Donnafugata Castle

A trip to the glitz of luxury,
the sorrows of life, the vices of a family of the Sicilian aristocracy in the late 1800s.

Driving along a short stretch of road in the more typical Ragusan countryside sloping lazily down to the sea, accompanied by the dry stone walls, olive and carob trees and small groups of cows and sheep left free to graze, we arrive at this splendid dwelling.

Its original core dates back to the 14th century, when it consisted of a simple cottage and a 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, there are three floors in total 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, one thinks 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, the embroidered curtains, several and 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 that went into action as soon as you sat down bathing the unfortunate 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 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 Mafia boss Balduccio Sinagra take place.

In short, in addition to these things, there are many other details and curiosities that will make the visit definitely interesting also to discover and review the history of these places. We finished our visit that, by now, it was time for lunch; we could decide whether to stay on site and enjoy a traditional lunch or move a few miles to a dairy farm with an open buffalo herd and tasting room. The choice was not easy, but in the end we decided to descend not only by sight but also by taste and especially by smell into the Hyblean countryside.

Tour Guides

Giulia Giaquinta
+39 339 7101474

Languages: Italian, English, French

Marco Palermo
+39 320 2199836 –

Languages: Italian, English, Spanish

Salvatore Pisani
+39 338 3302260 –

Languages: Italian, English, French

Elena Romano
+39 3338138876 –
Languages: Italian, English, French

Roberto Sammito
350 0959576 –
Languages: Italian and Spanish

Enjoy Barocco