October 19,2007 - We took the 10 minute train ride from Palermo to Bagheria to see Villa Palagonia (www.villapalagonia.it). We came in by the backdoor, it was locked and I thought we couldn't see it. I made this second trip to Sicily because I read that Villa Palagonia was opened to the public. In it's hey days it was a much visited place, even Goethe visited it and wrote about it in his accounts of his travels to Italy. Today the property is owned by the Castranovo family who allow it to be opened to the public. It looked old, decrepit, wacky and yet beautiful. Rimming the stone walls of the property were placed carvings of all sorts of creatures- dwarfs, maidens, animals, all in whimsical poses, some animals were even humping each other.
I suggested that we walk round the property, even is we can't get in, we can still see the whimsical statutes from the outside. We'd only walked half way when we found the entrance, paid the 4 euros (per person) and in we went. The garden surrounded the villa and the road cuts through the villa from front to back. It had a beautiful garden. All the statutes faced the inside of the property and we are able to see their mocking expressions. Then we climbed the huge staircase, typical of baroque villas in Sicily, to get into the house, the ground floor are where the kitchens and service areas were. The interiors looked really worn, with paint peeling and murals fading, some have fallen off completely revealing the wood paneling of the ceiling. It is still beautiful, mind you it was built in 1715. Every window looks out into some part of the garden and some section of the wall with their whimsical statutes starring back at you. The prince, Prince Palagonia who added these statutes to the walls was thought to be crazy. He went crazy over his wife's indisgressions. I say, he has a different sense of humor, I rather liked it.
I was not disappointed. I'm glad I went back to Sicily, Villa Palagonia, among other things made this return trip well worthwile.
I have a lot more pictures of the villa which I'll publish at a later date.