If you’re looking for an Italian hideaway, there are still good deals to be had off the beaten track.
The Alternative Riviera
For many, the Italian Riviera means the Riviera di Levante, the rocky shoreline that stretches from Genoa to La Spezia taking in exotic resorts such as Portofino, the popular haunt of the seriously glamorous, along the way.
But those who look no further than this will miss the bargains. The western stretch of coastline, Riviera di Ponente, offers charming sandy beaches and small fishing villages where property does not fetch south of France prices. Seafront flats, easily accessible thanks to frequent flights to Genoa and Nice, start at £90,000.
Inland from the Riviera
The further you move from the coast, the more prices fall. Take the villages of Moltedo and Dolcedo near Imperia. A three-bedroom house in Moltedo with views to the sea will cost you £85,000 and a one-bedroom cottage needing restoration for just £40,000. Other villages that have found a new lease of life include Bussana Vecchio, where an artists’ colony has grown up since the 1960s and Colletta di Castelbianco inland from Albenga. The danger of moving inland, though, is that your house may be harder to sell. You may also find water is a problem in the summer.
Calabria and Puglia
If you want to be on the coast and are prepared to travel further, why not consider the east coast of southern Italy. In Calabria and Puglia you can get permission to build new properties on the coast, but you might do better buying a trullo - the charming, conical-shaped dwelling for which Puglia is famous. Around Alberohello a small unrestored trullo could set you back as little as £60,000. A larger, restored one would cost you £300,000.
Sicily’s Unspoiled West
Most visitors to Sicily head east to towns such as Cefalu and Taormina, leaving the far west of the island relatively free of tourist crowds. But the region is not lacking in rugged beauty or historical riches. Marsala, famed for its wine, has fine baroque architecture and one of the world’s oldest warships - a Punic vessel from about 240BC - in its archaeological museum. Northwards lies the spectacular medieval hill town of Erice, and on the coast are the unspoilt wilds of the Zingaro nature reserve, where soaring mountains lead down to cute pebbly coves.