The beaches of Italy's Amalfi coast are among the most exclusive and glamorous anywhere in the world. That’s hardly a surprise. Its 70-mile shoreline offers breathtaking views as its winds through picturesque towns and villages such as Amalfi, Ravello and Positano
Little wonder that since it became a staging post for Victorian-era upper-classes on the Grand Tour, it has attracted the world's rich and famous. It has price tags to match as well. A property overlooking the coast here can leave you with little change from $4m.
Yet if you are prepared to travel a short distance from here, you soon find the same natural spendour and more – but without the hefty property prices. Say hello to a little-known secret that Italians have kept to themselves for far too long. Say hello to the Cilento coast. The Cilento coast is a little over 80km to the south of the shores of Amalfi runs for nearly 160km. It also borders he Cilento national park, the second biggest in Italy and – along with Vallo Di Diano National Park – a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Apart from perhaps Paestum, the names of its resorts – Castellabate, Cape Palinuro, Casal Velino – do not exactly trip off the tongue and don't make it onto many tourist itineraries. Nonetheless, they offer the same potent mix of lovely coastal towns and villages, balmy weather and breathtaking views over the sea but without the expense of the Amalfi area – which remains near enough to be visited on a day or weekend jaunt.
Paestum – a town whose roots go back to the seventh century BC and which features imposing and well-preserved Greek artefacts – is another Unesco World Heritage Site. Yet a 50sq m condo here may set you back just $100,000. As a rule, on the Cilento coast you should be prepared to pay approximately $120,000 for a one-bedroom flat and $190,000 for two bedrooms – scarcely a fifth of what you would pay on the Amalfi coast. Even better, some digging around – and a bit of luck – can yield even more savings. One example: in Ascea, one-bedroom sea-view home recently came on the market at $100,000 and a second merely 70 yards from the beach at $85,000.
Two of the prime locations are located at almost opposite ends of the Cilento coast, namely Agropoli and, some 90 minutes to the south, Scario. Prices will be slightly more costly here, but again, shopping around can unearth a bargain. In Agropoli, a complex of new-build condos around 1.5km from the coast recently came up for sale starting at $145,000 for one bedroom. If you absolutely require a coastal view, budget around $160,000 for a one-bedroom and a further $10,000-$15,000 for a couple of bedrooms.
As ever, prices drop markedly if you don't mind taking on a home that may be liveable but needs some fixing up. But for house-hunters drawn to the countryside but for whom a sea view is essential, the hills overlooking Casal Velino are a superb and affordable alternative, with a new-build one-bedroom apartments available from as little as $90,000.