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The Girl Next Door

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes house hunting in Tuscany

International Business Times
By Sarah Kendell

Skilfully avoiding the more volatile European second home markets, high-profile Hollywood couple Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are looking for a holiday villa in the popular Italian region of Tuscany to add to their property portfolio.

The "Mission Impossible" star and his ex-"Dawson's Creek" actress wife, who chose Italy as the location for their wedding in 2006, are particularly interested in a 12 bedroom villa near the walled city of Lucca, reports the Daily Mail. The couple have already signed an option on the sprawling Villa Mammoli, which also features 15 bathrooms, a pool and a private chapel, and is on the market for £16 million.

Rupert Fawcett of international estate agents Knight Frank says in terms of property investments the couple have made a wise one, with Tuscany's continuing popularity with tourists and convenience to beach and mountains making it an enduringly high-priced area. "The second homes market [there] has fared relatively well compared to other European destinations", Fawcett told the Mail. "Prices dipped during the recession, but will stabilise in the long term."

According to the Telegraph, which featured Italy in its list of the 10 best places to retire last week, home values are currently between 5-20 percent cheaper nationwide than they were in September 2008, with the Cruises' bolthole in northern Tuscany representing one of the best value options."Tuscany is expensive in most areas, but for more affordable prices, look to the north of Lucca", says Karen Roos of specialist Tuscan agents Casa Tuscany. "It is beautiful, reasonably close to the sea and mountains and only an hour from Florence."