Seismic hazard

Earthquakes do happen in Italy, and they cause casualties and severe damages. 

Seismic hazard classification
When you start searching for a house to buy in Italy, one of the things you have to be aware of is seismic hazard. Every Italian municipality is classified in one of 4 risk zones.
⦁ Zone 1 (purple colours on the map) is the most dangerous area, where major earthquakes occur, with devastating consequences for many buildings in the area
⦁ Zone 2 (red, orange and yellow on the map) are municipalities which may be affected by quite strong earthquakes with subsequent damages to buildings
⦁ Zone 3 (green and blue) is an area with risk of modest earthquakes, and
⦁ Zone 4 (grey) is considered rather safe, with low probability of seismic damages.
(source: Italian Civil Protection)
The only region in Italy that is considered to be non seismic is the island of Sardinia.

Seismic hazard map Italy

Real estate prices are influenced by what zone the property is situated in. So always check the municipality. Sometimes advertisers deliberately put a property in a neighbouring municipality, usually when that property is located close to the border with a municipality which has a safer classification.

Home insurance
Be aware that insuring your house for damages by earthquakes will be very expensive if you are located in Zone 1, unless of course you can demonstrate that your house was built or renovated according to anti-seismic criteria. 

Building regulations
In case of renovation of private buildings, any antiseismic intervention remains on a voluntary basis. However the government does encourage antiseismic upgrades by offering a tax bonus (sisma bonus). Only in the following cases seismic assessment and improvement is mandatory
  • any additions to be made to the existing building, either outward or upward; 
  • changes in intended use of the building, which would put an additional load on the foundation of the building;
  • structural interventions that would transform the body of the building.
There is certainly a range of interventions to adapt or improve the seismic characteristics of a house available to home owners and buyers. The choice of the best seismic adjustment intervention must be made by a competent technician on the basis of diagnostic investigations and laboratory tests.

We will not enter too much in detail about earthquake history here, but who wants more information can consult this list of earthquakes on Wikipedia.