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A tale of four cities: Real estate in southern Europe is about so much more than just Rome and Milan, Madrid and Barcelona. Or is it?
As a geographic descriptor, southern Europe stretches from the Atlantic coast of Portugal and Spain in the west to the Aegean Sea of Greece in the east. For our purposes here and for most real estate people who have the term in their job title, southern Europe covers just Italy, Spain and Portugal. Although France and Greece are both in southern Europe and are of topical interest — for wildly different reasons, although both of deep significance for the future of the European Union and the euro zone — those countries are not the subject of this article. Italy and Spain are both large euro zone economies — after Germany and France, they rank third and fourth for GDP, respectively — that suffered in the global financial crisis and the euro zone sovereign debt crisis that followed, principally through the danger of contagion from Greece’s debt issues but also from economic recession, falls in business activity and sentiment, the imposition of austerity measures, and h