If I have understood correctly, PJM is enjoying the best of both worlds, (and he's not tying up any capital in a potentially difficult to sell Italian property).
The option of taking on a long term (3 or 4 years) rental of an Italian house, say at €500 a month (= €6000 a year), and then renting it on as a holiday let for €800 per week in the good season, you only need 8 weeks rental to more than cover your own rental costs. The house is available for your own holidays, or longer stays, for 44 weeks of the year - a benefit which is pretty cheap if all you are paying for it is your utility bills and the lessee's part of the property taxes! Serious maintenance costs (or landslip/quake disasters) will be the responsibility of the landlord - not you.
What's not to like about this solution? Well, you may not get enough holiday rentals; so you are forking out €6000 a year (plus property taxes) for a place where you and your family and friends can always holiday free of charge throughout the year - that's not a lot of money if you look at any timeshare options.
The main downside, in British eyes, is the conviction that 'property is gold, and will never lose value', coupled with the notion that as a freeholder you can build (or alter) your own 'castle'. As somebody mentioned above, your comune might well frustrate you on the 'castle' front, and not only if you are in a centro storico - watch out also for AONBs which abound in l'Abruzzo.
Now there are people who really have a passion for seriously fiddling about with buildings, or with land, (and I'm one of them!) and they are absolutely going to have to own their own place. These people might well be attracted to buying in a location which seems absurdly affordable, just so they can get their mitts on a project big and exciting enough, and they'll often have an experience which delights them. Sometimes, though, they will have bitten off much more than they can chew, and it all goes pear-shaped. Other times it works for a good while, but then circumstances dictate a change, and this is when the 'received UK wisdom' that the property market is liquid (in Italy) bites them very hard.
If you have plenty of spare cash (magari) then every indulgence is possible; but if you are relatively struggling, then committing whatever capital you have to the purchase of a house in rural Italy might not be a sensible financial move.