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Palazzo Lanza Tomasi

Mediterranean scents and colors in the heart of Palermo
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Palazzo Lanza Tomasi in Palermo

Il Palazzo Lanza Tomasi is located in the Historic center of Palermo, in the heart of the neighborhood Kalsa, the Arab Halisa, the elected citadel of the Emirs. The palace, built at the end of the seventeenth century on the Walls of the Bad, the sixteenth-century Spanish ramparts, overlooks the splendid seafront of Palermo with the twelve windows of the façade and the lush terrace, a veritable roof garden full of Mediterranean and subtropical essences.
The palace was the last residence of the Prince Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, the famous author of the The Leopard, who spent the last years of his life, until his death in July 1957, after the destruction of his palace, Lampedusa Palace, in the allied bombings of 5 April 1943. The adoptive son Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi he reconstituted the entire property in the 1970s and lovingly restored it.
The main charm of the building lies in its position and in the play of spaces and lights. The furniture has the character of the large ones patrician palermitane residences and presents a collection of furniture and furnishings from the best Sicilian cabinetmaking.

Il floor del palazzo costituisce in gran parte la house museum dello scrittore. La biblioteca storica di Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa è rimasta intatta dall’epoca della sua morte. Nella sala da ballo sono esposti tutti i suoi manoscritti: il manoscritto completo del The Leopard, quello della quarta parte del romanzo contenente una pagina che con compare nella pubblicazione, il dattiloscritto, i manoscritti della Lezioni di Letteratura Francese e Inglese e dei Racconti, una prima stesura de La Sirena. Nello scalone monumentale, nelle due sale di ingresso e nella biblioteca storica l’arredamento è formato quasi interamente da mobili e quadri provenienti dal distrutto Palazzo Lampedusa e dal palazzo di Santa Margherita di Belice, la residenza estiva dei Filangeri di Cutò, la famiglia materna dello scrittore, distrutta dal terremoto della valle del Belice nel 1968. Nella biblioteca, due grandi bocce di Caltagirone primo Settecento e, sopra il caminetto, un San Girolamo firmato da Jacopo Palma il Giovane. Nella sala da ballo le sovrapporte e alcuni mobili settecenteschi provengono da Palazzo Lampedusa, e così pure numerosi quadri tra i quali è interessante un piccolo quadro di Domenico Provenzano raffigurante la famiglia del “Duca Santo” Giulio Tomasi di Lampedusa, duca di Palma, tra i cui figli si annoverano San Giuseppe Maria Tomasi e la Venerabile Suor Maria Crocifissa (la Beata Corbera del Gattopardo). I restanti arredi del piano nobile provengono da Palazzo Lanza di Mazzarino. Tra questi uno splendido tavolo in marmo intagliato della metà del Cinquecento, originariamente nella Villa Palagonia, due rari cassettoni siciliani in ebano e avorio del primo Settecento, due lampadari a gabbia di Murano modello Rezzonico e uno centrale di epoca Luigi XVI, quadri di Pietro Novelli, Antonio Catalano, Federico Barocci.

Tra le opere di artisti moderni e contemporanei, alcuni bozzetti di scenografie di Arnaldo Pomodoro, Mimmo Paladino, Giulio Paolini, Robert Wilson, due ritratti a penna di Pablo Picasso, 1910, raffiguranti la Marchesa Anita di Villa Urrutia, nonna di Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, e un ritratto di sua madre Conchita firmato da Giulio De Blas.

The third floor of the palazzo is divided into apartments that are rented out for tourist accommodation.

The history of Palazzo Lanza Tomasi

Palazzo Lanza Tomasi which faces Palermo’s seafront, was built in the second half of the sixteenth century atop the Spanish military casemates behind the the sixteenth century city walls At the beginning of the sixteenth century, a crucial moment for the naval supremacy in the South Mediterranean, Spain fortified Sicilian cities with new walls. Ramparts were built for defence against the new artillery warfare.Palermo’s seafront was protected northwards by the fort of Castellamare, southwards by the bastion of Vega, and the bastion of Tuono was built in-between.. The area behind the ramparts was militarized, and only in the second half of the seventeenth century the first palaces were built. The bastion of Tuono was pulled down around 1720, the bastion of Vega at the end of that century. The first building were the Branciforte di Butera palace and the Novitiate of the Crociferi. The Lanza Branciforte family owned the whole bastioned front from Porta Felice, one of the city gates, to the bastion of Tuono. The buildings behind the bastion were handed over to the Gravina family. The Gravinas then leased them to the Theatine fathers, who created there an Imperial College for the education of young aristocrats. The College was founded during the Spanish war of succession and in 1728, the foundation year, Palermo acknowledged as its king Charles VI of Habsburg. Charles VI of Habsburg. The College was closed down in 1768 and the palazzo was bought by Giuseppe Amato, Prince of Galati. The Prince unified the frontage on the sea in Vanvitelli style, adding the 80 m long and 9 m wide terrace.
In 1849 the palazzo was bought by Prince Giulio Fabrizio di Lampedusa, with the indemnity paid by the king of Naples for the expropriation of the island of Lampedusa. Giulio Fabrizio, an amateur astronomer, would be the model for the main character in "The Leopard", The novel written by his great-grandson Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. In 1862 De Paces, rich ship-owners related to The Florio family, bought half of the palazzo and transformed it according to the taste of the period. An imposing staircase was created using marbles salvaged from the demolitions made for the building of the Massimo Opera House. A grand ballroom was built with a wooden floor made of alternating walnut and cherry staves.

In the 1948 Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, who had lost the family palace in the 23 bombardment of April 1943, reappears the property from De Pace, and will live there until his death in 1957. The adoptive son, Gioa