Cianciana, a mountainside Southern Italian village with picturesque views of the Mediterranean, offers small town charm with a low cost of living. With homes available for around $90,000, Cianciana is an attractive and affordable option for foreigners seeking a Mediterranean island paradise, without the high cost. For more on this, see the following article from International Living.
Unspoiled, friendly and affordable—is that too much to ask? We hoped not. We had been living in Burgundy for almost five years. Every year, the winter got longer, and the seaside farther away. So, we turned to the south—the Mediterranean and Sicily.
It was one place that neither I nor my husband had visited. Our online searches led us to the town of Cianciana in the province of Agrigento. This is a charming mountainside town at an elevation of about 390 meters. The most beautiful beach (Eraclea Minoa) is about a 30-minute drive, and on a clear day you can see the sea from the top of town, and from many a terrace.
Our first time on the island, we took a ferry from Genova to Palermo, and drove the small roads down to Cianciana. It was about 9.00 p.m. when we arrived, on a balmy September evening four years ago, and our entire vocabulary of Italian consisted of per favore and grazie. While we were pondering where the piazza might be, and marveling at the warmth, a woman sitting in front of her house said, “Good Evening! What are you looking for?” In English! This was a bit of a shock, but she pointed us up the hill to a clock tower and a cafe with a terrace that overlooks the town.
From the first, we were overwhelmed by the kindness of people here. We are learning Italian slowly through a free program offered by the Communa (Town Hall), and get to know more and more people each year. But why did we so easily run into someone who spoke English within minutes of our arrival? Well, this is southern Italy, and in this town alone, more than 3,000 people immigrated to England in the 1960s, as well as France, Australia, Germany and the U.S. Many kept their homes here, and return every summer for the Festa, and many have come back to retire or start businesses. (Yes, even in this economy, new small businesses are opening in Cianciana.)
Property? The prices are so below the average for a Mediterranean island, we couldn’t believe it. There are many town houses available, and ready to move into for between $60,000 and $90,000. However, if you’re happy to do some renovation work, you can find dozens of town properties for as low as 15,000 euro ($22,000). Of course, properties with land are more expensive—but we have a friend who recently purchased 11 acres, with 20 olive trees, fruit trees, and stunning mountain views toward the sea, just outside of town, with an existing ruin, and permission to build. He paid less than $90,000.
It is the people here that really make Cianciana special. Even within Sicily, Cianciana is known for its hospitality and welcome. Benvenuto!
This article has been republished from International Living.