The Italian Land Registry system explained in brief

Catasto Teresiano - 1751, San Pietro e Lino
Catasto Teresiano - 1751, San Pietro e Lino

The Catasto

In Italy, the Catasto (Cadaster) is the land registry which contains graphical, census and administrative data on properties throughout most of the country1. The Catasto is divided into two parts: one covers urban properties, the other covers rural land. The Catasto is used primarily for tax purposes.

Over time most paper records have been converted to digital format and updates are now performed electronically. Historically, maintenance of Catasto records left a lot to be desired, a common problem elsewhere too. With the advent of digitization, various laws have been enacted with the goal of significantly improving both the quality and freshness of Catasto data.

The deeds, rights and liens registry

A separate deeds, rights and liens registry, the banca dati ipotecaria, contains information on property ownership, indicating who has or had legal rights to a property, including mortgage liens and other limitations on ownership. Somewhat confusingly this registry is often referred to by a series of alternative names:

Note: although the word ipotecaria may bring to mind the word for mortgage lien, in this case its meaning is more expansive, covering the gamut of property rights and limitations. Many translate banca dati ipotecaria as a database of mortgages, a major, if understandable, error.

Tip: The Catasto records system contains property ownership information but it doesn't constitute proof of ownership (probatorio). Don't look in the wrong place!

Today both registries are maintained by the Agenzia delle Entrate, part of an ongoing effort to ensure better data integrity and quality. Towns and cities also have a role in maintaining the Catasto records. Since 1 July 2010 property owners must declare at closing/completion that the Catasto documents (including the floor plan or lot map) reflect the real current state of the property.

Tip: Buyers should consider requesting a sworn technical report confirming building permit and tax office compliance. This has become standard practice in Tuscany (except the province of Lucca) and in some of Emilia-Romagna.

As there are currently two separate property registries, buyers will need to request two separate records to verify both what they are buying and who has legal rights to it:

Owners can download, free of charge, visure for properties they have an interest in.

We offer an Italian property title search service for property you think you may own. Don't hesitate to contact us should you have questions about the sales process and/or wish us to assist you in purchasing property in Italy as your buyer's agent (property finder).


¹ This discussion excludes areas of Italy which were previously part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire, more or less the provinces of Trento, Bolzano, Trieste and Gorizia. In these provinces and some neighboring towns in the provinces of Udine, Brescia, Belluno and Vicenza the Catasto is a single database which also proves ownership.

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The above is offered as general guidance without warranty; changes may have occurred since it was written. Do consult with appropriate qualified professionals regarding your specific situation before making any real estate purchase.

About the author

Sean Michael Carlos

Sean Michael Carlos grew up in Rhode Island, USA. He studied in the US, UK and Germany before settling in Italy where he has lived for over twenty-five years, in three different regions.

Sean is a licensed real estate agent in Italy with over 10 years experience in the sector and would love to hear from you if you are looking to buy or sell property in Italy.

Professional assistance available

Are you looking to buy, sell or rent property in Italy? If you require an estate agent to support you, one who can help you bridge the culture, language and knowledge gap, do feel free to contact me with your requirements.

Selected properties for sale

We recommend using a tablet (best) or computer (notebook, desktop) to view the virtual tours. A mobile phone screen is too small to optimally view the scenes and to take advantage of all the tour features such as floor plan navigation. If you have only a mobile phone, we recommend viewing virtual tours horizontally, not vertically, in full screen mode.
Interactive virtual tours functionality (Click / tap to open/close 360° help)

Full screen

A full screen button appears in the upper right. The same button will exit full screen mode .

Navigation among scenes

Floor plan

A floor plan appears on the right for each scene. Each scene which is on the current floor plan is indicated on the floor plan with a circle; the current scene is highlighted with a different color circle. Clicking / tapping on a circle will change the view to that scene. The floor plan may be closed or displayed by clicking on the floor plan icon. The floor plan is closed by default if the screen is really small (e.g. phones held vertically).
When a property has multiple floor plans numbers appear above the current floor plan; tapping or clicking a number changes the view to the first scene on that floor plan.

Scene list

The complete list of scenes is available in a drop down list on the left. The current scene is highlighted. The list can be opened or closed , tapping / clicking on its icon.

Link hotspots

Link hot spots connect one room / space to another. Hover over with a mouse to see the target space name.

Navigation within a scene

Realtà virtuale

Using a table or phone it is possible to enable a virtual reality mode where the scene moves as the user moves their tablet or phone. This is enabled by default on small devices (phones). On a tablet it may be necessary to tap this "phone" icon. When enabled a "finger" icon appears. Tap to enable movement by swiping.

Automatic rotation

Scenes will automatically rotate if the virtual reality mode isn't active; the rotation may be switched off using the pause icon.


Arrows permit the user to pan the scene up, down, left and/or right.

Zoom in / out

Plus and minus buttons allow zoom in and zoom out.

Location: the geographical map

A map of the area can be opened by clicking / tapping on the pin icon. The map has a layers icon in the upper right which allows the user to switch between aerial and street views.


Ask for additional information on the property