Characterful Three Room Home to Renovate in Sicily, with Roof Terrace and an Almost Unbelievable Price Tag
Casa Angela is located in the centre of the medieval town of Mussomeli in the province of Caltanissetta. A terraced house on three floors, topped with a roof terrace, it is in need of a full renovation, as you can imagine from the bargain-basement price tag. However, it is large, well-situated and full of character, and the roof terrace in particular is a wonderful asset. We’re sure you can see just as much potential in the property as we can!
Mussomeli, right in the heart of centre-western Sicily, reached international fame for a 2018 initiative which gave investors the chance to ‘buy a house for a Euro’. The programme, designed to address a decline in population as well as to attract tourism and wider interest to the town, was an unqualified success, with new residents and property owners from all over the world bringing diversity and creativity to the community, besides the economic bonuses.
Today the only €1 houses left are tiny apartments, but we believe Casa Angela offers even better value. While the asking price is obviously higher, the scheme placed a lot of restrictions on buyers, obliging them to invest a certain amount of money in their new property within a fixed timeframe, which of course put them at a disadvantage when negotiating for the services of local architects and tradespeople. Nowadays, with the boom brought to those industries by the scheme subsiding, you will find better value in both of those markets.
Another big advantage of Casa Angela over its near give-away neighbours is that this property is in far better structural condition than those ‘one euro’ houses. There will be no need to demolish any of the house, and the skeleton of the property is still in fine shape. A perfect low-stress home to renovate in Sicily.
The current owners inherited the property and, while they originally intended to reap the investment benefits of renovating it themselves, they have decided to sell because their life in Puglia makes it hard to take a personal involvement in the project.
If you’ve ever dreamt of buying a Sicilian property to restore, Casa Angela is an affordable and enticing starter purchase.
The footprint of the house is a little under 45m2, which after accounting for staircases and the roof terrace offers a net living space of a over 80m2. This sunny terrace, opening directly off the kitchen, is a real gem, offering a view over the surrounding rooftops to the landscape of the Sicilian south.
The front door takes you into a long reception room with a small WC, a built-in cupboard on one side and a staircase at the far end. The fact that the only light comes in from a smallish window at the front means that you will need an intelligent lighting design to make the most of this space, but properly lit it could prove a cosy living room in winter and a wonderfully cool family space in the summer.
It will certainly have a very different feel once the detritus currently stored here has been cleared away. Of course, this will be done by the vendor before the property is handed over.
On the first floor, a small landing connects to a storage room which would make a perfect second bathroom, and a bedroom which leads to a balcony overlooking the quiet street outside. Facing south, this catches some lovely afternoon sunshine.
Another flight of stairs leads you to the top floor, where the terrace makes even better use of that southerly aspect. This L-shaped space, curving around the line of the upstairs bathroom, measures about 8m2 and is big enough to accommodate a small dining table if you’d like to bring your meals out from the kitchen which connects directly to it. This is actually fully fitted at the moment, although you may want to modernise it as part of the renovation work.
Mussomeli is a traditional Sicilian town with a population of about 10,000. Despite the influx of overseas buyers brought in by the €1 scheme, it retains a distinctive local character, with its own regional dialect (don’t worry, Italian is still spoken by absolutely everyone!), and a street market which draws in the whole community every Tuesday morning.
When we visited the property we stayed the night in the town, and were struck buy just how busy the restaurants and bars seemed to be. The initiative to reduce the fall in population and stimulate the town’s economy has clearly been a huge success. You’ll find a hospital, plenty of supermarkets, and a great variety of places to shop, dine and socialise.
Around 650 metres above sea level, it catches a fresh breeze that takes away the extreme heat of the island’s summer months.
The beautiful ‘Scala dei Turchi’ beach and the majestic Greek temples at Agrigento can be reached in around three quarters of an hour by car, and the great city of Palermo, with its world-class theatres, legendary street food scene and handy international airport, is ninety minutes away.
Obviously, there is a lot of work to do on what is very much a home to renovate. In Sicily, however, we have certainly seen far more dramatic projects, needing more technical expertise and a much higher budget.
To begin with, the flat roof will need to be sealed – as an added bonus this would allow you to create additional terrace space at the house’s highest point. You should budget around €2,000 for this work.
The floors and ceilings look good, although the metal beams need to have a layer of rust stripped away and be re-primed before they can be painted.
The electric and water systems will need to be replaced, and everything modernised. The fascia of the property will also need to be re-done, but the house right next door (to the right, as you approach Casa Angela) shows what a huge difference this kind of restoration can make to the first impression of the home.
Adding a bathroom on the first floor, in place of the storage cupboard which could easily be moved downstairs, would allow you to double the size of the terrace by removing the one upstairs. This probably depends whether your aim is to comfortably accommodate two of four people. If you’re envisaging regular visitors on a sofa bed downstairs, the second bathroom is probably a wise keeper. If you have the property in mind for only two in the first floor bedroom, perhaps a larger terrace might make the very most of Casa Angela’s best asset.
One wonderful asset which won’t show up on any surveyor’s report is that we have met the very friendly neighbors, who currently hold a key to the house. One of this friendly couple was a bricklayer himself, and there would be no better way to find a trustworthy team to carry out your renovation work.
This property is offered at an incredible price, which is honestly the best deal imaginable for a house of this size and potential. Without any of the constraints of the ‘€1 house in Sicily’ schemes, you’ll find an even cheaper way to end up with a modern yet characterful home to renovate in Sicily’s perpetual sunshine.