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A Pricey Amalfi Archipelago and Some Cheaper Alternatives

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Last week a small cluster of islands off Italy's Amalfi Coast were sent to market, bundled with a hillside villa on the mainland, for the eye-popping, nose-bleed-inducing, weep-worthy price of $268M. The Li Galli Islands, as these three rocky islets are known (above), have been inhabited since Roman times, and in 1924 the Russo-American choreographer Leonide Massine built a villa atop the ancient ruins. That villa was modified by master architect Le Corbusier, and over the years has played host to such stars as Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Sofia Loren, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The star-power of this property is only enhanced by its mainland addition, the former villa of Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli, which has been updated to modern standards, including two elevators that deliver guests from the villa to the beach. Both properties—most easily accessible by helicopter from Naples—are delivered in immaculate, turn-key condition, including furnishings, linens for the 31 bedrooms, and even the silver tableware. But for $268M, could we expect anything less? Luckily for our non-billionaire readers, there are some island alternatives that don't carry quite the sticker shock.

? Take this Caribbean idyll, called Buck Island, located off the southern coast of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. At $50M, it's far from cheap when compared to anything but the Li Galli, but Buck offers a castellated villa perched on the highest point of the 43-acre island. Plus, it can accommodate 16 guests. The sweeping views of Sir Francis Drake Channel and the U.S. Virgin Islands might make the price a little easier to swallow, but the planes coming in for landing at nearby Beef Island airport might be stalling the sale.

? If you've promised yourself you're not going to spend over $10M on your private slice of paradise, look stateside to the Downeast Maine property known as Davis Island, which consists of 48 acres, a 3,200-square-foot house built in 1996, and not one, but two, deep-water docks for reliable access to and from the mainland. It might not have the cachet of the Italian coast or the warm weather of the BVI, but at $5.75M it's just a fraction of the price.

? If it has to be private and it has to be an island, but for some reason you don't have multimillions on hand to live out some childhood pirate fantasy, try the Thousand Islands region of New York. That's where you'll find Little Ironsides Island, which, as its cutesy name might imply, is rather small—but so is the price. For $975K, Little Ironsides delivers a quaint three-bedroom main house with exposed ceiling joists, a duo of guest cottages, and a swimming pool—a rarity at this latitude—over 1.3 acres. It might not be fancy, but if rustic privacy is a priority there are few better deals.
· Li Galli Islands [James List via Casa Sugar]
· Buck Island [Vladi Private Islands]
· The Best View in the British Virgin Islands [Private Islands Magazine]
· Davis Island [Landvest]
· Little Ironsides Island [Sotheby's]