Three-storey, Two-bedroom Home in Gratteri: Fabulous Example of a Bargain Property to Renovate in Sicily
A three-storey, two bedroom with amazing potential, Cassetta Rosa is a fantastic example of the value you can find when buying property to renovate in Sicily. While mostly in good structural condition, the cosy terraced cottage has a lot of work needing to be done to bring it up to the level of property it deserves to reach.
At the centre of Gratteri, a characterful little town on the northern edge of the Madonie Natural Park, within easy reach of Cefalù, Castelbuono and the island’s Tyrrhenian coast, it would make an ideal base for regular visitors to our fascinating island, or a nice investment as a rental property.
The historic house has some beautiful historical energy, and a careful restoration will turn it into a characterful and charming little home. The exposed wooden ceilings, traditional Sicilian terracotta floors, thick walls and marble staircases are all testament to a long history and careful local craftsmanship, and you will have plenty of inspiration as you set about designing the finished property to work towards.
There are four main rooms in the property, with a lot of different possibilities for the final configuration. Whether you prefer to use the largest space for a master bedroom or an open-plan living area, and if you want to settle for one bedroom or add a second, everything will depend on the final use you imagine for the house. But one thing is for sure, you won’t be short of options!
We think that the asking price is more than reasonable for a property of this size, even allowing for its current condition. Honestly, for all the hype around the ‘€1 Homes in Sicily‘ promotions, we think this offers even better value.
Later on we will present a suggested budget to completely revitalize Casetta Rosa, but for now let’s take a look at it as it currently stands.
Gratteri has grown up almost at the crest of a hill which rises to around 750m above sea level. This sloping ground means that the entrance to Casetta Rosa manages to be below the level of its own street. This creates a kind of terrace to the front, defined by green leaf-covered walls. Although the land does not belong to the property, it gives the front door a little space and seclusion.
You enter through a rather low door into a roomy entrance hallway, certainly large enough to add a few cupboards or dressers for storage. The room to your right is a spacious kitchen, at least in the building’s current configuration. A rather dated sink unit at the far end will probably be an early victim of renovation work. Light comes from a high window to the front, and it would be nice if this could be enlarged.
Also on this ground floor is a little internal bathroom with a shower unit. The ceilings are exposed wood and in good condition. A marble staircase curls up past a little window and leads you to the first floor.
Here we find the largest room in the house, an unbroken space of over 20m2 with a small walk-in closet under the staircase. This is lit by windows on two sides, one offering a nice view on the quiet street outside. The staircase continues up to take you to the second floor.
The roof of Casetta Rosa slopes from one side of the property to the other, creating a very tall ceiling at one side of the top storey, tall enough even to accommodate a mezzanine floor or loft, albeit perhaps for storage rather than accommodation. On this level the space is divided into two smaller rooms, the smaller of which has a narrow storeroom branching off it at the far end. These could become a double and a single bedroom, a bedroom and a study, or perhaps you might want to move the kitchen upstairs, in a configuration which is fairly common to Sicilian houses of this age.
We’ll go into more details about how you could revitalise this property to renovate in Sicily below, but the good news is that the roof, balcony, staircase and the structure of the first floor are all in good condition. There are some lovely tiles, hardwood shutters and internal doors which could be incorporated into a rustic final design.
The property is connected to the municipal mains for water and electricity.
Via Ruggieri, the quiet street on which Casetta Rosa stands, is just one street behind Corso Umberto, the main thoroughfare into Gratteri. Here you will find a variety of shops and services, including a couple of bars, a newsagent’s, a butcher’s, a GP’s surgery, a dental practice and a bakery. With a small supermarket, a pizzeria and a restaurant just around the corner, all your day-to-day supplies are within easy reach on foot.
To the side of the property is a very small but characterful courtyard. It might well be possible to reclaim this and create an opening onto it, giving you access to a miniature terrace.
The surrounding hillsides of the Madonie Natural Park are a cultural and natural delight. Filled with rare species of wildlife, stunning panoramic views and opportunities for trekking, hiking and cycling extending seemingly in every direction, almost from your front door, this is a heaven for lovers of the great outdoors. Foodies and culture vultures will never tire of discovering the park’s myriad towns and villages, many of which date back to the Norman occupation of the island. Each has their own artistic, architectural and in many cases archaeological treasures to uncover – and of course their specialities to eat and drink.
The most popular Norman town of all is Cefalù, down at sea level and just half an hour away by car. This picture-perfect beach community grew up around the natural rocky outcrop which towers over the town, but today tourists flock in their droves to enjoy the two kilometre strip of golden sandy beach and admire the UNESCO-protected cathedral at the heart of the old town.
If you want a quicker, and usually quieter beach, the nearest to Gratteri is at Lascari, where the crowds are invariably thinner. You can get there in just twenty minutes.
Sicily’s capital city, Palermo, is reachable in just an hour. Here you will find storied street food, Michelin-starred fine dining, legendary outdoor markets and exclusive fashion houses, talented street musicians and the greats of opera in Europe’s most acoustically-perfect theatre. Falcone-Borsellino international airport will connect you to all of the continent’s major travel hubs in just a couple of hours.
The most important structural improvement which the buyer will need to make to Casetta Rosa is the reinforcement of the floor on the top level of the property. For this you should calculate a budget of around €20,000.
Once this is completed, new infrastructure will be needed for electrics and water – the exact details, of course, will depend on what kind of layout you want for the property. We estimate the cost for these two, however, at around €12,000. Adding a heating system would make the house comfortable year-round, and would require another €5,000, indicatively.
You will surely want to refurbish the ground floor bathroom, and perhaps create a second one on one of the upper levels – either an en-suite to a bedroom on the big open first floor, or a small one on the second. Whether on the ground or top floor, a kitchen will need to be designed and added, and at local prices this will require around €8,000.
If you are planning on using the downstairs room as a cosy living space you might want to consider adding a pellet-burning stove or similar – this could help with the heating situation. These energy-efficient devices still qualify for subsidies under the Italian ‘Ecobonus’ system for green home improvements. So, too, do energy-efficient windows. We think there would be great value in enlarging some of the windows in the property, but this will obviously push the budget higher in a hurry.
In the opinion of one of our architect colleagues, it would be possible to buy and renovate Casetta Rosa for a total investment around €100,000. For this work you would even be able to count on our assistance as project managers, an after-sale service which we have been delighted to offer to numerous delighted clients engaged in similar projects with this kind of property. To renovate in Sicily your costs can vary a lot depending on what kind of deals you can make with local tradespeople, and our position as trusted local realtors with an international client base gets us access to the very best deals on the market.
For a full consultation on Casetta Rosa or any of our other properties in Gratteri or beyond, including unbeatable locally sourced advice on local designers, architects or tradespeople please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly international team today.