Most episodes of the Italian crime series Inspector Montalbano feature the curmudgeonly Sicilian detective demonstrating a powerful front crawl below his sea-facing apartment, before settling down to a fish lunch prepared by a lady admirer. Somehow, he finds time to solve the odd murder as well. The real-life location for Montalbano’s bachelor pad is the fishing village of Punta Secca, while many of the locations are shot in nearby Scicli and Ragusa, two Unesco-listed towns in the Val di Noto in south-east Sicily. Towns in this region were destroyed in a 1693 earthquake but each was rebuilt in its own singular Baroque style.
The bygone charm of the series drew international investors’ attention to a little-known part of Italy, say several agents. “The success of Montalbano was very important for us, as it showcased an area that people didn’t know,” says Mario Schinina of Engel & Völkers. “The location is the real star of the show.” When the series first gained traction a few years ago, 90 per cent of buyers mentioned Montalbano, says Schinina. But now the baroque coast may be about to witness another influx: pensioners. Scene from ‘Inspector Montalbano’ © Rino Petrosino/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images In its latest budget, the Italian government announced a flat income tax of 7 per cent on retirees who relocate their tax residence to Sicily and other southern regions. Advocates say the repopulation could revitalise the economy. Retirees to Sicily will find it relatively affordable compared with mainland areas such as Puglia and Tuscany, says Annabel Smith of Jackson-Stops. Average asking prices in November in Ragusa were €1,100 per square metre against €1,800-€2,200 in parts of Puglia such as Monopoli and Otranto, and up to €2,900 in Lucca, Tuscany, according to property portal Immobiliare.it. Outstanding period houses can sell for millions, but a villa with a sea view and pool can be found for less than half a million euros. A pied à terre in town can be acquired for as little as €30,000. “But almost everything requires renovation,” warns Smith. On the Baroque coast, asking prices are on average 18 per cent lower than in 2007, according to E&V. The Italian economy has lagged behind other European countries in the recovery from the financial crisis of 2008, with year-on-year growth of just 0.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2018. House prices continue to fall in most parts of Italy. Asking prices in Sicily fell 0.6 per cent between January 2017 and October 2018, according to Immobiliare.it. But there are signs that the bottom could be reached in the next few years. The number of transactions on the island increased in 2017 by 4.5 per cent, year on year, according to the Osservatorio del Mercato Immobiliare. In Noto, prices of prime villas have risen more than 50 per cent over five years, according to E&V. That said, discounts of up to 15 per cent can still be negotiated, Schinina says. Buyers are typically managers or professionals with families from northern Europe and tend to seek old farmhouses (masserie) or villas, with a pool, around Scicli, Ragusa or Noto. Marina Immobiliare is marketing Castello Ibla Diga, a 65-acre estate on the Monti Iblei hills, with its own church, for €1.1m. Twelve-bedroom villa near Scicli, €3.2m © Gianni Mania Coastal villas with pools are also in high demand, with a good sea view attracting a premium of 10-15 per cent. Gardens or terraces can be hard to come by in town and attract a premium of 15 per cent. A four-bedroom apartment in a 19th century palazzo with citrus garden is on the market for €930,000. E&V is listing a 12-bedroom 19th-century villa near Scicli for €3.2m. Like the rest of Italy’s southern region, Sicily has experienced depopulation and a lack of investment.

fonte: https://www.ft.com/content/070c1588-0f4b-11e9-b2f2-f4c566a4fc5f