Three Bedroom House in Village with the Best Value Property in Sicily
This four storey townhouse in the Sicilian hills is a restoration project with amazing potential. Near the top of the small town of Gratteri in the Madonie Natural Park, it is on the market for an enticing sum, and there has never been a better moment to renovate property in Sicily.
With three bedrooms, three bathrooms, two reception rooms and a lovely sea view roof terrace, Casa Maria is deceptively spacious. Overlooking evocative village streets to both the front and rear it is truly immersed in Sicilian culture, a chance to acquire not only a holiday home but a way into the life of this authentic, traditional Mediterranean community.
It is in a fair condition – not a complete rebuild job by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed, one could choose to move in and refurbish gradually over time. At this price point it therefore represents excellent value.
While numerous headlines are generated by splashy “One Euro House in Sicily” campaigns, the truth is that the key to finding the best value property in Sicily is an affordable purchase and the freedom to build the property back up on your own terms. So often we find that this makes a much more attractive proposition than the heavily-regulated promotions, and this is emphatically the case with the characterful Casa Maria. Let’s talk about why.
To start with what will be at your disposal on purchase of Casa Maria. A tall, narrow, terraced house typical of this hilly region, Casa Maria’s design reflects how precious ground space is at the top of such a beautiful hill. The four storeys share a common footprint, with the exception of the top floor which is partially open terrace. In total it offers 140m of habitable space.
On the ground floor, a passageway leads past what is currently a storeroom but which could easily become a guest bedroom, with a little en-suite bathroom. A narrow staircase leads up to a much brighter level, with windows to the front and rear. Here you will find a large bathroom with a tub, and a smaller shower room adjacent to it. At the front is a handsome master bedroom with a full-length window opening onto a false balcony which overlooks the street outside.
Continuing upstairs, the second floor contains an equally large double bedroom, this time with a true balcony. At this level you are above the top floor of the building opposite, meaning that this is a fabulously airy space with a wonderful swathe of blue Sicilian sky. You’ll also find a nice little living room with a window that faces south-east.
On the final floor, a nice kitchen has been fitted with a smart suite of cupboards in light wooden tones and a little bathroom has been plumbed for a washing machine. To the front is a roomy dining room and this opens onto the fabulous sea-view roof terrace, a comparatively recent addition to the property. Framed by an iron handrail, this deep space is amply big enough for a dining table or simply a couple of sun loungers. No need to drive down to the beach to work on that tan!
From first glance it is clear to tell that some work is going to be needed on the fascia of the building. Inside the fixtures, but in all honesty in need of an upgrade. We’ll go into more detail on this work below.
Casa Maria stands between Via delle Scuole (School Street) and Via della Pace (Peace street). While this may sound a slightly ironic juxtaposition, in fact the local schools have long since moved away from the residential centre of town, and so peace and quiet definitely wins the day!
Gratteri is a wonderfully positioned town on the crest of a hill, overlooking the north coast of Sicily and the Tyrrhenian sea. We have long considered it one of the best hidden gems in Sicily for real estate, and wrote about this, and the area, at length a couple of years ago. Since then we have in fact helped several new residents make the area their home for all or part of the year. The traditional culture of the village is still predominant, but you will find an unexpectedly wide array of international neighbours as well.
Part of what draws them to this area is, of course, the stunning beach town of Cefalù, less than half an hour away by car. The real estate market in this tourist hub is something quite different, however, and for these prices you would be lucky to buy more than a garage! By choosing the short and picturesque car ride you are not only guaranteeing yourself infinitely better value for money, but also escaping the tourist throngs that fill the narrow cobbled streets of the medieval community in July and August.
In Gratteri, 600m above sea level, you will also find some other undeniable natural benefits including a fresh sea breeze, quite wonderful in the hot Sicilian summer, decreased humidity, fewer mosquitoes and – needless to say – fabulous panoramic views.
The Madonie Park is a paradise for lovers of outdoor pursuits, and also a favourite destination for foodies. Its green slopes are dotted with fascinating little villages, each with their own distinct stories and culinary specialities. In the summer you can trek, bike and explore to your heart’s content, and in winter the tallest peaks of the mountain range are even open for skiing and snowboarding.
Palermo, Sicily’s largest city and a vibrant hub of art, culture and industry, is 50km to the west, connected to the Madonie by a convenient motorway. It is home to bustling street markets, designer boutiques and Casa Maria’s nearest airport, reachable in an hour and a half.
If you are considering making an offer on Casa Maria, you might want to take a look at our guide to renovating a house in Sicily.
But what needs to be addressed in Casa Maria? Firstly, as we mentioned above, the facade will need to be refreshed on both sides. This is obviously not essential, but would be the shortest route to significantly increasing the value of your investment. We think this could be achieved on a budget of €30,000.
Inside, for around €15,000, you would be able to replace the fittings, including decorations, doors and storage. Refreshing the wiring and pipes would cost around the same again, according to our professional surveyors. We would budget another €10,000 to add a central heating system which would make the property comfortable all year round, and a similar sum to dramatically improve the bathrooms.
It is worth underlining, however, that this is a property which offers potential, rather than pressing issues. While we think this would be an excellent investment opportunity, no one element of the above would be essential to address in the short term. But if you dedicate resources, you will find you’ve stumbled upon some of the best value property in Sicily.
Get in touch with our friendly, multilingual team today to discuss any ideas you may have for Casa Maria. We would be delighted to help put you in touch with our extensive network of trustworthy designers, suppliers and tradespeople, many of whom speak English.