Fleur Kinson explores the best property prospects around Sicily, where excellent property prospects abound, along with terrific scenery, friendly towns and a temptingly laid-back pace of life
Photos by iStock
Summers in Sicily are hot and the weather stays pleasantly warm throughout the winter. This favourable climate attracts not only peak-season holiday-makers but also those looking for some winter sunshine. Serving these sun-seekers are several Blue Flag beaches, as well as numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites for excursions away from the beach, and of course Etna and Stromboli, the island’s famous volcanos.
Once relatively inaccessible (though not, it would seem, to the Greeks, Arabs, Normans and Spanish, all of whom have left their mark) Sicily is now well-served by international airports at Palermo, Catania and Comiso.
From Palermo going east to Milazzo is the Tyrrhenian coast, which is packed with popular holiday resorts and beaches. The most popular is Cefalù, a seaside town with medieval streets and a long, sandy beach. Inland from here you’ll find it rather less touristy, with mountain villages and parks.
Taormina and the northeast encompasses the Ionian coast between the Straits of Messina and Catania, and is the most popular tourist area on the island. It is also home to Europe’s largest active volcano, Etna. Taormina is Sicily’s best-known resort, offering a place to stay for every budget. It is also now world famous for its film festival and has a number of other cultural events throughout the year.
The southeast corner of Sicily has scenic countryside, stunning beaches, and is largely unspoilt. Syracuse is an elegant, ancient city fusing Greek design and 18th-century Baroque architecture. Further south is dazzling Noto, rebuilt in the early 18th century after a devastating earthquake.
Further inland, Ragusa is a charming provincial town. Its neighbour Modica has top food, stunning architecture and delicious chocolate to offer. The Riserva Naturale Oasi Faunistica di Vendicari, a protected stretch of coastal salt marshes, is a haven for rare birds.
Tourism here has also recently benefitted from the popular Montalbano books and TV series.
Central and southern Italy
The centre and south of Sicily is a region of great contrasts. The ancient landscape is mountainous in parts and reflects the agricultural and industrial endeavours that have characterised this area through the centuries. It is an area of great natural beauty with isolated towns reflecting a quieter pace of life.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site at Piazza Armerina, the Villa Romana del Casale, is a magnificent Roman country residence. Further south you can enjoy Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples, an extraordinarily well-preserved site of Ancient Greek remains, and the ruins of the Greek city of Akragas.
Palermo and the west
Palermo is Sicily’s capital and largest city. Exotic and bustling, it is a mix of Middle Eastern, North African and European influences, both culturally and architecturally. With a population of more than half a million it has everything you would expect from a modern city, including excellent transport links.
To the west of Palermo, the terrain becomes rugged and is peppered with Greek ruins. This is one of the areas of Sicily that is most off the tourist trail. But its tranquility makes it a must-see as the coastline has a lot to offer with its clear waters and tiny coves. Part of the shoreline is incorporated into the nature reserve of Zingaro. Characterful resorts dotted along the coast include Trapani, Marinella, Erice and Marsala, with great hotels and excellent food.
For an in-depth exploration of the island’s property potential, see Fleur’s Homes in Sicily article.