Conversation Club (Ragusa)

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The Circolo di Conversazione in Ragusa is one of those places in Sicily where time seems to stand still. The most characteristic room is undoubtedly the Hall of Mirrors, with its 19th century furnishings and the predominance of the color red. It is not by chance that it was chosen as the setting for some episodes of Commissario Montalbano. It can be visited only on special occasions or through organized guided tours.

What is the Ragusa Conversation Club?

The Ragusa Conversation Circle was one of the meeting places used by the nobility to converse and spend time away from the common people. It was built in 1838 on the initiative of 18 founding members. Inside the building, the original document listing the names and contributions is still preserved. Among them were members of the most important families and owners of various noble palaces, such as Palazzo Cosentini, Palazzo Arezzo, Palazzo Donnafugata, Palazzo Nicastro, Palazzo La Rocca and Palazzo Sortino Trono. The building, also known as the “Knights’ Cafe”, is now used for theatrical performances, dances, concerts and cultural and charitable events. The Conversation Club is also one of the locations of the TV series Il Commissario Montalbano. It is here that Dr. Pasquano plays his card games before being interrupted.

Interesting fact: In 1974, in a historic meeting, it was decided to admit women to the Circolo di Conversazione.

External architecture of the building

The exterior of the Ragusa Circle is in neoclassical style. On the elevation, which is about ten meters long, there are three openings flanked by six pilasters with Doric capitals. Above each door are three bas-reliefs. In the central one there are two winged women holding a lamp, while in the two side ones there are two winged sphinxes with lion bodies and women’s faces. At the top of the relief there is an inscription “Conversation Circle” and further up a sculptural group. Inside a shield there is an eagle, the symbol of Ragusa, and next to it two lions with human faces and garlands of flowers.

The interiors of the Ragusa Conversation Club

The interior of the Ragusa Conversation Circle is made up of seven rooms that still preserve their original 19th century furnishings. The most important room is undoubtedly the Hall of Mirrors, so called for the presence of four large mirrors with gilded frames. The ceiling is completely covered with a fresco dedicated to the Allegories of Arts and Sciences, painted in 1901 by the Ragusa painter Tino del Campo. In the four corners there are four medallions with busts of Dante Alighieri, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Galileo Galilei and Vincenzo Bellini. The walls of the room are covered with red silk, as are the damask curtains and sofas. From the ceiling hangs a magnificent copper chandelier representing a pumpkin with its branches.

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