Villa Valguarnera di Villafranca – The key of knowledge
Words by Ros Belford
The glorious villa whose renaissance inspired Cinema Paradiso director, Giuseppe Tornatore to create Dolce and Gabbana’s most glamorous perfume commercial. Played by Sophia Loren in the Dolce and Gabbana film, the aristocratic owner of Villa Valguarnera has dedicated her life to rescuing and reviving her magnificent family home.
Villa Valguarnera owned by one of the most important aristocratic family in Sicily, with its voluptuously curved wings, concave facades and circular forecourt — think Palladian villa meets St Peter’s, Rome — it is one of the most splendid villas in Sicily, lying a short distance from Palermo in the little town of Bagheria. It was designed in 1712 by the architect, Tommaso Napoli, who was also responsible for the magnificently landscaped grounds. Bagheria, once the summer retreat of the Palermitani aristocracy (and the birthplace of Tornatore), is now somewhat run down. However, once you step through the villa’s monumental gateway from Bagheria’s main piazza, and see the avenue ahead, slicing through silent countryside to the majestic facade, you can leave the banalities of 21st century life behind.
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