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Property in Sardinia

Overseas investors in Italy tend to dream of an idyllic property in Tuscany. For millions of Italians, on the other hand, the dream is of buying a holiday property in Sardinia.

Sardinia, 70 miles off the coast of Tuscany, has a distinct culture and a dialect so unique it almost amounts to a different language from Italian.

Yet the attractions of owning property in Sardinia have never been lost on Italians. And Italian visitors still outnumber foreigners by almost three to one.

Now Sardinia is a secret the rest of the world is now slowly cottoning on to. One wonders what took it so long.

Sardinia, the Mediterranean’s second largest island, encapsulates natural beauty in almost all its forms. Its 1,100-mile coast for instance, ranges from the spectacular rocky cliffs and coves of the north, in places such as Neptune’s Grotto above Alghero, to the inviting sandy beaches of the south.

Despite its three international airports, in Cagliari in the south, Alghero in the north-west and Olbia in the north-east, Sardinia is still a haven of unspoilt charm. And with a population of barely 1.6 million people and just 68 per square kilometre, it is one of Italy’s least densely populated regions. Even its capital Cagliari is home to just 250,000 inhabitants.

The influx of overseas investors has seen a surge in its property market. Nowhere is this more visible than in Costa Smeralda in the north-east.

First developed by the Aga Khan in the early 1960s, this stretch of coastline is now a playground for the world’s rich and famous, with glitzy fashionable resorts such as Porto Cervo and Porto Rotondo.

But prices for property in Sardinia’s most fashionable area aren’t exactly the cheapest. Expect €350,000 and upwards for a two-bedroom property.

And depending on your budget, the sky’s the limit: there is no shortage of palatial €20million villas here. By the way, Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi is said to own up to seven properties in this part of Sardinia.

Prices for property in Sardinia’s other areas is much less eyebrow-raising. The cheapest is to be found in the centre of the island, in villages such as Gavoi in the Barbagia Mountains.

However, most overseas buyers view the hinterland as too remote and understandably prefer the beautiful coasts. In addition, planning rules curb new building close to the coast, serving to safeguard the value of investment here.

If you want to remain around the Costa Smeralda, one option is to a few miles north, to areas such as Palau on the coast. Here, you can find a new-build with a view over the sea and Isola Maddelena for just €110,000.

The up-and-coming environs of Alghero are slightly more affordable than the Costa Smeralda. Around €240,000 can get you a three-bedroom property with sea view, while an extra €20,000 or so can net you four bedrooms.

Take the scenic mountain road south of Alghero, and villages such as Bosa can also prove fertile ground for property bargain hunters. The same applies on the opposite coast, where in the Orosei Gulf €170,000 can buy a villa with two bedrooms.

However, it is on the south coast, home of Sardinia’s most inviting beaches, where the real steals are, with price tags sometimes barely a quarter of those elsewhere on the island.

Beautiful Pula, south of Cagliari, is becoming increasingly popular but remains affordable, with a one-bedroom apartment starting at around €80,000.

The town is also home to Sardinia’s premier golf course while nearby lies the ancient settlement of Nora, where there are splendid Roman ruins. Other areas on the south coast worth a look include nearby Santa Margherita and Villasimius in the south-east.

On final point: typical of the laid-back atmosphere that prevails here, a good deal of property in Sardinia tends to get sold by word of mouth, so a smattering of the language and a handful of local contacts may prove useful.