Palace of Arezzo di Donnafugata

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Palazzo Arezzo di Donnafugata is one of the most impressive noble residences in Ragusa. Built at the end of the 18th century, it was extensively modified in the 19th century by Baron Corrado Arezzo de Spuches. The interiors are finely decorated and embellished with a pictorial collection that includes a 16th century painting and various works from the 17th and 18th centuries.

History of Palazzo Arezzo di Donnafugata

The construction of Palazzo Arezzo di Donnafugata dates back to the late 18th century, at the behest of Vincenzo Arezzo III, Baron of Donnafugata. Baron Corrado M. Arezzo, Vincenzo’s great-grandson, decided to enlarge the palace and began work in 1798. After three years, when the structure was completed, the finishing touches were made and the interiors were decorated. In 1804, the baron also ordered the garden of the palace to be leveled and embellished. In the second half of the 19th century, Baron Corrado Arezzo de Spuches, to whom we also owe the current appearance of the Castello di Donnafugata, began a new thorough renovation. With the intention of transforming the palace into a prestigious residence, he had the entrance hall enlarged and turned into a gallery. In the nineteenth century, the palace was inherited by Corrado Arezzo Giampiccolo, who moved in with his family after having a residential wing built.

Exterior architecture of the palace

Palazzo Arezzo di Donnafugata is located between Via XXV April, Via Pietro Novelli and via Orfanotrofio. The sober simplicity of the exterior contrasts sharply with the richness of the interior halls. The façade has nine windows with a triangular tympanum. The only whimsical element is the balcony of the first window on the left. It was actually a wooden loggia from which one could see the street without being seen. It is a “gallarijas”, the colorful balcony typical of the island of Malta. Corrado Arezzo de Spuches was a traveler, a man of culture and a member of the Order of the Knights of Malta. He wanted to create in Ragusa Ibla a small glimpse of the island.

Inside the Palazzo Arezzo di Donnafugata

Entering through the front door of Palazzo Arezzo di Donnafugata, one finds oneself in a splendid entrance hall. It leads to a gallery defined by two rows of stone columns painted green. They support a barrel vault decorated with coffers and floral motifs. Passing through all this, one reaches a large room that leads to the Italian garden. An imposing three-flight marble staircase leads to the main floor. From the courtyard you can also enter the Donnafugata Theater, once a place of private entertainment for the Baron and his guests. Going upstairs, you immediately reach a small entrance hall with red and white marble floors and walnut furniture. Continuing the tour, you come to another small room, then a foosball table and a small living room with tiled floors. The other rooms also have elegant and rich finishes such as limestone and pitchstone floors and walls covered with damask silk paper.

The art collection of Palazza Arezzo di Donnafugata

The rooms of Palazzo Arezzo di Donnafugata are also enriched by numerous works of art acquired by Baron Corrado Arezzo de Spuches during his travels in Italy and abroad. The paintings are mainly sacred and include a 16th century painting and various works from the 17th and 18th centuries. This extraordinary collection includes a Madonna with Child attributed to a disciple of Antonello da Messina, a St. Paul the Hermit by José de Ribera known as lo Spagnoletto, and an Enthroned Madonna by the Flemish painter Hans Memling. The highlight, however, is undoubtedly a Chained Prometheus from the school of Caravaggio.

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