Donnafugata Castle in Ragusa
The Castello di Donnafugata is a sumptuous noble residence from the late 19th century located in the Ragusa area. The residence dominated the possessions of the rich Arezzo De Spuches family.
The first construction of the castle, built on the old structure of a thirteenth-century tower, is believed to have occurred in the fourteenth century at the behest of the Chiaramonte, counts of Modica.
Il The term "Donnafugata" is traditionally linked to the legend of Bianca di Navarra, the "woman who escaped" from the castle. This interpretation has little historical value because the construction of the castle is subsequent to the legend. In fact, it is believed that "Donnafugata" derives from the Arabic term "Ayn al-Ṣiḥḥat", or "Source of Health", which in Sicilian becomes Ronnafuata, hence the current name.
The building covers an area of over 7500 meters squares distributed over 3 floors. The building built in neo-Gothic style is crowned by two side towers. The entrance consists of a large country courtyard flanked by ancient rural houses. The façade, in gothic style, is bordered by merlons below which there is an elegant gallery with pairs of columns full of capitals and gothic windows. In the part below the gallery you can admire eight pointed mullioned windows that open onto a large terrace bordered by a balustrade crowned by eight vases.
The castle has over 120 rooms , of which about twenty are now accessible to visitors, and are accessed via a large monumental staircase in stone-pitch adorned with neoclassical statues. On the main floor there is: the Salone degli Stemmi on the walls of which the symbols of the most powerful families in Sicily are painted; the Hall of Mirrors covered with splendid frescoes; the Halls of Billiards and Music; the bedroom in which the White Princess of Navarre would be locked up, with a beautiful pitch stone and white limestone floor; the Lord's Room and the Fumoir where there are valuable decorations.
The park of the Castle , which has over 1500 plant species, is characterized by majestic ficus and exotic plants, statues, fountains, heraldic coats of arms , terracotta pots from Caltagirone, and stone seats. There are also several places created to cheer and entertain guests, such as the circular temple, the coffee house, some artificial caves with fake stalactites or the particular stone labyrinth, "u Pirdituri", built in the typical dry stone masonry from Ragusa and guarded at the entrance by a stone soldier . The labyrinth reproduced the trapezoidal shape of the English Hampton Court labyrinth, located near London, which the Baron had probably seen during one of his various travels. Hedges of climbing roses spread over the walls of the track, blocking the view and preventing the crossing of the lanes.
The Mudeco costume museum is also housed in the basement of the building.
The castle is one of the most used locations of the successful television series Il commissario Montalbano, based on the novels of the writer Andrea Camilleri. In addition, some scenes from the film The Viceroys by Roberto Faenza, based on the novel of the same name by Federico De Roberto, were also shot in the castle.
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