If you are planning to travel Sicily, the largest island not only of the Italian peninsula but also of the Mediterranean Sea, it may be useful to know that about ten kilometers from Ragusa, a town famous for its Baroque art included among the 7 Sicilian UNESCO world heritage sites, there's one of the most beautiful castles in Sicily, the castle of Donnafugata. Donnafugata castle is really a jewel of neo-Gothic architecture, a style that in Sicily boasts very few specimens, whose this one is certainly the best known.
So, if you don't know what to do in Sicily we hope that this article could encourage you to visit this beautiful castle that covers an area of about 2500 square meters and is immersed in the greenery of about 8 hectares of land, in whose vegetation you can find also interesting decorative and architectural elements including a stone labyrinth. The building is divided into 3 levels which preserve, almost entirely, the refined and sumptuous furnishings. The various building phases span several centuries and there is little documentation about it, but it would seem that the primordial construction within the vast fiefdom supposedly took place around the year 1000 and was limited to a single watchtower, incorporated today in the architectural complex. It was, in fact, in the Middle Ages that the Saracens conquered Sicily and fortified it in the points they believed of strategic importance. In 1300 the Chiaramonte's (one of the noblest families of counts that marked the history of our island) added to the tower the castle as we know it now. In 1648 the fief passed under the protection of the Arezzo family, but it was only during the nineteenth century that the Sicilian baron Corrado Arezzo de Spuches, to whom the Donnafugata castle dues its current appearance, that decided to remodel what it was for him its family summer residence. Thanks to him it appears today as one of the best places to visit in Sicily. So, what to do in Sicily if not its visit?
The castle has 122 rooms but only some of them, for logistical reasons, are open to the public, including the so-called Noble Floor and the Costume Gallery. Donnafugata castle, since 1982, was acquired by the municipal administration of Ragusa which managed its restorations in order to make it accessible to the numerous visitors and couples of lovers who want to get married and celebrate this magical event in a unique and fairytale setting! If you don't know what to do in Sicily, culturally speaking, you have to know that we Sicilians love to organize our weddings! It could be very easy for you to visit a place of interest and see a groom and a bride that do a shooting there!
What to do in Sicily pt2: visit the set of a movie!
There are several Sicily itineraries that road to a particular castle, but among your things to do in Sicily you could also want to include other types of activities that are less boring than a cultural visit. Tourists tend to pose themselves the question: "What to do in Sicily, have fun or lost in its magnificent history?" If you have this doubt too, you have to know that there are many places in Sicily in which an option doesn't exclude the other one! Donnafugata castle, for example, is not only appreciated from the historical and artistic point of view, but you will be pleased to know that is also interesting because of some curiosities that add more value to something that is already a notable example of architecture. In fact, it is not only one of the most beautiful castles in Sicily, but also one of the most famous thanks to the works of art that made it known to the public, giving it the shine it deserves.
Have you ever thought that among all the things to do Sicily you could also visit the set of a movie? Several are the director that have chosen Sicily as the setting of their films. One of the most important cases is surely that one of Francis Ford Coppola and its Godfather saga, but it's not the only one.
Donnafugata castle, e.g, was mentioned both in the book and in the film that takes inspiration from it, "The Leopard" written by the Sicilian writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and adapted to the screen by the great master and director Luchino Visconti. This film is considered as a must of Italian cinema and was released on the big screen in 1963 to tell about the tormented Sicily during the first fifty years of the post-unitary Italian Risorgimento. Both in the novel and in the movie, the protagonist, Don Fabrizio di Salina, performed by Burt Lancaster, spends his summer holidays at the sumptuous Donnafugata castle. Other famous actors having a role in the movie were Alain Delon (Tancredi) and Claudia Cardinale (Angelica). A quote from the film has become famous because it reflects the Sicilian feeling, the atmosphere that you breathe, our soul disposition, but I'm quite sure that it can be adapted to the life of everybody: "change everything to not change anything". This sentence can mean nothing and very much at the same time, its magic lies precisely in this.
Still remaining in the field of Italian cinema, the Donnafugata castle has been also the set to shoot some scenes from another film based on another Sicilian novel, "I Viceré" by Federico de Roberto. Released in 2007, it deals with the history of the Risorgimento Age in Southern Italy through the events of a Sicilian family descendant by the Spanish Viceroys who ruled Sicily in the 16th century.
Last but not least, in Sicily what to do if not a visit to one of the "Inspector Montalbano" places? This is one of the most loved Italian TV series, that also abroad it has great success. The episodes are adapted by the novels of the great Sicilian writer Andrea Camilleri.
The staff of Discover Messina is planning a trip to Ragusa to visit the Donnafugata castle, Modica and Sicily Noto. The event is scheduled for the weekend of 18/19 January, but through our website you can also book your visit when you want!