Castelli Romani (literally: Roman Castles) are the historical villages on the slopes of Alban Hills (Colli Albani), a few kilometres south-east of Rome and Fiumicino airport. The volcanic origin of Colli Albani is testified by the two big craters on the top of the hills, now home to two picturesque lakes (Lago Albano and Lago Nemi).
During the centuries, Colli Albani have always been a peaceful retreat for Rome rich residents (for example, Castelgandolfo hosts a magnificent papal residence): many of their ancient villas and palaces can still be admired all around the area. Nowadays, Castelli Romani are a favourite destination for the Sunday trips of Rome inhabitants, and are well-known for their genuine products, such as white wines (Frascati is the most famous), strawberries, peaches and fish from the lakes. Nemi, hidden on the top of the hill, overlooking the lake, is the smallest of Castelli Romani and goes famous for its delicious strawberries.
The village is dominated by the big tower of Ruspoli Palace. The legend says that here is the root of the Roman Empire: Romolo, the first Roman King, is the son of a Vestal Priestess, Rea Silva, probably resident in Nemus Arcinum, the village which today is Nemi. Flats and country houses are on sale at about 3.000 euro/sqm.
Castellaneta Marina – Puglia
The village of Castellaneta Marina, in the municipality of Castellaneta, was founded in the 60s after the drainage of the area, with a purely touristic purpose. In fact, it is mostly composed by villas fully immersed in the pinewood. It is curious that the names of the streets mention the Moon geography and the American and Russian spacemen, recalling the space voyages from the period of its foundation. The dunes behind the beach (more and more rare on the Italian coast due to urbanization) are covered by a typical low shrubbery. Despite the strong tourism, the long sandy coast is still largely uncontaminated and the sea is warm and clean. Behind the beach and the pinewood the vast Metaponto Plane lies, home to ancient colonies of Magna Graecia (the archaeological area is near Metaponto, where Greek philosopher Pythagoras is said to have lived).
On the coast, residences, resorts and sea establishments alternate with stretches of public sea (the nearby Riva dei Tessali hosts one of the best golf courses in Italy). On the interior, distant about 20 km away, the city of Castellaneta, perched on the crest of a mountain, overlooks a spectacular canyon more than 100 meters high. With the old white town and the baroque buildings, this gem well worth a visit. You can find a good house surrounded by the aromas of Castellaneta Marina pinewood at a not daunting price: 2,000 – 3,000 Euros / sqm.
Cabras – Sardinia
Far from the splendor of luxurious Costa Smeralda, on the Sardinia west coast, Sinis peninsula and Oristano Gulf are an area of great natural and scenic interest, already known by Punic and Phoenician many centuries BC. Punic probably founded the village of Tharros, in the southern promontory of Sinis peninsula, before 1000 BC, and exploited the fertile ground and the sheltered bay. Cabras was founded in 12th century by the residents of Tharros who were escaping from North-African pirates invasions. It lies on the shore of the largest pool of brackish water in Italy (“Stagno di Cabras”) one of the largest in Europe, natural habitat of pink flamingos and other typical water birds.
The coast of Sinis peninsula is uninhabited for large stretches and it is home to beaches of great beauty, quiet and not crowded. The most famous, “Is Arutas” beach, several hundred meters long, looks white shining because of the sand consisting of small white and pink rounded quartz grains. “San Giovanni di Sinis” beach, next to Tahrros ruins, overlooked by an ancient watchtower, is long four km and is characterized by the high accumulations of sand caused by the west wind.
From Capo Mannu, on the northern side of the peninsula, you can reach the uninhabited “Mal di Ventre” Island (literally: stomach ache, but the Italian name is a corruption of local name Maluentu, i.e. bad wind), a flat extension of Mediterranean vegetation and charming coves. The Sinis peninsula has not yet had a full tourist development and house prices in Cabras are low (from 1,000 to 1,500 Euros / sqm), but the most interesting solutions are outside the town, and prices increase with proximity to sea.
Pantelleria - Sicily
Half way between Sicily and Africa coast, Pantelleria Island is one of the most southern spot of Italy. It is the largest of minor Sicily islands, with a population of about 7,000. Here, the Mediterranean reveals its strongest colours and its harshest nature: the strong character of the island has fascinated celebrities such as Sting and Madonna. The coasts of lava rock are high and jagged (a trip by boat is mandatory): the famous elephant trunk – an arch of rock ending in the sea - is the symbol of the island. The inland is characterized by a variety of wild caper (fragrant Pantelleria Capers, now mainly cultivated) and vineyards of Muscat and “Zibibbo” grapes which give the fine delicious “Passito di Pantelleria”. Citrus trees were imported by Arabs, who carefully protected them from winds by high drywalls. The island, known as “Child of Wind” by the ancient Arabic inhabitants, is the residual of a big volcanic crater surrounded by 24 smaller ones. Their activity is still visible in the many thermal sources, natural saunas and steam flowing from the stones, which are a kind of free open SPA.
The “Specchio di Venere” (Venus Mirror) is a small lake springing from an underground sulphurous source, where you can take a regenerating bath. Because of the dry climate and volcanic origin, drinking water is a rare good on the whole island: it is distributed weekly by trucks bringing it to the various districts.
The typical house of Pantelleria is called “Dammuso” and has an Arabic origin. It is a cubic farm building made of lava stones with round arch openings to counter the heat and a white dome roof to collect the rainwater. Dammusos are the most requested and most expensive homes on the island. You can find a Dammuso (even ancient) in an idyllic position, with a garden enclosed by high circular drywalls at the starting price of 4,000 euros / sqm. For a terraced house, the price is about 2,500 euros / sqm.
Massimo Viola is the founder of Liguria for Sale, a web guide for people who want to buy a home in Liguria (Italy). In the Blog Section of the site, you can find topics about Italy and Liguria tourist property market.
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