Incredible Italian palace used by Napoleon: for the price of a Belgravia flat

Historic 74-room mansion hits the market for £3.8 million. Where would you rather live?

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Villa La Voglina is an incredible 74-room mansion, set in 60 acres of beautiful Italian scenery. The 18th century villa was considered sumptuous enough to be used as Napoleon Bonaparte's headquarters while be was orchestrating the Battle of Marengo, and still features the three black and white marble staircases and private terrace built by the French leader while he was in command.

The owners can enjoy the 13 bedrooms, ten reception rooms, two kitchens, two dining rooms, nine bathrooms, and the private chapel. If that's not enough space for them, there's always the guest house, the formal gardens, the woodlands (which are apparently rich with truffles) and the vineyard - which at the moment isn't in use but has permission to be restored - and could produce 100,000 bottles of wine a year.

At the moment not all of the villa is in use - and while the central and east wing are used by the occupants, if you wanted to occupy the whole of the house, you'd need a significant budget to bring the rest of it up to scratch.

Compared to London

However, if the buyer hails from London, even a property in need of renovation is going to seem like something of a bargain at £3.8 million. At the moment in this kind of range there's a two-bedroom flat on the market in Belgravia, a three-bedroom flat in Notting Hill, a 6-bedroom semi in Highgate and a 7-bedroom house in Wimbledon. Of course, Northern Italy is a bit more a commute into the city, but with 74 rooms you could bring half of the city to you.

Alternatively, with this kind of budget in Italy, you could afford a fabulous newly-restored five-bedroom villa in Venice, an entire medieval hamlet in Tuscany (divided in 15 holiday properties complete with a swimming pool), or a 32-bedroom castle in Umbria (divided into 19 apartments and refurbished by a fashion designer).

This level of affordability is partly because buyers can benefit from one of the most positive exchange rates in a while, but it's largely because house prices in Italy are on their way down. They fell 4% last year, and around 6% in both of the previous two. Prices look stronger in urban areas as we go into 2015, but for rural mansions like Napoleon's palace, demand remains low, and so buyers are in a good position to negotiate an even better deal.

But what do you think? Is London hideously overpriced, or rural Italy dramatically under-priced? And if you had the money, where would you rather live?

Take a tour of Villa La Voglina. Click on the image below to see more of the property



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