at least 6,000 euros (approximately $6,800).

“We’re looking to draw mostly young people and professionals who work remotely or are willing to start an activity here,” Mattiet told CNN Travel. “There are dozens of closed shops, bars, restaurants and boutiques just waiting for new people to run them.”

The town is located about an hour from Piedmont’s capital Turin and almost two hours from the famous vineyards of Barolo, Barbaresco and Asti, which have brought great wealth to the region — or parts of it, anyway. Locana, it seems, has been suffering from depopulation as young people move to cities in search of work. It’s a trend that’s playing out all over Italy, where a weak economy has made many young Italians pack up and move abroad.

“Our population has shrunk from 7,000 residents in the early 1900s to barely 1,500, as people left looking for a job at Turin’s big factories,” Mattiet said. “Our school each year faces the risk of shutting down due to too few pupils. I can’t allow this to happen.”

A vineyard in Asti, a Piedmont town known for its sparkling wines. Photo by Laura ItzkowitzA vineyard in Asti, a Piedmont town known for its sparkling wines. Photo by Laura Itzkowitz/TPG

And the mayor of Locana isn’t alone. Just a couple of weeks ago, the village of Sambuca, in Sicily , announced it was selling houses for just 1 euro. After CNN broke the story, it went viral and has apparently resulted in a flood of interest. The mayor’s office even set up a dedicated email address — case1euro@comune.sambucadisicilia.ag.it — which received tens of thousands of emails, he said.

TPG spoke with Leonardo Ciaccio, the mayor of Sambuca, who said “the official call for bids will kick off on Feb. 10, but already lots of visitors from all over the world have come to Sambuca and purchased houses available for prices other than one euro.”

According to Mayor Ciaccio, the town is home to around 6.,000 residents and offers cultural attractions including museums and theaters as well as opportunities to go hiking and explore the region’s gastronomy. The closest beach is about a 15-minute drive away in the town of Fiori Menfi. The closest airport is in Palermo, about 70 minutes away by car. According to Italy Magazine, the town was founded around 830 by the Saracens and still has archeological sites, narrow, winding streets and underground caverns.

Seems too good to be true? Of course it is.

The 37 homes for sale are crumbling and in dire need of repair. In order to get one, you have to commit to investing at least 15,000 euros (over $17,100) in renovations, which must be completed within three years. Add to that the property taxes, which in Italy are notoriously high. To prove you’re serious, you must put down a security deposit of 5,000 euros (about $5,700), which will be returned once the renovations are complete — that is, if you can get one at all.

Jonathon Spada, an American web designer living in Rome, heard about just such a deal being offered up by a town in Abruzzo a few years ago and went to the town hall to try to bid for a house.

“In that case, it was structured like a competition and there were dozens upon dozens of entrants for just the two small homes that I was interested in,” he told TPG. “Additionally, the competition required [that] a minimum amount of private funding (something like 50,000 euros) was secured before applying and an entire design project, including specs and budget.”

Sextantio Grotte della Civiltà hotel in Matera. Photo courtesy of Design HotelsSextantio Grotte della Cività hotel in Matera. Photo courtesy of Design Hotels

Spada says it seemed like a ruse to gain media coverage before just giving the opportunity to a local. He added, however, that in the case of these other towns, investing 10,000 to 20,000 euros into a property might still be a good deal, citing the examples of Basilicata’s ancient cave city of Matera — currently the European Capital of Culture — and Santo Stefano di Sessanio in Abruzzo, where crumbling old homes have been transformed into sister locations of an albergo diffuso called Sextantio.

Translated literally, an albergo diffuso is a “scattered hotel” — in essence, a hotel that operates as a collection of suites in renovated houses or, in the case of Matera, cave dwellings spread out around the town. In fact, Sextantio Le Grotte della Cività in Matera and Sextantio Albergo Diffuso in Santo Stefano di Sessanio are chic members of Design Hotels.

“You can see that the road to success lies with foreigners buying up these properties, renovating them and spending vacation time there,” Spada said.

Who knows — if you’ve got the money to spare and want to play a part in a town’s revitalization, it just might be worth it.

Featured image of the Langhe Hills of Piedmont by Laura Itzkowitz.

14 Tips On How To Travel Italy Like A Local

14 Tips On How To Travel Italy Like A Local – original author & creator of content

Vernazza in Cinque Terre PHOTO COURTESY OF GRETA OMOBONI

In many parts of the world, tourists are treated differently than locals. If there are ways you can adopt the local customs, you’ll be able to have an authentic experience and have a better understanding of the culture. When I think of places that culture lovers enjoy most and where people dream to visit, I immediately think of Italy. It’s on the top of most people’s bucket lists and even those who have been to Italy dream of returning. It’s easy to see why, Italy is beautiful and has it all –including history, art, architecture, food and wine. Beyond checking off the major tourist sites like the Colosseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, people visit Italy to experience the Italian way of life. With a unique set of customs, traveling in Italy is a much better experience when you have some knowledge and insights from a local.

Recently, I connected with Greta Omoboni, an Italian born and raised in Milan and Sardinia, Italy. Greta is a millennial who offers travel advice on her blog called Greta’s Travels which has articles on things to do throughout Italy like Venice, Milan, Tuscany, Rome, and more. I asked Greta to share tips on how to travel like a local – covering all the do’s and don’ts like when and how to eat in Italy. Save yourself from any potential embarrassment the next time you’re in Italy and read Greta’s 14 ways to travel like a local. For more information on Italy, you can visit the Italian Tourism website.

