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Why Sicily Is Italy's Next Real Estate Hotspot



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By : Adriana Giglioli    99 or more times read
For generations it has been unfairly synonymous with the sinister Mafia. Yet Sicily is now gradually opening up to overseas real estate purchasers in the way the ever-popular Tuscany did in the 1950s and 60s.

One major change has been the increased availability of homes on the Sicilian market. Until only a few years ago, they were mainly passed down through clans. But younger Sicilians have been more willing to let go of their family heirloom to purchase a property of their own. Another factor behind the surge in demand among foreigners for Sicilian properties is its prices, which are in general not just far cheaper than Tuscany's but some of the most affordable throughout Italy.

Admittedly you will struggle to come across deals on a par with the the Euro 1 properties offered in Salemi, 45 miles from Palermo a couple of years ago after they were destroyed in a 1968 tremor. However, a mere Euro 55,000 will typically stretch to a 750sq ft fixer-upper if you are content to be a 15-20 minute drive from the beach. Budget for Euro 65,000 for a flat under 10-12 minutes on foot from the beach in spots such as Calatabiano on the island's east coast and close to the famous resort of Taormina. If you have to be a stone's throw from the beach, expect to pay just Euro 90,000 in nearby resorts like Giardini Naxos.

The burgeoning popularity of sunny Sicily among property hunters and holidaymakers has also been propelled by the arrival of new direct routes from low-cost air companies such as easyJet and Ryanair to its trio of international airports in Palermo in the north, Trapani in the north-west and Catania in the east. Another airport is scheduled to be inaugurated shortly in Ragusa in the south-east. In addition a proposal has been unveiled for a Euro 6 billion crossing connecting Sicily with the mainland. By the way, forget the overstated spectre of the Mafia, which foreigners never have contact with.

Stef Russo of Italian property consultants the Property Organiser sums up Sicily's appeal and says: "It has always been a great holiday destination thanks to its sunny temperatures, rich history, spectacular landscape and affordable prices. Until the past five years or so, there wasn't a fantastic choice of properties for sale except for in coastal resorts because they tended to remain within familes. Now a younger generation feels less tied to tradition. They are happy to realise these family heirlooms so they can buy elsewhere themselves.
"It is very possible to pick up a three bedroom villa in Sicily for less than Euro 225,000. Bear in mind some areas are expensive, such as Scopello, Cefalu and Giardini Naxos, but they have superb rental potential as they are tourist hotspots pretty much all year round."

The most popular areas with foreign buyers and holidaymakers are Taormina on the east coast and Cefalu, Castellammare del Golfo, Scopello and Trapani on the north. Expect Euro 160,000 for a two-bedroom apartment in Cefalu. If you insist on a sea view, that will probably cost Euro 200,000 - Euro 250,000 either here or in Castellammare, 1hr 90 mins along the coast.

Taormina is possibly Sicily's most sought-after spot for foreign buyers and as a result its dearest. (In comparison, prices in Catania, 30 miles to the south are often half as expensive). Luxury homes in the Taormina area can easily change hands for over a seven-figure sum. The advantage is that rental potential is huge and can top Euro 12,000 a month. Amid the high prices cut-price deals can be had if you look around.

Sicily sparkles with star quality. Sections of George Clooney's heist adventure Ocean's Twelve were made in Castellammare del Golfo while Nuovo Cinema Paradiso was shot in Cefalu.

Among Sicily's premier attractions are its majestic countryside, stunning coastline and historic architecture. The historic temples tell of the different civilisations that have left their influence down the millennia – French, British, Spanish, Normans, Arabs, Romans, Phoenicians and Greeks. The island, the largest in the Mediterranean, offers an unparalleled natural beauty too, from its 620-mile coastline to its spectacular mountains. Not many places let you have an apartment with a view over Mount Etna.

Sicily also has a number of sunny islands. Off the north coast are Vulcano, Stromboli and the remaining cluster of Aeolian Islands. To the west lie the Egadi Islands and Pantelleria and the Pelagie islands of Lampedusa and Linosa off the south coast are nearer Tunisian waters than Sicily.

All this and almost never-ending sunshine. What are you waiting for? You may end up making some real estate agent an offer he can't refuse…
The author works for property in Italy for sale website Homes and Villas Abroad.com, who advertise 3,000 Italian homes for sale. Her areas of expertise include real estate Lake Comoand property in Tuscany.

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