The capital city of Sicily is rich in history and every corner of the city reveals some little secrets. The villas in Palermo are such a jewel, each of them tells of noble families, skilled architects and many curiosities to discover. Our keyword? Beauty!
Let’s start our itinerary with Sicilian Secrets!
The villas in Palermo are an example of refined and elegant architecture, these residences are a heritage of inestimable value because they tell some family stories, describe past times that deserve to be remembered and kept alive. Some villas are now open to the public and therefore can be visited, some others are suggestive locations for events, others – unfortunately – are closed and mysterious.
Here are five ideas before starting your journey to Sicily and immerse yourself in the most aristocratic face of the island!
Villa Malfitano is one of the most romantic historic residences in Palermo. It was built for the Whitaker family, and if outside it has a sixteenth-century neoclassical style, inside it’s stunning. From the Louis XV and XVI style lounges to the ballroom and the collection of Flemish 16th century tapestries, your eyes fill with wonder. A real gem is the park where the Summer Room stands out, an almost magical place that with its decorations with plants and flowers looks like an extension of the garden.
Among the villas in Palermo we cannot forget about Villa Filippina. Its name is linked to its client, Father Angelo Serio, a priest of the Congregation of St. Filippo Neri, who had it built in 1755. The visitor is first struck by 140-meter-long portico, not to mention its garden – one of the first historic city gardens embellished by the cloister and the fountain with statues of saints, made by Gioacchino Vitagliano. Inside, you can find authentic masterpieces such as the unmissable frescoes on the life of Jesus from the 18th century, by Vito D’Anna and Antonio Manno. Today this villa hosts several events, performances and exhibitions, moreover it also boasts an astronomical observatory with its own museum to get lost… among the stars!
Villa Niscemi is located in the Parco della Favorita, surrounded by lavish vegetation, and until a few decades ago it was inhabited. Now it is open to the public and people can enjoy its still intact furniture, interior finishes and garden. On the first level, you can see the reception halls and apartments with a collection of portraits depicting the kings of Sicily. A ‘photographic’ point not to be forgotten is the main hall where the walls and the ceiling light up with frescoes depicting the Four Seasons. Poetry!
Villino Florio has a place of honor among the villas in Palermo. It is a triumph of Liberty, actually one of the first examples of Liberty in Italy, and it was created by the architect Ernesto Basile. Often referred to as a masterpiece of European Art Nouveau, the architect wanted to reproduce the traveler’s spirit of Vincenzo Florio by inserting all the places visited by this rich bourgeois into the various elements of the building. Unfortunately, in the 60s of the twentieth century a huge fire damaged part of the interior, but now – after a careful restoration – the Villino is once again open.
The last gem of our itinerary is Villa Igiea. This name is among the most popular in town, but only a few people know the story. It was the home of the English admiral Cecil Domville and was built in the 19th century in a neo-Gothic style. Later it passed to the Florio family, and it was Ignazio Florio who called it ‘Igiea’, after his daughter. After several vicissitudes, it has returned to its former glory as a luxury hotel. The furniture was created by Vittorio Ducrot and in the park of the villa you can see a classic temple which in reality is nothing more than a false ruin. The view will take your breath away. In front of your eyes you’ll see the sea and Palermo, something unique that remains in the heart. Forever.