Friday, July 18, 2008

Quirky places, Villa Palagonia

From this, it looked like a regular pallazzo, regular, it is not. This place is quirky if not the quirkiest place in the world. The quirkiest I've been to anyway. It was built some 400 years ago by a mad Sicilian prince. He was as quirky as the villa itself. There are accounts of him in popular literature. Goethe, in his 'Grand Tour' has visited and written about Villa Palagonia and has met the prince, who happened to be in the same shop in town. The prince, being spurned by his wife, began to pour all his money into making this place it is today. He had ugly figures made to be placed on the walls surrounding the property. He was known to go around town, forcing people to donate to his charities, his money went into this house.
Today, this house belongs to a Sicilian family who has allowed the place to be opened to the public. It is situated in Bagheria, a small town near Palermo, it is a 20 minute train ride away but a 20 minute walk from the train station. After I realized I had missed seeing it on my first trip to Sicily, I made sure I didn't miss it on my second trip. We ended up in the back entrance of the property which was locked and my heart sank so low. I thought after all this to get here I would have to miss it again..... I'd kill myself. So I said to Sophie, lets just walk round the property, even is we were to miss seeing the inside, we would have at least seen the figures from the outside. The sad part is, the town of Bagheria has grown so much, it now butts against the walls of Villa Palagonia. I don't understand what the you tube video is saying but I can guess they are saying restoration is impossible. There used to be a lot more figures on those walls but there are only some left. I feel, if anyone has any inclination to see this property, one should make the effort now.
I learned a new word yesterday after viewing Matt Gross, the frugal traveler on the New York Times series, 'the Grand tour' which is 'bo-bo' which means bourgeois-bohemian. That's the exact attitude of Villa Palagonia, it is bourgeois-bohemian! I love this attitude. I love this place.

The main entrance, guarded by some weird figures.

One can drive right through the house from front to back. I love the double staircases of baroque buildings.

I wish I can say, come to my villa....

The staircase from an upstairs window.

Another one of them.....this one has seen a lot over the last few hundred years, if only he can talk, he'll fill up volumes. His blog would be so huge.......

These old figures are barely hanging on, they used to fill up every space on top of the wall. This is really only a house and yard but the figures has given this house the notoriety it has enjoyed the last few hundred years.

A close up look of the figures show them smirking. The prince was very upset about his wife's indiscretions.

Read November to December 2007 postings in this blog for more on Villa Palagonia. I was there in October 2007.

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