Pollina – Can I buy for a Euro?
Perhaps you found yourself exploring the Sicilian real estate market as a result of reading about the ‘€1 house’ schemes that have become popular in towns like Gangi and Salemi. You certainly wouldn’t be alone! The schemes have brought media attention to various communities on the island, and as we discuss in more detail here, they aren’t too good to be true! Or, rather, they weren’t…
The problem is that, as these schemes have grown and helped towns grow, they’ve brought up the prices of the labor that’s required to honor the renovation agreements which purchasers are required to sign. They can also create a slightly inauthentic atmosphere, a refurbished historic town populated almost exclusively by new arrivals who don’t have a strong connection to the area and in some cases only visit for a few weeks a year.
There is also the problem of resale value: you may not be speculating on real estate, but when you make an investment on this scale you don’t want it to end up worth less than you spent. And what do you think the market looks like for property in a town where you can buy a house for a Euro? It’s not ideal.
A safer bet – Pollina
So, perhaps your next instinct is to invest in a really solid prospect. Makes perfect sense… A blue-chip tourist resort, the picture postcard destination home to a UNESCO world heritage site, mile-long sandy beach and Italy’s first Club Med resort? The small town of Cefalù on Sicily’s north coast retains a quiet authenticity throughout the mild winters, but when summer arrives the crowds throng to the place they call ‘the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian’.
If you’re looking for a second home, this stunning spot just an hour from bustling Palermo seems the perfect option; if you’re thinking of enterting the tourist trade with a B&B or buy-to-let property, it’s an investment as solid as the iconic rock that towers over the town below. There’s just one problem: you’re not the first person to reach this conclusion! Real estate prices in Cefalù have been sky-high for decades now. While the ‘1€ house’ towns of the interior are a little Johnny-come-lately, Cefalù is a little too well-established to offer value for money.
So, what’s the compromise?
The main road from Palermo’s airport to Cefalù takes a little over an hour, and cars peel off the highway down to the charming town and crystal sea. But those who drive just one exit further find themselves in the small village of Pollina. Less than seven miles from the famous town and barely a couple inland, Pollina couldn’t be better located – but we defy you to find it in any tourist guide!
Sitting atop one of the first foothills of the mountains that form the beautiful Madonie Park, Pollina enjoys glorious views in every direction. To the east (at an extremely safe distance!) is Mount Etna, the dramatic volcano that towers over that side of the island. To the south, the Madonie, filled with nature almost infinite varieties and a new hike, walk or even ski slope for every day of the year. And to the north, the green hills roll uninterrupted down to the shore, the famous Sicilian sea and the Aeolian islands in the distance. The district of Finale di Pollina is down at sea level, and served by a train station on the main line connecting Palermo with Messina.
Pollina itself is very charming, exactly what one would picture when imagining a hilltop Sicilian village. Many locals work in nearby Cefalù, but the town has a distinct identity, hosting a festival of street performance in the spectacular open-air Teatro Pietra Rosa. The town was fortified during the Norman era, and evidence of this survives today in the form of the Torre delle Stelle (‘tower of the stars’), which overlooks the theater and was once used by the astronomer Francesco Maurolico who took advantage of the clear Sicilian skies to turn the structure into an observatory. Today it houses a small museum on the theme.
The slight elevation of the town makes for a welcome fresh breeze in the hot summers, and the Mediterranean winters are short and mild.
Testing the Market
The property here is overwhelmingly in private hands and well-maintained, meaning that while the price tags are not going to be the catchy ‘One Euro’, the renovation costs will be far lower. It is possible to buy property in Pollina and have it exactly as you want for as little as €70,000 – a fraction of what you’d pay in Cefalù.
Because of the small hilltop footprint of the village, the streets are narrow, keeping traffic to an absolute minimum. And most of the property on sale here is built up, not out. So the views from the top floor will be great, and the stairs will help you burn off the incredible local food! But there may be some access factors to consider for people with particular mobility needs.
Another thing to bear in mind is that the entirety of Pollina is subject to a preservation order, meaning that development work needs to reflect the original character of the area. We have helped numerous clients manage the paperwork required to make sure that they sail through these reasonable controls, so this is really only to your benefit as a buyer, ensuring that the timeless charm that attracted you to the idea of buying property in Sicily is guaranteed to be preserved for generations to come.
In fact, our excellent working relationship with the local historical preservation authorities and personal connections to the area enable us to guarantee the fastest possible processing times for such planning applications. And remember that the Italian government is generous with their funding and tax breaks for foreigners investing in property here.
Honestly, Pollina is one of our highest recommendations to people considering buying real estate in Sicily – the kind of opportunity we are genuinely delighted to be able to introduce you to. Whether you plan on relocating to the area yourself, owning a second home or investing in the tourist industry we think the potential of the village will be of real interest.
Sounds great, what’s next?
Perhaps you’d like to discover more about the Madonie Park and our other top recommendation for real estate potential, Gratteri?
Or maybe it’s time to start your imagination firing by browsing our database of property in Sicily?