On one of my tours to Sicily I took my group to meet a member of Italian aristocracy, a Baron. He is also a winemaker who has a vineyard in the countryside but we were invited to his ‘town’ house for a tasting.
His palazzo is in Ortigia, a little peninsular connected by a bridge. A few years before I had visited this same piazza but little did I know that I would one day go inside such a historical palace and meets its owner. It turned out a special experience and from an entirely different perspective from my first. The palazzo is behind the white market umbrellas.
I had arranged for my group to taste the wines he produces – the tasting room was on the ground floor and along with the wines, he provided an amazing array of dishes and the following day when we had to cancel a boat trip due to rain,he decided to invite us back and ‘upstairs’ to lunch. It was a wonderful programme substitute – to be able to go through his home and then to dine at his table.
Here are some more pictures of the beautiful home and the food he bestowed on our group.
Note the wildlife collection. The Baron dedicated a couple of rooms to his trophies and handmade furniture from Africa. Some people are appalled by stuffed animals and the fact that a sport is created from killing them.
I was taken with the well-preserved hand painted carriage, everything in this palazzo pointed to past lives well led.
He collects old maps of the region. Another historical connection of note is that the Baron mentioned that his ancestors entertained Lord Nelson’s special lady friend Emma also known as Lady Hamilton, in this very Palazzo and they reported that she danced for them covered only in diaphanous scarves, a particular outfit she was famous for donning that scandalised society at the time.
The Baron’s rare book collection should be in a temperature controlled library but I doubt he cares to part with them.
We had a dining room to ourselves.
The event was informal as we were able to serve ourselves from a central table in the adjoining room.
The Baron has published a book of the collection he owns of valuable etchings, drawings and artworks from the geography of the area, the house and its history. He presented me with a copy for my library. A perk for being the organiser of the tour. Ciao Roz