Inheriting property in Italy- on occasion….meglio di no!

I am occasionally asked about property that immigrant families left behind that may still be ‘inheritable’ by the emigrant descendants.

I’d like to tell you this story….

Yesterday at a family luncheon the talk turned to property taxes and Saverio began to talk about his high property taxes. 

Today your principal residence is tax-free but every other piece of property you own is taxed at an ever increasing rate.  (It’s value, and that of your car etc is also added to your ‘income’ for income tax purposes in a different tax-grab!) 

After making inquiries Saverio learned that he not only had a second residence in which his son is living but, to his surprise a third residence which comprises of a single room that is actually located in the house next door (attached to his).  Apparently he inherited this room when his father died and the property was divided between his six children.  A part of Saverio’s inheritance was this room which is currently located in the home of a nephew but since it is registered in his name it becomes a THIRD residence and therefore taxed at a higher rate than the second residence.

His nephew was approached about transferring the title of this room to himself but since this would cost about 3000 Euro for the notary he declined.  Saverio doesn’t want to continue to pay 280 Euro a year in property taxes (he has been paying this for several years already) on a room he does not have access to. An alternative would be to transfer the room to his own property next door which would only cost around 500 Euro.  The nephew is not happy about the possibility of losing a room he really does not use except for storage since the window is adjacent to the entrance of Saverio’s home but he is not willing to pay any of the costs associated with resolving the situation despite the fact he is not being asked to actually ‘buy’ the room from his Uncle.

The situation is tense with family members already taking sides in this issue. 

So, if your ancestor left Italy before his father died he probably did inherit a portion of any property.  A quarter, a sixth, an eighth?  Since then his siblings have probably died and left their share divided between their children.  There are now a  potential 16-32 heirs to this property.  The ones who stayed in Italy may have obtained their siblings consent to use the portion that went to the emigrants, or even purchased it from their absent sibling or even were ‘given’ the portion.  Or perhaps they just usurped it, quietly.  After all they are now only paying taxes on their share of the property, not on that of an absent sibling or their descendants even if they are making good use of it.

Now perhaps you can understand why Italians can be reluctant on occasion to meet their long, lost cousins from America, especially if they have rooms in their home they are not paying tax on!



  1. To Whom it May Concern:

    Hello, Nice to meet you, my name is Maria E. D’Andrea. I am 38 and from New Jersey, USA.

    My great grandfather came back to Benevento in 1956, to leave land, farmhouse and olive grove, to the remaining family that stayed in Italy. I have all of my great grandfathers birth info as well as his father, since you may need that to locate the land deed. I just want to visit the land, if it’s not a parking lot or shopping center today.

    They were both born in Pietrelcina, Benevento. I came by myself to Italy for 3 weeks in July and visited the actual homes, my grandparents and great grandparents were born in. Here is some information on my family. I wrote Benevento last year for my other grandparents, and they were kind enough to send me the birth certificates as well as other useful information.

    I greatly appreciate any help, or advisements in my search to find out what happened to the land, my older relatives here in America told me about. I met them through DNA test! I also found out that I am a blood relative of Padre Pio! I love and am so proud of my Italian lineage! I’ve visited Italy twice in the past year and a half, by myself, just because my culture is such an important part of who I am.

    Here is my great grandfather and his fathers names and birth information that may hopefully be of use to locate the land information.

    -Nicolangelo D’Andrea n. 4 Gen 1880 Pietrelcina, Benevento, Italia (Mia Bisnonno)
    – Giuseppe D’Andrea n. approximately 1840’s
    – Wife of Giuseppe, Philomena DiStefano D’Andrea nati approximately 1840’s
    Father of Giuseppe is Mose D’Andrea, most likely born in the early 1800s.

    If you need any more information that I may be able to provide, I will do so I’m immediately upon your request. I have copies of birth certificates. So I hope that helps.

    Thank you very much for your help in my search for my Family.

    With Gratitude,
    Maria E. D’Andrea
    – [ ]


    • can be used to search for land information. In Italy, a land title document is called a catasto. With this site, you pay 9.5 Euros and you can search for someone’s catasto. You have to click on “Visure catastali per nominativo”, then click on “persone fisica”, then check off “visura fabbricati and visura terreni”, which is land and buildings. Enter the information on the person, then click on “prosegui” It will ask in what category you are asking the search, such as a private citizen, for use in a job, or if you are a person living abroad. Enter the information about you in bottom and then click on “prosegui”. You will then have to pay and then it will like a few seconds for them to do the search.

      * IMPORTANT If they find something and they show you the document DO NOT close it or else you will have to pay again for a search.

      Alternately I can get it for you for 75 Euro.


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