Visiting Villa Palagonia
The tourist who goes around Sicily can’t miss to visit Villa Palagonia, the popular “House of Monsters” of Bagheria. It’s a great opportunity to admire the original decorations requested by Francesco Ferdinando Gravina e Alliata, VII prince of Palagonia, He made the House a popular monument in the world. Tommaso Maria Napoli, the Dominician friar, made the project for the princely residence, together with the architect Agatino Daidone. The building has started in 1715 and went on for more than fifty years. It was placed few km from Palermo, it was a nice place for holidays, far away from the caotic city. The House was surrounded by beautiful wood. The eccentric prince, disdainful of the noble life ( they say he never appears in front his guests), wanted to amaze his guests making statues with tuff stones: knights, ladies, musicians and fantastic animals, every kind of caricatures and grotesque figures that make weird reactions to the visitators. Curiosity and amazement with no doubts, but also the fear of seeing an evil figure in them. That’s the thought of people of the 1700, but even the one for the next generation. They say statues, as “Monsters”, were positioned on the surranding walls and in the path of the main hall (they were more than 600) and when Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe was guest in the house during his journey in Italy, the writer was inspired from the statues and composed “Faust”, his masterpiece. At the Prince death, people were scared of the satanic statues and they started to sack the house, destroying most of the “monsters” . Unfortunately, today we can see only the statues of the walls. That happened in spite of all the respect and love people had for the Prince, but they say at his funeral there were few noblemen and all the Bagheria town was present. The entrance of the House is a majestic scale with a double flight of steps and brings to an hall with frescos represented Hercules’ s fatigue. To note the particular Mirrors Room used as reception, polychrome marbles in the walls and Gravina’s statues around. Mirrors are positioned on the ceiling in order to reflect one image only if the visitor is in the middle of the room, the same image is multiplicated if he moves a bit until to disappear if he goes beyond, like being victim of a spell. Today is not possible to admire this effect: mirrors are now blacken and they can’t be replaced because there are no more artisan who can do that. The landlord of the house use to made fun of his guests, knowing that none of them could challenge him. He wasn’t insane, he just wanted give a message to his guests: “You are in the middle of this room and you think you are in the center of the world because you are a rich and noble person, but be aware and don’t waste your time in uselenessess of life, because what you believe it’s important now , it’s an ephemeral thing in reality that will pass away with your life as much as your image has disappeared in the mirrors play. You will be remembered by your posterity just for the value of your actions and works. Think about it! This is the only Immortality given to the human being”. We suggest to be guided to know the history and the sicilyan baroque of the unique monument and to understand the creative Prince who made his House popular in all the Europe.