The benefits of buying an island

ISLAND FOR SALE: I just recently noticed that Isola di Mal Ventre was for sale.
ISLAND FOR SALE: I just recently noticed that Isola di Mal Ventre was for sale.

I just recently noticed that Isola di Mal Ventre was for sale. And though I've never been in the market for a private island before, I'm thinking about it now.

It's in the Mediterranean - though there are thousands of little cays and outcroppings for sale in the world's waters, islands in Europe and especially the Med don't come up that often. So I think I might need to hurry up and decide.

People love islands. For them, I guess the ultimate is owning one - especially if you're the kind of person for whom privacy is at a premium. There are magazines, real estate agencies, websites etc, all devoted to that dream of owning your own private paradise in the sun.

They're usually in places such as the Bahamas, the Caribbean or South America. They're places with sand and water - many a traveller's idea of heaven.

Owning one of those private islands sounds to me like paying to be stranded on a desert island. Just shoot me now.

But Isola di Mal Ventre doesn't seem to be one of those sun-and-torpor places.

It's in Europe, a few miles off the northeast coast of Sardinia. The 200-acre island has been occupied off and on over the millennia - it even has a well for drinking water. It also has ruins from Roman times, as well as an old shepherd's dwelling.

Cool, right? "Come, let me show you my ruins ..."

I do worry about the name - though I don't speak Italian, "Mal" is pretty much a red flag in any language. Mal Ventre - Bad Stomach. Eek.

Apparently, the Isola is subject to "mistral" winds. Which I think are the howling sort. It sounds kind of romantic, and only one side of the island gets whipped by them.

Still, I'd rename the island, first thing. You can do that when you own an island, right? Isola di Schensul? Um, I'll work on it...

That's what appeals to me. Not only could I give it whatever name I wanted, I could make all the rules - or get rid of a lot of the standard rules, or simply situations that annoy me when I travel.

- I could fine anyone talking on a cellphone within 100 feet of a bystander.

- I could get satellite TV minus the reality shows.

- I could make anyone whose belly hung over their Speedo remain in the water, waist-high, until after nightfall when no one would see them emerge.

- My beach would be pet-friendly. My island would be pet-friendly. Heck, I might turn it into a sanctuary for animals who have had a rough life.

- Except for snakes. Indigenous ones could live there, but they'd have to wear bells, so I knew where they were.

- Hey, I could even have a mosquito-netted zone.

Does this sound like paradise, or what?

I do have a few concerns, the biggest of which is how long I'd actually own the thing. I've heard that some islands have disappeared due to rising water levels.

Technically, I might still own it, but I'm not a good swimmer, and I don't want to have to wear a snorkel every time I take the dog for a walk.

Hassles, yes, but real estate is never a sure thing.

And really, for the price, it's not a bad deal: US$1.5 million to be the king? Despot? Whatever you want.

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Oh, wait, I just checked. It's €1.5 million.

I suppose I'll just have to make the old Isola earn its keep.