The Leopard, a Sicilian story

The LeopardThe Leopard (in Italian Il Gattopardo) is one of the most renown novels of Italian, and above all, Sicilian literature. In 1963, Luchino Visconti, who was inspired by its huge popularity, decided to make a movie starring some celebrities such as Alain Delon and the American actor Burt Lancaster. It’s a Sicilian story, which Martin Scorsese considers to be one of the greatest films ever made. Are you curious to learn more about the places where some famous scenes were shot? Read more on Sicilian Secrets’ blog.


We were the leopards, the lions, those who take our place will be jackals and sheep, and the whole lot of us – leopards, lions, jackals and sheep – will continue to think ourselves the salt of the earth.

 The Leopard (in Italian Il Gattopardo) is one of the most famous novels of Italian, and above all, Sicilian literature. It was written by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and after a couple of rejections, it was published posthumously in 1958 and became a bestseller. The incredible success of this novel convinced Italian director Luchino Visconti to make a movie loosely based on this book.

The Leopard
The book

The film starring Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale was a blockbuster and still nowadays is considered to be a masterpiece of filmography. It’s a Sicilian story, The Leopard, and it’s actually a mirror of Sicilian society during the period called Risorgimento (the second half of the XIX century). If you want to know more about it, why don’t you take notes about some of the places where scenes were shot?  Follow Sicilian Secrets!

The holiday house of Prince Salina

We are in the so-called Villa ai Colli, located in an area that many years ago was just a few kilometers from Palermo. In the book, the building described by the author is Villa Lampedusa, but when Luchino Visconti filmed The Leopard, he was forced to use another set because of the unstable condition of the palace. For this reason, he opted for another mansion, Villa Boscogrande ai Colli.

The Leopard
Villa Boscogrande ai Colli

The Leopard, filming on location

One of the most unforgettable scenes of the movie directed by Visconti is the battle between the Garibaldians and the Bourbon army.

The Leopard
The Garibaldians (a scene from the movie)

They filmed everything in Palermo, in the heart of the historical center, at Kalsa.

The Leopard

The cult scene

The peak of the story is the scene during the ball, in which the young Claudia Cardinale dances in a lavish ballroom dressed in a precious dress.

The Leopard
The ball

Luchino Visconti chose Palazzo Gangi in Palermo and had a very curious request: the illumination, to be as realistic as possible, could only be made with candles.

The Leopard
Palazzo Gangi


The feud of Donnafugata, the one where the main characters of The Leopard go on vacation, is an imaginary place created by Tomasi di Lampedusa. The writer identifies it with Palma di Montechiaro, in the province of Agrigento, and to describe the palace, it takes inspiration from the Palace Filangeri-Cutò, in Santa Margherita di Belice.

The Leopard
Palazzo Filangeri-Cutò

In the movie, the reproduction of the façade of the building and all the scenes filmed on location, were shot in Ciminna, just a few kilometers away from Palermo.

The Leopard
From the movie – Ciminna (Chiesa Madre)

If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.

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