Donnafugata literary tour. Visit the places in Palma di Montechiaro and Santa Margherita Belice described by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa in his best-selling novel “The Leopard”
Donnafugata is a fictional town that includes existing and easily recognizable places. According to the information contained in a letter Lampedusa wrote to his friend Baron Enrico di Merlo Tagliavia “The palace at Donnafugata is one and the same as the one at Santa Margherita, while for the town as a whole, the reference is to Palma Montechiaro” Palma di Montechiaro was founded in the mid 17 century by two ancestors of Lampedusa: Carlo and Giulio (also known as the Saint Duke). This is the place where the family’s feudal title hails from and is emblematic even in its architecture and urban design of the Tomasi’s uncompromising mysticism. Santa Margherita Belice is the place where Lampedusa spent the happiest moments of his childhood and is linked to the figure of his mother and the Tasca di Filangeri Cutò family
The tour of Palma Montechiaro follows an itinerary that enables you to know the “holy” ancestors evoked by “The Leopard” and figures, circumstances and monuments described in the book. Without Palma di Montechiaro “The Leopard” would not have existed.
Our first stop is the Duke’s Palace built in the mid-17th century by Giulio Tomasi, the Duke of Palma, and then, from 1667, the first Prince of Lampedusa. The building has exquisite wooden roofs: “In the mid-17th century, one of the Salinas had withdrawn there into some kind of private monastery to do penance and chart his route to heaven” . Then we go to the Mother Church, the work of Jesuit Angelo Italia, with the “stubby columns of red marble”. Few steps away are the Church and Convent of the Benedictine where is the tomb of the venerable Isabella Tomasi di Lampedusa (Blessed Corbera in the Leopard). Unique opportunity to bite, like Don Fabrizio, on the famous macaroons made by the nuns. Finally we visit the Chiaramonte Castle in one of the most beautiful countrysides on the coast of Sicily
Santa Margherita di Belice, founded by Antonio Corbera on the ruins of an Arab castle and hit by the earthquake of 1968, is the place where the writer spent the summer as a child. The tour begins at the Palazzo Filangieri Cutò which is the setting of some of the most memorable scenes of “The Leopard”. The building belonged to the family of his mother and hosted for a few months, the “woman in flight or Donnafugata” – Queen Carolina Lorena, wife of Ferdinand IV, confined there by Lord Bentick, British military governor of Sicily. Among the restored rooms of the palace, a room upstairs with manuscripts of “The Leopard” , family portraits, photographs of Santa Margherita before the earthquake and the “Wax museum”, where shapes of wax figures representing the main characters of the Leopard help you re-live the atmosphere of the novel. Adjacent to the palace, the garden with trees, admirably described in the book. Short Walk to the city centre to admire the remains of the Mother Church and the ruins of the old Santa Margherita destroyed by the earthquake of 1968.