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As travel restrictions continue to ease up across the globe, Hollywood stars have returned to their international jet-setting ways.
Sicily has been one of Hollywood’s favorite vacation hot spots this year — Jon Hamm, Harrison Ford and Stanley Tucci have all been spotted vacationing on the Mediterranean island — given it’s a place where travelers can immerse themselves in the area’s rich Mediterranean culture. Some stars are even choosing to take up a more permanent residency on the island, as Sicily’s high-end real estate clientele continues to expand.
In the early days of the pandemic, Italy was one of the first countries hit hard by the rapid spread of the coronavirus. News of strict lockdowns, devastating losses and overwhelmed hospitals marked the beginning of what was to come for countries across the globe in 2020. Today, the tourist hot spot has seemingly bounced back from its days spent in lockdown.
More specifically, Noto — a southeastern Sicilian city known for its baroque architecture — has gained increasing popularity. With around 30,000 residents, Noto is a small, vibrant town with significant architectural buildings and nature reserves, set only a short distance from Sicily’s beaches.
Sotheby’s International Realty Italy head of residential sales Diletta Giorgolo Spinola spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about why Sicily has caught the attention of Hollywood, including Los Angeles residents who are looking for second homes in the area.
“The weather is extremely beautiful and mild in winter,” Spinola said. “It is a mixture of culture, beautiful archeological sites, beautiful nature, a lot of wildlife reserves, lots of places for the beach and the wonderful town.”
She continued: “And it’s easy to reach. It has a lot of airports with a lot of flights in and out from everywhere. We had some clients from London that came during the pandemic who already had properties, and they did the lockdown there because they said, ‘If I have to spend the winter closed, at least when I go out in my garden, I have sunshine.’”
From Rome, the flight to Sicily is less than an hour at just 40 minutes, while the flight from London comes in at just under 3 hours. Up until a year ago, Sotheby’s Italian branch didn’t even have a Sicily office, but elected to open one due to a high demand for properties.
Due to non-disclosure agreements with high-profile clients, Spinola was unable to name some of the Hollywood stars that have recently taken up residence in Sicily. Mick Jagger — who has previously chosen Sicily as a holiday destination — reportedly purchased a home in the area earlier this year.
Renowned designer Jacques Garcia poured his heart and soul into the development of his first home — the Chateau du Champ de Bataille in Normandy, France — but it was the charming allure of Noto that pushed him to invest in a second property in the Sicilian city.
“Champ de Bataille occupies my time, my energy, my thoughts, my dreams, my anxieties and my happiness,” Garcia said via email to The Hollywood Reporter. “Finding a new home therefore seemed totally unsuited to my personality. Then I fell under the charm of three things [in Noto]: on the one hand, the preservation of the site —the fact of discovering a place still virgin since it had been abandoned after the earthquake of 1693 once again — as neighbors, the historical baroque city classified at the heritage of the UNESCO, and the sea.”
As for his thoughts on Sicily’s newly fashionable status as a premiere destination for Hollywood players, Garcia said “it’s great news.”
“I do not think that it is a trend that will fade,” Garcia continued. “The gorgeous weather all year round, the magnificent sea, the art and the nicest people, the Sicilians. What more can you ask for?”
As of now, Italy Sotheby’s Ludovica Infantino confirmed that Italy is back to a mostly pre-pandemic state.
“This summer, we weren’t affected at all,” Infantino said. “We currently don’t have any restrictions because of vaccinations, so people can come here and travel.”
“Tourism is back,” Spinola added, in regard to the post-pandemic climate in Sicily. “This summer, it was as crowded as before, so I would say nothing has really changed. We have a very good national public health system [in Italy], so even if you are a foreigner, if something happens to you, our hospitals will take you in.”
During times of COVID restrictions, Sicily employs a zone method, marking certain areas where there are limitations, such as night clubs and bars.
According to Sotheby’s Italy office, there are currently no restrictions for American buyers looking to purchase real estate in Sicily. As far as price ranges for property goes, Spinola cited a range of anywhere from 400,000 to 4 million Euros, which amounts to about $462,176 to $4,621,800 in U.S. dollars.
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