Romantic holiday homes: Italian lakes, Anguilla and Scotland's St Andrews

Reignite romance with a second home in a romantic setting, suggests Cathy Hawker
Many of the most memorable romantic gestures start with a plane ticket. But rather than just a fleeting visit to a heart-stopping destination, how about a permanent home from home to help fan the flames of passion long after St Valentine's Day has passed?

Italy
From £304,000: with views over Lake Como, Italy, loft apartments in a converted factory in Cernobbio are for sale through Cluttons (cluttonsitaly.com)

Italian lakes: they're amore
The Italian lakes have attracted serial romantics for centuries. Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Robert Browning found inspiration in the steep mountains encircling deep clear water with a micro-climate that encouraged spectacular, colour-packed gardens. The best-known lakes are the big three tourist hotspots of Como, Maggiore and Garda, each with their own appeal.

But Roger Coombes of Cluttons Italy recommends that true romantics consider the quieter, lesser-known charms of the smaller lakes. "The most unspoilt and romantic is Lago d'Orta," says Coombes. "It's west of Maggiore, one hour further on from Milan's airports, but could be in another world. The delightful village of San Giulio on the east bank can only be reached by a tractor-drawn string of carriages."

Two- and three-bedroom apartments and small houses around Lago d'Orta cost between £217,250 and £434,500 through Cluttons. Coombes also tips long, thin and delightful, undeveloped Lago d'Iseo, east of Milan between Bergamo and Brescia, easily accessible from London on Ryanair flights to Bergamo.

At the northern end of Lago d'Iseo a four-bedroom stone property — a rather large love nest forming part of a borgo, or fortified village — dating back to the 12th century and owned by the same aristocratic Italian family for four centuries, is for sale through Cluttons for £869,000 (cluttonsitaly.com).

Get spicy in the Caribbean
If your idea of the perfect romantic destination involves white sand, blue seas and a soporific lifestyle, then how about Anguilla? This small, flat island, a 30-minute flight from Antigua, has exceptional beaches and a reputation as the foodie capital of the Caribbean. Unlike more mass-market islands, it promises and delivers true get-away-from-it-all exclusivity.

Celebrities such as Sandra Bullock, Paul McCartney and Beyoncé flock to Anguilla for its paparazzi-free reputation, free from cruise ships and with none of the loud casinos found in neighbouring St Maarten.

Anguilla is small, only 16 by three miles, but packs in 33 beaches, seven marine parks, 100 restaurants and a Greg Norman-designed golf course. Property prices start from £445,800 for an inland house and from £637,000 for a waterfront home.

Apartments at Zemi Beach on idyllic, white sandy Shoal Bay offer spacious newly built penthouses and beachfront homes from £1.28 million. The resort will have a spa, restaurant, gym and full concierge service. Visit zemibeach.com.

St Andrews
£325,000: in Anstruther, close to "curiously magnetic" St Andrews, a four-bedroom waterfront terrace house, for sale through Pagan Osborne (pagonosborne.com)

Scots royal romance
St Andrews on Scotland's chilly east coast might not seem an obvious romantic getaway, yet it worked a treat for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who found love among the grey stone of this curiously magnetic university town. Local agents say that once discovered, St Andrews exerts a big pull over buyers eager to return.

One hour north of Edinburgh, St Andrews has compact shopping, splendid sandy beaches for long windswept walks and an unspoilt historic centre. Life is leisurely and roads are uncrowded.

Plus, this is the home of golf — romantic for some. St Andrews has 10 courses, with a further 20 within half an hour. The most famous, The Old Course, regularly hosts the British Open.

In the Old Town, good two-bedroom apartments cost £280,000 to £400,000, while cosy stone cottages in the charming cobbled lanes off South Street start from £300,000. Sea and golf views push prices up. Newly refurbished two- to four-bedroom apartments in one of St Andrews' most iconic buildings, red-brick Hamilton Grand, overlooking the sea and the hallowed 18th green of The Old Course, start from £1.26 million. Through Savills.com.

Contacts:
Cluttons Italy: cluttonsitaly.com; 00 39 075 845 0100
Zemi Beach: zemibeach.com
Hamilton Grand through Savills: savills.com; 020 7016 3740
Pagan Osborne: paganosborne.com; 01334 475151

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