CATANIA

Palazzo Biscari

Palazzo Biscari is one of the best examples of the baroque style of Catania, one of the most beautiful noble palaces in the city with its 700 rooms.

It is in excellent condition thanks to the restorations desired by the family and self-financed with the activities of the palace.

The family of the Paternò Castello, Princes of Biscari still live there, but the palace is open to the public for events and guided tours that they follow personally.

The courtyard, some lounges, the gallery and the panoramic terrace overlooking the port are public.

The palace was built in 1702 against the ancient sixteenth-century walls of the city, as it appears clearly when observing the façade on via Dusmet.

The works were commissioned by Vincenzo Paternò Castello and completed by Ignazio, with the aim of creating a building that would give prestige to the entire city and the family.

The project extended the small building to an existing floor, which also included the museum room, rich in archaeological finds owned by the prince.

This is cited by Goethe in his Journey to Italy and a must on the Grand Tour circuit. Currently the collection is at Castello Ursino.

The building

The upper section of the façade, corresponding to the panoramic terrace, is richly decorated with high-reliefs representing abundance, prosperity, fertility and wisdom.

The palace revolves around the main courtyard, from which you can access the room of the picture gallery whose floor is made of polychrome majolica and that of family portraits.

The heart of the building is represented by the halls, the most spectacular of which is the Ballroom, octagonal in rococo style and about 20 meters long.

Here the architect Battaglia has created a triumph stuccoes and decorations that, on three levels, depict the members of the family, the less know gods and the dome of the Lodge of music.

This is an admirable work by Sebastiano Lo Monaco, realized in the vault of the ceiling in correspondence of the elliptical staircase in white stucco.

It represents a council of Gods celebrating the triumph of the princes.

This place is fully part of the history of the modern and contemporary city, as recounted by an episode of World War II.

After 1943 the English army occupied the building, as a strategic point of defense for its proximity to the port, with the order to knock down the second level.

The beauty of the rooms, however, so enchanted the officers that they decided to disobey the order and use the halls as tennis courts, which still remember the white paint.