52 Reasons to Love Sicily
#43. Historic Opulent Villas. Sicily was home to many princes, princesses, and barons prior to the Republic of Italy’s founding in 1946. Palaces (palazzi) of noble families constructed during different eras exist all over the island, and many are open to the public. My favorite, which is about a half-hour’s drive from Palermo, is Villa Palagonia. Originally the country home of the fifth Prince of Palagonia, a baron under the realm of the King of Spain, the property offers a visit through consciousness. Not only does it possess a hall of mirrors (the ball room) that with each step challenges your perception of yourself and those around you, but more provoking are the once 600, now remaining 72, statues of monsters, fantastic characters, imaginary animals, knights, ladies, peasants, and musicians that decorate the baroque estate’s outer walls.
Goethe visited Villa Palagonia in 1787 and noted that it was remarkably unique, commenting that the statues were a menagerie of egos. Indeed, each statue seems to hold its own story or perhaps represents a caricature of someone you may know. You’ll have to visit to see for yourself.