Donnafugata Castle

a labyrinth of charm and beauty

We arrive at this splendid dwelling by driving a short stretch of road in the more typical Ragusa countryside that lazily slopes down to the sea, in a succession of wonderful color effects, among dry stone walls, olive and carob trees, and flocks of sheep. At first, around the 14th century, it was a simple cottage and watchtower. In 1860 Baron Corrado Arezzo, a senator of the Kingdom, after extensive renovation transformed it into its present form. Once there, one is enchanted by its beauty and the views from it. The atmosphere here is really special, fantastic and familiar at the same time: the castle seems suspended in space and time, between a literary residence and a majestic aristocratic estate. A wide staircase gives us access to the second floor of the castle, in total there are 3 floors and 122 rooms of which about 20 can be visited.
Entering the hall of mirrors for a moment I am reminded of the palace of Versailles, and it is easy to relive those old-time atmospheres, waltzes, quadrilles, nineteenth-century gowns and imperial buffets, a wonderful Cathedrals breath! Walking through the various rooms I think back to the last years of that Sicilian aristocracy, an important tile in the great mosaic of this land’s past. Readings and concerts, women intent on embroidery, political meetings, diplomatic agreements around the pool table and in the baron’s library.
The furniture is still the original one, embroidered curtains, very rare pianos, the original bronze and tortoiseshell Bishop’s bed, witness to the close relations between nobility and clergy, the wallpapers with those magnificent trompe-l’œil effects, and the 750 coats of arms of all the Sicilian noble families.
But in addition to being a man of great culture and intelligence, the Baron had a lively and prankish taste, and it is the beautiful castle grounds that fully reflect his playful and eclectic personality. Among very rare trees and shrubs, he had several jokes built to cheer his guests, such as a sprinkler placed in a seat which went into action as soon as one sat down, wetting the unfortunate ones or the fake Chapel where as soon as you entered you were embraced by an automaton dressed as a monk who appeared out of nowhere, the fake coffins and the very special labyrinth enclosed by high white stone walls once covered with lush, fragrant climbing roses. Getting lost in there is an experience to be had, and I will deliberately not reveal anything.
To finish we visit the beautiful terrace and the turret, as well as enjoy a splendid view of the countryside below up to the Mediterranean Sea, we can recall some scenes from the fiction Il Inspector Montalbano, specifically “The trip to Tindari,” in which the dialogues between the commissioner and the mafia boss Balduccio Sinagra take place. But there are still many other details and curiosities that will make your visit definitely interesting also to discover or brush up on the history of these places. Lunchtime having arrived, we moved just a few miles to a dairy farm with an open-air buffalo herd and a tasting room with an all-fresh buffalo mozzarella menu. For lovers of the genre it is a must stop!

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Enjoy Barocco