Villa of Monsters in Bagheria
strong> Villa Gravina di Palagonia , also known as Villa dei Mostri , is the most famous and original of the Bagheria villas.
The villa was built in 1725 at the behest of Prince Ferdinando Francesco Gravina and Bonanni, based on a project by the architect Tommaso Maria Napoli. After him, Prince Ignazio Sebastiano Gravina and Lucchese took office. He was responsible for the low buildings of the villa. These structures were used to house the servants and were characterized by having a tile on each door with a number that corresponded to a given servant.
The son, the VII prince of Palagonia Francesco Ferdinando Gravina and Alliata, the Necromancer , undertook the completion works of the entire complex of the villa, giving them those emblematic and extravagant features that have made the villa famous all over the world with the name of Villa dei Mostri. they owe the famous grotesque statues in tufaceous stone of Aspra, of which 200 initials only 62 survive, which adorn the external walls of the lower bodies of the villa: monstrous animals, horrible anthropomorphic figures, goat musicians, bearded dwarves, deformed human bodies, multi-headed snakes, gnomes, ladies and pig riders who mockingly dance, fantastic figures called the “Monsters” of Villa Palagonia. He had these statues installed as a kind of guardians of the palace and many legends arose about their disturbing appearance,like that of a hypothetical malefic influence on pregnant women.
The villa does not have a unique appearance only in the exteriors, even the interiors show the inspiration and magnificent extravagance of the client. The floors are preciously inlaid, and along the walls there are splendid mosaics, arabesque stuccos, mother of pearl and semiprecious stones. The most extraordinary room is the Hall of Mirrors where immense mirrors applied at different angles cover the walls, ceiling and floors, multiplying, overturning and deforming the figures of the prince's guests. The Hall was expressly wanted by the prince as he wanted to demonstrate, to those who reflected on it, the vanity and fragility of the human being. On the entrance to the room still stands the inscription "Mirrored in those crystals and in the same singular magnificence, contemplate the expressed imago with mortal frailty".