Beautiful Sea-view Land for Development in the ‘Happy Fields’ of the Lower Madonie Park. Build Your Dream Tuscan-style Villa!
At the top of a green valley running down to the Tyrrhenian Sea at the heart of Sicily’s north coast, Plot Lo Forti is a 3.6 hectare expanse of mostly undeveloped land. The only building on the terrain is a small storehouse, built two hundred years ago of local stone and structurally untouched over the past couple of centuries. It is, in more ways than one, a high point of this typically Sicilian stretch of landscape.
As the little ‘rustico’ structure is only listed on the cadastral records as a storage space, the most vital feature of this land is that it will be permissible to build up to 350m2 of new residential property. This would make, needless to say, a truly enormous villa, of real luxury.
This patch of sea-view land for development has three wonderful benefits. The first is the size, a huge parcel of land measuring almost nine acres. The view, which easily spans the 7km down to the blue sea in the distance. Almost the only evidence of human activity is a little stretch of motorway bridge bypassing the beach community of Campofelice at the water’s edge. The town’s name literally translates as “happy field”, and from this lofty vantage point it’s not hard to see where its founding fathers drew their inspiration.
The last winning feature, though certainly not the least, is the fertile soil. Over eight hundred olive trees grow across the property. Of these, around 750 are reasonably young, planted within the past two decades. The remainder, around 60 of the most durable specimens, have overlooked these happy fields for centuries.
We’ll talk about what that might mean for your potential purchase in a bit, but for now let’s look at the property in a little more detail.
The sea-view land for development stands on the north-western side of the SP28 road, connecting the towns of Lascari and Collesano. With most of the olives arranged in neat groves, there is purpose to the land, and the combination of sun and runoff water from the nearby Madonie Natural Park means that a lush carpet of grass grows underfoot throughout. It touched the highway directly, but the developer will need to build an access road to enter the property.
This small cottage is still partially thatched, although the other half does have a tiled roof in good condition – almost the only concession to modernity. Classed as a warehouse in the cadastral records, it would need to be reclassified if you plan on renovating the structure. Alternatively we could help you apply for planning consent for a new building or buildings.
Covering a footprint of around 90m2, it has only tiny windows, no insulation and the spaces would need to be divided. One end is finished with a rough loam, while the other is exposed brick and masonry. However, it is already connected to the local electricity grid, and served with water from a metered aqueduct. Much of the raw materials could be repurposed and integrated into a new design – either on the site of the present structure or a new point we would recommend for its improved sea view – which blends the traditional and the modern aesthetics.
Outside, the gently sloping olive groves begin almost immediately from the small plateau on which the cottage has been built. This spot does offer some of the best sea views found anywhere on the estate.
The nearest town to plot Lo Forti, ten minutes up the road, is Collesano. Its 4,000 inhabitants are mostly from ancient Sicilian families, although we are able to introduce you to a growing number of satisfied purchasers from overseas in the town and its surrounding area.
The town dates back to the tenth century when it was settled by Sicily’s Moorish rulers, and was later the site of a Norman fortress, with the town ruled by a series of aristocratic families. Evidence of this period is still widely visible today, as it is in many of the beautiful towns of the Madonie Mountains.
On a practical level, you will find food shops, bars and restaurants, and a pharmacy in Collesano. Lovers of good cheese will certainly want to check out La Dispenza del Nonno, a wonderful cheese shop selling deliciously creamy locally produce flavoured with peppers and pistachios. The Tuma is a local speciality, a kind of unmatured, unsalted pecorino made from sheep’s milk.
For the advantages of a larger town, the drive down to Lascari takes about twenty minutes. Here you’ll find bigger supermarkets, a garden centre, technology and homeware stores and the main road which connects Palermo, Sicily’s largest and most fascinating city, to Messina at the narrow strait which separates Sicily from the Italian peninsula.
Along this road is Cefalù, the legendary beach resort which was the site of Italy’s first Club Mediterranean holiday village 65 years ago, and has recently made numerous appearances on the big and small screen, as a backdrop for everyone from Indiana Jones to Gordon Ramsay. Much of the hit HBO drama White Lotus was shot here. And as a final, glowing endorsement – one half of the Property in Sicily team are also proud to call this marvellous little town home.
As mentioned above, it is possible to build a vast 350m2 villa on the property if it is intended to be for a single private use. However, if you wish to use the land of Plot Lo Forti for vacation rentals or a mixed use like an agriturismo, you would have the option to divide this into smaller units, for instance a series of holiday cottages.
Any kind of renovation work on the old storehouse would require some savvy local support, both from the legal and practical perspective. There is actually an even better view available from another spot slightly across the estate, and our suggestion would be to leave the dependance where it is for storage use, and build your new villa there.
Restoring and building property in Sicily can be a magical experience, but it is not a challenge for the faint-hearted, especially without lots of expert counsel. Complex bureaucracy and the pitfalls of negotiating in a mercantile culture steeped in tradition mean that you need a team at your back who can anticipate problems and solve them at source.
While it is very hard to advise developers in advance, thanks to the almost infinite range of building styles and materials possible, we would usually suggest that building from €2,500 per square metre is a reasonable budget if you want to build your own home in Sicily. Extra costs might include a swimming pool (usually around €30,000) and any kind of outdoor landscaping.
While it would, of course, be perfectly possible to buy Plot Lo Forti through Property in Sicily and then develop it with another project manager, we do have years of experience and offer after-sales support packages expressly designed to help newcomers to the island negotiate construction and ambitious renovation projects. With multilingual support (including the local dialect), a wealth of great contacts with reputable professionals to help you with the design, legal and construction work, we can be the steady presence at your back to give you confidence as you embark on this adventure.
Beyond the building, the estate has been somewhat neglected over the past five years, and only soil moving and cleaning has been undertaken – the trees will need some care to return to their former glories.
To give a sense of the budget involved, a full cleaning of the property has cost the seller around €1000 each time, and they’ve been doing this twice annually. However, there is room for a handsome return on an investment made in the grove. Five years ago the trees here would yield a minimum of 1500kg of premium oil every year. The acidity, for those with a head for bio-produce numbers, is well below 0.3 and eight different cultivars (including the perennially popular biancolilla, nocellara and passolonara varieties) offer a guarantee of balanced, strong and fruity flavours.
With quarter litre bottles at this quality point retailing for nearly €20 in northern Europe, there is a potentially lucrative business opportunity to be seized upon here, not merely a real estate one.
However you imagine the future of this beautiful plot of sea-view land for development, talk to us about it today.