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Gratteri – A hidden gem in the Madonie Park

A house for a Euro?

Perhaps you’ve heard – there are towns and villages in Sicily offering houses for 1 Euro! And it’s true – no, really! Take a look at our “one euro house” article for more information, if you haven’t already…

Gratteri is a small hilltop village in the Parco delle Madonie, a natural park on Sicily’s beautiful north coast. Although the pristine sandy beach and UNESCO world heritage site of Cefalù are just half an hour by car, and the major metropolitan center of Palermo sits just another half an hour further, this is a slice of peaceful, authentic, untouched Sicily. It’s a magical spot for a second home, or a vacation away from the stresses of everyday life.

And here’s the best bit: Gratteri is not running a ‘Sicilian houses for 1€’ promotion!

We know what you’re thinking – how’s that the good news? Who wouldn’t want a house for one Euro!? Of course, if you’re selling inhabitable properties for pocket change, we’ll take five… but the problem is that these promotions actually have more strings attached than a traditional Sicilian marionette. You can be obligated to renovate a property which is wholly run down, and, guess what, dozens of other international buyers with a contract saying they have to do the same just moved into the same small town. And there are only a few construction companies in the area, who are now looking at you all like you’re a tray of freshly-made, ricotta-filled cannoli…

So the reality of these 1€ house schemes is tricky. There were definitely good deals available when they launched, but now? The smart investors are thinking outside of that particular box. And so, we’d like to present you:

Gratteri & the Madonie Mountains

This tranquil mountain hamlet in the province of Palermo dates back to the island’s Arabic period one thousand years ago.

Its roughly one thousand inhabitants mainly work in agriculture or in Cefalù’s thriving tourist trade. It is a popular visiting point for hikers enjoying the Madonie’s plentiful nature and beautiful terrain. At 657m above sea level the climate is beautifully mild even during Sicily’s long hot summers. In the foothills of the mountainous park, Gratteri is a stone’s throw from the nearest beach and a short trip to the park’s three ski slopes in winter (and no, nobody else thinks of Sicily as a winter sports location either, so they are pristine and often quiet). The highway is just 15km away, and the international airport in Palermo offers regular connections to all Europe’s major cities. An unbeatable location.

If you close your eyes and picture a classic Sicilian village, the chances are that you’re imagining something a lot like Gratteri.

The year-round sun bounces off the terracotta roof tiles and the views roll past the typical local architecture down the green hills towards the sea. Venture outside in the middle of the day and you’ll find a peace and quiet stirred only by the bells of the town church and the gentle chip of crickets.

In the mornings Giuseppe makes beautiful cappuccinos in Bar Italia and at night Pizzeria La Villa is popular with locals enjoying the friendly service and wood-fired fare.

Stroll outside the village or hike into the hills and enjoy the park’s outstanding biodiversity, including orchids, wild mushrooms and (10km to the south-east) a stunning wood made entirely of giant holly trees. Fallow deer and wild boar are plentiful, and golden eagles can be spotted in the skies overhead.

Attractions within easy reach include the Grotta Grattara caves, showcasing the Madonie’s geological beauty on one side and the sparkling Tyrrhenian Sea on the other. The ruined Abbey of San Giorgio is a relic from the region’s Norman occupation, while down the hill in Cefalù the Abbey of Thelema is one of an entirely different nature, having once been the home of the notorious British occultist Aleister Crowley. The beautiful towns of Gibilmanna and Isnello are within a short drive, and if the car down to the coast is too much effort, in summer you can even take the short cut and enjoy once-in-a-lifetime views of the park from a hang glider!

The right time to buy a real estate

In the 1980s and ’90s, some of Palermo’s city-dwellers bought houses in Gratteri, bringing investment and keeping the village in good condition. There was no need for the splashy 1€ house promotions, and few of the properties are in need of complete reconstruction. However, the constant pull of the northern economic powerhouse cities has had an influence over the whole of Sicily, and this means that there is still a plentiful supply of real estate in and around the village. And, away from the glare of publicity, the prices offer excellent value.

Where the mythical ‘one Euro house’ will often end up costing in the region of €150,000 after redevelopment work and leave the buyer with property in a town which has suddenly become a little touristy, we have found properties in Gratteri with stunning potential which we believe can be bought and renovated for as little as € 70,000! And the experience of life here will still be distinctly Sicilian.

Whether you are looking for a winter bolthole, a buy-to-let holiday property or even a home for your retirement, Gratteri is one of our strongest and best recommendations. We would love to help you discover them, and don’t forget that we can also offer advice on qualifying and applying for the generous tax breaks and subsidies available for international buyers coming to Sicily.

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