1. Greet everyone with two kisses

Regardless of age, gender and how well you know them, when you meet someone you greet them with two kisses, one on each cheek. Italians are very affectionate people and aren’t afraid to burst your personal space bubble to say hello. Two kisses are the common greeting in Italy and anything less will just look awkward.

2. Don’t order a cappuccino after 11 AM

Cappuccino is strictly a breakfast drink. If you order one anytime after 11 AM, especially with a meal, people will think you’re either weird or had a huge night out and only just woke up.

VenicePHOTO COURTESY OF GRETA OMOBONI

3. ENJOY A MID-AFTERNOON “RIPOSINO”

Foreigners often complain about shops closing at lunch break. Unfortunately, that is the reality of things in Italy, especially in summer. The stifling noon heat makes everybody hide from the sun during the hottest hours of the day. Take a “riposino” (a nap) and try again after 4pm, you will have better chances of finding open shops.

4. Don’t put ketchup on pasta or pizza

Every time you ask for ketchup in a restaurant you break an Italian chef’s heart. Ketchup is totally acceptable on a burger or fries, but if you put it on pasta or a pizza you will stand out like a sore thumb in Italy and earn yourself some disapproving nods from the people at nearby tables.

5. Start your day with a sweet breakfast

The classic Italian breakfast is a sweet pastry of some sort, a coffee or cappuccino and occasionally orange juice. Most hotels and restaurants won’t even serve a cooked savoury breakfast. So, embrace the start of your new Italian day by heading to the closest bar and ordering “un caffé” to drink at the counter with your croissant and orange juice.

Manarola in Cinque TerrePHOTO COURTESY OF GRETA OMOBONI

6. Dress up

This isn’t just a stereotype, Italians like to dress well. Despite some Italians being casual, the majority are well dressed. So, on your next trip to Italy show off that new dress or pair of sunglasses and you will blend right in with the fashionable locals, especially in Milan.

7. Don’t visit in summer

Summer is the worst time to visit Italy and when a lot of Italians leave the country. With the school holidays and nice weather, tourists from all around the world flock to Italy, making all the prices skyrocket. If you’re visiting a city like Rome or Milan, the Italian heat combined with the crowds will make it a particularly unpleasant experience. Instead, try to visit in spring or autumn, when the weather is still mild, the prices cheaper and places not as overcrowded. Early June is ideal, when the days are still long and the prospect of the upcoming summer puts everyone in a good mood.

8. Don’t stand in lines

Italians have a special way of queuing, they try to avoid it where possible. You will find there are informal queues everywhere you go – whether you’re buying a ticket at the cinema, ordering food at McDonalds, or waiting to board a plane. Lines resemble more of a mob instead of an orderly line. This is normal in Italy and you have to learn to make the most of it if you don’t want the worst seat on the plane. Wiggle your way to the front and stand with the attitude as if that is your rightful spot in the queue. People will rarely challenge you, mostly because to be at the front with you they probably also cut the queue.

Greta Omoboni on a gondola boat tour in VenicePHOTO COURTESY OF CRISTINA FIORENTINI

9. Embrace the “aperitivo” way of life

In case you didn’t know already, Italians love food. Since three meals a day aren’t enough for us to properly enjoy all our tasty cuisine, we decided to add a meal between lunch and dinner; the glorious “aperitivo”. Intended as a pre-dinner this can often turn into a full-on dinner depending on where you are. If you sit down for an aperitivo between 5pm and 8pm, most bars will bring you crisps, pizzas and all sorts of snacks and nibbles with your Aperol Spritz (the aperitivo drink by definition). A lot of places have evolved into the “aperi-cena” where with 10 EUR you can get a drink and an all you can eat buffet. Aperitivo is usually the most common type of social hangout and if you want to really blend in in Italy, consider trying one out.

10. Stop and talk to people

In Italy, no one is in a rush. Regardless of what commitments you may have, if you bump into someone you know in the middle of the street, you stop for a chat. Yes, you might be late for your restaurant reservation, but chatting with the locals is important to better understanding the local way of life and generally people run late anyway. Be polite when someone says hello and remember the phrase “buona giornata” which means “have a good day” when you say bye.

11. Drink only water, wine or beer with meals

Both at home or in restaurants the most common drinks will always be water, beer or wine. Most restaurants don’t serve cocktails. Children can drink sodas with meals but adults should steer clear as it’s perceived to cover up the taste of the food whereas water will allow you to properly enjoy your meal.

Vernazza in Cinque TerrePHOTO COURTESY OF GRETA OMOBONI

12. Do things later

Everything happens later in Italy. You wake up later, have lunch and dinner later, and go to bed later. If you ask your new Italian friends to have dinner any earlier than 7 PM they will look at you in horror.

13. Speak with your hands

Once again, this isn’t just a stereotype. Italians gesture a lot while talking, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. We find it adds to the conversation, especially if you’re explaining directions. Give it a go, next time you talk to someone in Italy, throw in some hand gestures for good measure – it will make you easier to understand!

14. Have your coffee at the counter

In Italy, if you order a coffee at the counter you will never pay more than 1 EUR, 1.50 at most. However, if you sit down at a table they can charge you as much as they want because of cost of service to bring it to you. In prime tourist spots such as Piazza Duomo in Milan or Piazza San Marco in Venice this can be even more than 5 EUR. Be like the Italians and save yourself some cash by having your coffee on the go at the counter. You can order it by saying “un caffè per favore”.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/monicahoughton/2018/01/16/14-tips-on-how-to-travel-italy-like-a-local/#716a0b1c6b62