The Florios name echoes in the soul of Sicilians. This family has left an indelible imprint on the island and is now back in the news thanks to the book of Stefania Auci ‘The Florios of Sicily’. The story begins in Bagnara Calabra and then continues from 1799 in Palermo. The Florios look ahead with ambition, aiming to become the richest and most powerful. A family saga that comes to life during a very hot historical period: here are many curiosities that Sicilian Secrets can’t wait to tell you about!
The wind of the Belle époque was blowing when the Florios name became one of the most powerful of Italy. A wealthy family of Calabrian origin that reached the peak of its splendor between the 19th and 20th centuries in Palermo. A commercial empire, the prerogative of these industrialists, whose legacy today consists of a considerable architectural and cultural heritage. Among the streets of the Sicilian capital we can still see the splendor of the Villino Florio at Olivuzza, the Palazzina dei Quattro Pizzi and, of course, the highly celebrated Villa Igiea. But not only that, Ignazio Florio – for example – founded the newspaper ‘L’Ora’ and his brother Vincenzo jr. established some sport events such as the Targa Florio, the Corso dei Fiori and the Giro Aereo di Sicilia.
Yet that of this gritty and resplendent dynasty, whose symbol was the Lion, was not a fairy tale with a happy ending. With Ignazio Florio Jr., husband of the famous Donna Franca painted by Giovanni Boldini, it went into gradual decline. And what remains of it in the present is undoubtedly the charm, the magic of a time gone but which in the heart of Sicily is destined to remain eternal.
The Lions of Sicily, once upon a time
From being poor spice merchants to becoming the stars of Sicilian entrepreneurship, the Florios’ contribution gave luster to the economy of the whole country. They were able to influence the monarchical policies of the Bourbons and the Savoy, and then, as mentioned, they fell into the darkness. In 2019, Stefania Auci‘s bestseller ‘The Florios of Sicily’ has once again turned the spotlight on the vicissitudes of this family by making its developments known internationally. The merit of this book goes beyond the exciting narrative; in fact, it unveils details about the business world of the 19th-20th centuries and brings back to the top a piece of Sicilian history that for too many years was put in the archives.
«Visual writing that immerses us in places and history, which does not indulge in sentimentality and remains lucid and even a bit ruthless. With echoes of the Leopard and the historical Camilleri»,
«Compelling and documented, it speaks of courage and ambition, of feelings and magic»,
«Stories of love, dreams, betrayal and toil in a novel that vibrates with life»,
«The novel interweaves historical events with the private lives of the Florios, transporting the reader into a fascinating world of strong personalities».
These are just some of the comments and reviews received by Auci for its work, a bestseller that will soon arrive on Disney+ in a film version. ‘The Florios of Sicily’ will in fact become a TV series: the set moved to various locations on the island from Palermo to Marsala, passing through Trapani and Cefalù. The series is directed by Paolo Genovese and will star Miriam Leone as Giulia Portalupi, wife of Vincenzo Florio played by Michele Riondino. Paolo Florio will be played by Vinicio Marchioni, while his wife Giuseppina will be Donatella Finocchiaro. In the cast there are even some other well-known actors such as Eduardo Scarpetta, Paolo Briguglia, Emmanuele Aita and Ester Pantano.
A walk with the Florios
Social redemption, the uprisings of 1818 and then Garibaldi’s arrival in Sicily. The history of the Florios is articulated among some milestones of the modern era. A walk through time…and space! Watching the TV series ‘The Florios of Sicily’ we will bump into breathtaking views. The main location will be Palermo, and the most attentive viewers will recognize Palazzo Ganci Valguarnera (also known as the Palazzo del Gattopardo, the one of the famous ball with Claudia Cardinale in The Leopard), Palazzo dei Normanni, Palazzo Comitini, Palazzo Mirto, Palazzo Alliata di Villafranca and the Church of the Spasimo. We will virtually walk to the Quattro Canti, Via Maqueda and Corso Vittorio Emanuele, thus intersecting with Piazza Pretoria and Piazza Bellini. A tale imbued with a timeless allure that will make you feel the vibrant roar of Sicily.