"After years of welcoming well-heeled tourists from around the world with open arms, one of Tuscany's smartest, most discreet beach resorts is in revolt against outsiders, wealthy or not.
Forte dei Marmi – the traditional summer retreat for Italian captains of industry, writers and film stars – is changing the law to try to stop locals fleeing because of house prices driven out of control by incoming Russian millionaires. The town's combative mayor, Umberto Buratti, is reserving space next to luxury villas with sea views for new homes that will only be sold to locally-born buyers or long-term residents. Other Italian resorts with similar problems will monitor the experiment with interest.
"We want to safeguard the character of the town instead of seeing it turn into a place with no ties, as anonymous as a motorway service station," Buratti said.
"Not everyone here is rich or Russian," added local councillor Michele Molino. "You look at the designer shops round here and we could be in London."
Despite the economic crisis that has kept some smart Muscovites at home, local estate agents expect up to 500 Russian families to descend this summer, following in the footsteps of super-rich visitors such as Roman Abramovich and splashing out up to €100,000 at a time to rent villas for the season – albeit a snip compared with the €20m reportedly paid out to buy the biggest villas nestling behind bougainvilleas between the broad beaches and Apuan Alps.
"Five million is the norm now, but if you go just a few miles inland prices drop by two thirds, which is where the locals have disappeared to," said a local estate agent, Umberto Giannecchini..."
Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/04/italian-resort-forte-dei-marmi-tourists