Affordable Two-bedroom, Family Holiday Home in the Madonie Natural Park
A roomy bungalow with an unusual history, Casa Angela is a perfect medium-scale renovation project that will become an affordable two bedroom family holiday home in the Madonie natural park, Sicily’s most beautiful mountain range.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, Italy underwent sweeping social reforms, transforming itself from a monarchy into a republic. During this period in the 1950s, the government claimed swathes of land which had previously belonged to the aristocracy, using them to create hamlets filled with social housing for families who tended the fields and worked in the nearby towns.
Just to the south of the picturesque and lively little town of Collesano, along the state road which leads to Scillato, a pair of these little settlements are (not entirely imaginatively) named “Eras A” and “Eras B”.
Casa Angela needs a full facelift, and a new infrastructure for utilities, but is in good structural condition. The roof is only 20 years old, and the building itself is unfussy but sturdy. With a lovely view across the hills to the front and a 1,000m2 plot of land included in the purchase price, this is a lovely rural location in one of Sicily’s prettiest and most interesting regions.
With the nearest beach just 25 minutes away at Campofelice, and the fabulous beach town of Cefalú just a stone’s throw along the coast from there, Casa Angela would make a wonderful base for summer holidays, an artistic retreat or an unusual little guest house. Let’s take a closer look.
Directly on the small street, the front of Casa Angela offers a pair of entrances. The first leads directly into the kitchen, decorated with traditional Sicilian tiles and taking light from the west-facing window onto the road outside. The second leads into a large living room, connected to the kitchen on the left, and with windows to the east and west.
A pair of bedrooms open off the other side of this central space, with the larger master to the front, enjoying a bucolic countryside view, and a smaller one to the rear under the sloping eaves. This overlooks a passage about two metres deep, which leads right around the rear of the property. The land climbing uphill to the east means that the view here is rather limited, but the space could still be made a perfectly comfortable one with the right decoration and lighting.
Outside you will find an external toilet (obviously a priority in the renovation work) and also a pair of store rooms. The larger of these could be converted into another living space or bedroom.
Connected to the municipal power grid, Casa Angela also benefits from a free water supply. Drainage is into a cesspool.
While the property is certainly ‘of it’s time’, some of the decorative touches could be preserved and re-integrated into the new look. The beautiful old wooden shutters would certainly be an asset worth keeping, and while you might not want to retain all of the tiles, some of them would certainly add a touch of local character and colour to what could become a lovely holiday home in the Madonie.
Around 20 homes make up ‘Borgo Eras A’, owned by a mix of local families and holidaymakers. The drive into Collesano lasts no more than six or seven minutes, with rolling hills, surprisingly green pastures and occasional olive trees punctuating the journey.
Collesano is a vibrant little town of about 20,000 people, with an active expat community made up of a mix of northern Europeans and Americans. With regular meetings, this cheerful and cosmopolitan group are always delighted to help newcomers get to know the town and settle into the unique rhythms of Sicilian life.
Like almost all of the settlements that dot the slopes of this outstandingly beautiful and biodiverse natural park, Collesano started life as a castle built by the aristocracy – in this case the storied Ventimiglia family. Under their oversight it grew to become a thriving market town, probably peaking in importance around the turn of the twentieth century, when it was a noted hub of high-quality ceramics.
Modern Collesano is split into the old town and the newer outskirts. The former has recently been the recipient of significant public investment, and over the next few years will undoubtedly grow in importance thanks to a renewed interest in the distinctive local style of pottery. While it declined somewhat during the last century, one event that kept it.
Further afield around the Madonie region, the similarly-sized town Castelbuono has a celebrated culinary history, home to the Fiasconaro bakery, whose world-class panettone have garnered the title of ‘World’s best’. Just up the road in Sclafani Bagni you can find Michelin-starred dining at Terrazza Costantino, and the whole mountain range is home to some fabulous treks, walks and woodlands. Hilltop villages like our favouites Gratteri and Pollina offer a quieter pace of life, if you like the sound of the Madonie but dream of life in a smaller community.
The nearest airport is just 90 minutes’ drive away in Palermo, Sicily’s vibrant capital city. A treasure trove of architectural wonders and cultural marvels, the remarkable history of a city that was once the second largest in Europe will never fail to surprise.
While the skeleton of the property is in good shape, the electrical and water installations will need to be fully replaced. A proper bathroom will need to be added – we would suggest using the storage room at the side. This obviously will require some modifications to the layout of the property.
The internal walls will need to be stripped back and fully re-plastered, and the windows replaced and made more energy efficient. If you are planning on taking advantage of the tax benefits of relocating to Sicily and making Casa Angela home for the majority of the year, you will want to add some kind of a heating system, as the winters, although short, can be chillier than you would think, especially once you reach this kind of altitude above sea level. Of course, if this is just to be your summer holiday home in the Madonie, you may be able to save on this investment.
An investment of around €60,000 above the final purchase price would see Casa Angela returned to its full potential, with Property in Sicily’s project management expertise at your shoulder – should you need it, of course. We have helped numerous delighted clients long after the ink was dry on their purchase contracts, with projects ranging from the cosmetic to the full rebuild.