Slow Travel writer Anne Robichaud found that marriage to a Palmeritano would lead to a host of special treats when she and her husband traveled to the beautiful Mediterranean Island of Sicily. She describes her visits with a Baronessa and a Countess in her article Palermo’s Welcoming Nobility.
“This year the weather was unseasonably cool during our annual visit to my husband Pino’s family in Palermo, Sicily, so we combined time at the seaside with visits to a few of Palermo’s “hidden” artistic treasures: privately-owned Noble Palazzi (palaces). An article in an Italian art magazine had caught my eye: a couple of Palermo’s privately-owned palaces are open for visits by appointment only, two others on a few set dates. I made some calls, even speaking directly with a young Baroness and a delightful Count. I said that I was an Americana married for many years to a Palmeritano and long-fascinated with the art and history of bellissima Palermo. The doors opened graciously in each case: an invitation to visit.
Our first visit was to Palazzo Aiutamicristo where we were warmly welcomed by charming Baronessa Maria (28 years old), standing in for her vacationing parents, Baron and Baroness Calefati di Canalotti. Their family has owned the palace since the 18th century.
The late 15th century Palazzo has hosted nobility for centuries. The vast and magnificent frescoed ballroom must have been the setting for many a sumptuous event. Appropriately, the 200 square meter room (about 2000 square feet) is crowned with a ceiling fresco called “The Glory of the Virtuous Prince”. The ballroom opens on to a flowered terrace and here breakfast is served to guests of the palace B&B: the Baron and Baroness have transformed two rooms of the palace for visitors. Small rooms of simple charm with low wooden-beamed ceilings: certainly once the servants’ quarters (high ceilings and frescoes are not in that part of the palazzo!).
At Villa Tasca, not just a couple rooms, but an entire floor of the sumptuous residence may be rented. The elegant spacious rooms look out over the splendid botanical garden of rare plants which grace the contours of the pool.
We toured the home and grounds thanks to the kindness of the villa director, Signor De Grandi, who has been right-hand man to Count Lucio Tasca D’Almerita for some years (all of the Tasca family was involved that day in preparation for the grape harvest at their famous vineyards, Regaleali, in the hills about an hour from Palermo). Pino enjoyed De Grandi’s stories and reminisces as much as our fascinating tour of the Villa and grounds: De Grandi (in his late 80′s and still in top form) had played for the Palermo and Milan soccer teams!”