Rustic luxury outside of Palermo

Leave the 21st century behind when you walk through the doors of Villa Valguarnera, an aristocratic villa where your host is a Sicilian princess. Three elegant reception rooms and the ballroom of the piano nobile, all adorned with gilded stucco and delicate miniature frescoes, have stunning views of the Gulf of Palermo, while the library, with books dating back to the 16th century, make this villa a place where you can experience the aristocratic life from the inside.

The villa has recently been restored – a story that inspired director Tornatore (of Cinema Paradiso fame) when creating the launch video for the Dolce and Gabbana perfume, Rose Excelsa. It was filmed in the villa, with the role of the Princess played by Sophia Loren.

Built in the 18th century, Villa Valguarnera became one of the intellectual centres of Sicily – the eclectic list of guests reads like an intellectual and artistic Who’s Who – Goethe, Stendhal, the exiled Queen of Austria, Salvador Dalì, Dacia Maraini and Manolo Blanik.

Guests can begin their stay speaking with the Princess Vittoria Alliata di Villafranca, over one of the wines created by her father, the perfect initiation into the rich and complex history of Sicily. There is much to see and do here – but whether dining in the fishing village of Porticello, taking a cooking class, or visiting the UNESCO protected Byzantine mosaics of Cefalù and Palermo, you will come back home to live your own piece of Italian history.

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