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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.

Most of the piano nobile include the writer's house museum. Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's historical library has remained intact since his death. In the ballroom all his manuscripts are on display: the complete manuscript of The Leopard, the typescript refused by two publishers before being accepted by Feltrinelli after the author's death, a draft of the fourth part of the novel including a page that the author never added to it, the manuscript of his Childhood Memories, his Lessons of English and French literature and a first draft of the short story The Siren. The furnishing of the grand staircase, the two entrance halls and the historic library includes pieces of furniture and paintings salvaged from the destroyed Palazzo Lampedusa, some come from the palazzo in Santa Margherita di Belice, the summer house of the Filangeris di Cutò , the author's maternal family, wrecked by the earthquake of the Belice valley. In the library two large Caltagirone vases , early eighteenth century, and, over the fireplace, a Saint Jerome signed by Jacopo Palma il Giovane. In the ballroom the overdoors and a few eighteenth century pieces of furniture come from Palazzo Lampedusa as well as a number of paintings, among which an interesting little painting by Domenico Provenzano featuring the family of the "Saint Duke" Giulio Tomasi di Lampedusa, Duke of Palma. Among his children are Saint Giuseppe Maria Tomasi and the Venerable Sister Maria Crocifissa (the Blessed Corbera in the novel). The remaining furnishings of the piano nobile come from Palazzo Lanza di Mazzarino. Noteworthy are a stunning sixteenth century inlaid marble table, originally at Villa Palagonia, two rare early eighteenth century Sicilian chests-of-drawers in ebony and ivory, two Rezzonico style Murano "cage"chandeliers and a central one Louis XVI style, paintings by Pietro Novelli, Antonio Catalano, Federico Barocci.

Amomg the works of modern and contemporary artists, some maquettes for opera sets by Arnaldo Pomodoro, Giulio Paolini, Mimmo Paladino, Robert Wilson, two pen-and-ink portraits by Pablo Picasso, dated XNUMX, representing the Marchioness Anita de Villa Urrutia, maternal grand-mother of Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, and a portrait of his mother Conchita by 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, Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, reunified the entire property and completed a complete restoration of the building. The writer's library and the ballroom are mostly furnished with furniture from the destroyed Lampedusa palace, the other rooms with furniture and furnishings coming from the Palazzo Lanza of Mazzarino.
The family Lanza Branciforte, of Swabian origin, in addition to the Mazzarino countryside it held the title of prince of Butera, first peer of the Kingdom and of Prince of Trabia, second peer of the kingdom. The Tomasi family includes in its history the mystical dedication of the Duke Santo, founder of Palma Montechiaro, whose children include Cardinal San Giuseppe Maria Tomasi and the Venerable Sister Maria Crocifissa, author of mystical texts, buried in the Benedictine Monastery of the Holy Rosary in Palma Montechiaro.

Conference Rooms and Tomasi di Lampedusa Museum

The monumental staircase of Palazzo Lanza Tomasi gives access to the south-west wing where the rooms are located Conference Rooms and the Museum of the Tomasi di Lampedusa family. The very bright rooms, the frescoed ceilings and the white marble floors make it an ideal space for hosting conferences and other cultural events. The rooms are equipped with Wi-Fi, video projectors, screens and a sound system and can accommodate around seventy people. On request, cafeteria services are available and reception is entrusted to personnel with a university education in the main European languages. In the vast adjacent halls of the noble floor you can also organize cocktails, breakfasts or dinners, accompanied or not by musical groups, up to a capacity of 150 people. The Duchess personally takes care of the creation and preparation of the menus, which offer a refined reworking of classic Sicilian cuisine.

The conference space consists of three rooms and services. The central hall has a characteristic vault frescoed with orientalist panels, with scenes from a harem, typical of the late nineteenth century and an exceptional one collection of French fans from the Louis XVI era. Looking through the window of fans, beyond the historical library of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and the ballroom, the view extends to the promenade of the Gulf of Palermo.

In the room to the left of the central hall is a Mediterranean nautical map