If you are ever in Palermo, you might want to take a ride out about 7 miles to the village of Bagheria, where you will find a Villa full on monsters--Villa Palagonia. This architectural gem, while rough at the edges, is full of eccentricity, oddities and hideous and grotesque sculptures that adorn the garden walls. In fact, this is a perfect choice for the modern Grand Voyage of Italy simply because it was also a popular stop for Voyagers taking their Grand Tour of Europe during the 18th and in the 19th centuries.
Built in 1715,Villa Palagonia became one of the most loved examples of the Sicilian Baroque style. However, it wasn't until a bit later that the villa became haunted by its monsters. The mentally unbalanced Prince of Palagonia, in 1749, ordered the gargoyles to be added atop the garden walls. Hunchbacks, soldiers doing battle (raping and pillaging), dragons, and various freaks in both human and animal form peer down at Voyagers here. One legend claims that most horrible faces resemble the many lovers of the prince’s wandering wife.
On the interior you will find a Hall of Mirrors (the ballroom) with many different kinds of birds and portraits of the Lords that the Prince associated with (er... the Lords, not the birds... although he was a bit flighty).
The Villa has been privately owned by the same family from 1885 til the present day, and is partially open to the public. It has also be used in various movies over the years. Personally, I could easily picture a version of Beauty and the Beast here... this Villa is well suited to La Bete and La Belle... or perhaps Dracula would feel right at home here...
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