On our way back from one of the nearby towns, we turned off the main road and found ourselves driving along country lanes edged with dry stone walls and overlooking green fields which looked more like the Peak District than the scenery you would expect to see in Sicily.
As we turned a corner, the white stone walls of Donnafugata Castle appeared on a low hill that overlooks the fields below. We were not expecting to see this bad boy guarding the castle.
We parked the car next to some cuter baby cows, they were very friendly, one came and stuck his head through the window to say hello.
The Castle of Donnafugata is a mixture of styles from different periods and tastes. It can be traced to the 14th century although most of its current appearance belongs to the 19th.
This major redevelopment was carried out by the Baron Corrado Arezzo De Spucches, an important Sicilian politian, who transformed the facade into what can be seen today, with a mixture of styles from Gothic-Venetian tradition to Renaissance style. In 1982 the Donnafugata Castle was sold to the Council of Ragusa becoming one of the most famous landmarks of the region.
In reality it is no longer a castle, but a palatial mansion with 122 rooms of which 28 are accessible to the public displaying original period decoration, trompe l’oeil ceilings, traditional furniture and spectacular chandeliers. We were the only visitors at the time so had the place to ourselves, it was like we had our own private castle.
Although you cannot really see this from the photographs, much of the authentic decoration and furniture is now looking a little ‘shabby shabby’ rather than ‘shabby chic’ but as we walked through the rooms we found ourselves being transported back in time to the 19th century.
Above is the Music Room with painted Sicilian landscapes and a variety of piano’s. There seemed to be a room to fulfil every function including entertainment, games, a picture gallery and library. There were also bedrooms with connecting drawing rooms for each member of the family plus numerous guest rooms, the decoration of each dependent on status of the visitor.
The castle has 3 floors of which we were able to freely walk around the first floor, we didn’t see any kitchens or servants quarters. Here are some pictures of a few of the rooms.
The Smoking Room is appropriately decorated with pipes and playing cards.
An 18th Century Venetian Murano glasswork chandelier in the Ladies Room
The Billiard Room had further painted landscapes, a decorative ceiling and raised seats all around for spectators
The Bishops bedroom and drawing room were the most elaborate of the guest quarters
The Hall of Mirrors would have been a great location for our Mamma Mia party, it is a smaller copy of the Room of Mirrors in Versaille and was used for dancing and parties.
The Coat of Arms Hall is a Medieval style boardroom with approximately 750 emblems of noble Sicilian familes.
The well stocked Library
After spending some time looking all around the inside we still had 8 hectares of gardens to explore, but we will save that until next week! To be continued…….