“Elegance is a way of wear. Always remember that the more you leverage and the more one is elegant, especially in the south which has the excess habit. First you dress, then take off. Then there’s an elegance I possess it, or there is nothing to do in the elegance of the smile, the walk, the people’s look. it has nothing to do with social class. We’re born and that’s it.”
These are the words of Anna Monroy Paternò di Spedalotto descending by the principles of Pandolfina and Belmonte, dukes Giampilieri and Garsigliano Marquis, in a summary of Gattopardo Sicily. He welcomes me in his beloved Villa in Bagheria in a day than those where the warm Palermo no respite. We settle in the beautiful terrace.
Blowing in a light and perfumed wind that accompanies this pleasant conversation with one of the most vibrant and friendly women that life brings you to know. Bagheria was a summer destination of the noble who stayed there until the beginning of the harvest. The house has a floor with a porch in the neoclassical style with six stone Doric columns that look out onto a courtyard, where there are magnolias and ficus. L’interno è un susseguirsi di saloni con pareti e soffitti affrescati in pieno stile neoclassico e con personaggi allegorici.
The reception hall, where there are the representations of the four seasons and the four continents (Oceania had not yet been discovered), overlooking this large terrace decorated with contemporary tiles in shades of blue, where a balustrade, low stone , opens to double staircase to access the citrus.
Monroy are a family of Spanish weapons – Extremadura, arrived in Palermo as a result of following King Charles V, which were on family. Giunti in Sicilia si imparentano con le più importanti famiglie del regno, come i Perollo di Sciacca, e ricoprono cariche strategiche sia a livello religioso che istituzionale. The feud was not Giampilieri of Monroy home but comes from his grandmother Marianna Pape Valdina, family of Sicilian origin but moved to Antwerp where they were bankers. Fall in the Island around the ‘600 covering high office like that of Protonotaries.
“My grandmother, being the last of the family, went to the King to ask if he could take the title of Princess of Valdina, so laden with honors. But the king refused, saying he had to stay with the surname Pape instead granted it the second title that was Duke of Giampilieri. The title of Duke of Giampilieri exits Papè house and enters that Monroy. Title that she do not really ever used but always that of Ranchibile and Prince of Count Pandolfina husband. He will be his son, my father, to become the first Duke of Giampilieri of Monroy house”.
Anna was born in Palermo, makes classical studies, art history, try to enter the Central Institute of Restoration in Rome, but then decides to marry Achille Paterno Marquis of Ventimiglia Spedalotto. They choose to live in Bagheria and not in Palermo. The marriage gives birth Vincenzo and Octavia. Vincenzo cure some family affairs, including the new resort born to a farm in Chiaramonte Gulfi he restored, while Octavia is an anthropologist of religion and lives in Paris. Anna is interested in organic farming, running the company in the province of Ragusa, and especially of this villa
I have arranged everything, from paintings to furniture restored, reconstructed the furniture because in the times had been abandoned. When I arrived it was half-empty, everyone had taken something. This place was adored by me and by my husband. When I came I had a love at first sight for this house and gradually I made back all the furniture, especially when my sister Silvia married Amedeo d’Aosta. The wedding was celebrated here and I asked my father, Vincenzo Paterno, the furnishing reconstruction of the villa. A marriage that has seen the presence of Princess Margareta of Romania, who was a witness to Amedeo. Plus it then coming up the part of the furniture of my family and the palace Valdina something Monroy house. My father, for unforeseeable circumstances or intuition, emptied the palace Valdina, of which today remains only the external skeleton, before being bombed during World war II. He put all in a stock: mirrors, carpets of the Palazzo Valdina ballroom today are here.
Anna has a sviscerale love for this house, he knows all the secrets and stories. She loves this because Villa was built right on love, that between Onofrio, second son of Paterno’s house Raddusa, and Maria Antonia, third daughter of the Marquis of Trigona Spedalotto. At age 15. Maria Antonia is sent to a convent but fate has it that both brothers die becoming her sole heir to an immense fortune. Uncles trying to force her to give up the inheritance but Onofrio cousin, lawyer, takes his defenses and after a lawsuit lasted twenty years, can be made to take possession of his property. Maria Antonia leaves the convent and Onofrio bride. It was 1784 and decide to move to live in Bagheria buying from Arezzo family land and the house under construction. Did we ask for the bond to the ‘Soprintendenza’, which happens one out of one thousand. Over the years I opened the villa to groups involved: members of the historical and the international museum houses. This house with Villa Belmonte Acquasanta were as a stimulus for the birth of the Sicilian neoclassicism. Seven years ago was the German TV to do a special on ‘Prussian architect and painter Carl Friederrich Schinkel and I asked them why. They said that Schinkel had painted my house in his watercolors, news I did not know.
Anna continues to tell and memories bring to life characters who have made history. While Villa Valguarnera resided, from the Neapolitan escape, Ferdinand and Maria Carolina of Bourbon, Villa Spedalotto were housed hereditary royal princes Francis of Bourbon, future King Francis I and his wife Maria Clementina of Austria and his daughter Maria Carolina Duchess Berry. “I own her candlestick with Lily of France and the portraits of rulers with Berry B”. They also stayed Francis II of Bourbon – Duke of Calabria and Louis-Philippe d’Orleans, future king of the French. It is said that even the King of the Two Sicilies Ferdinand II (known to history as King Bomba) was born here.
You have a memory of your childhood that you’re bound?
“An aunt, Carolina Monroy Ranchibile. I was six years, but I sensed it was a special person. He was President of the Red Cross Siciliana, was unmarried and had a medal collection that rivals quellodella Duchess of Aosta, who held the position of National Chief . An exceptional woman who has helped to open a hospital in the Karst where they received all the sick, which was not the norm, both Italians and Austrians. All were treated because they were people, they were sick. At the end of the war he received the medal of the International Red Cross Florence Nightingale, the date of the Austrian proposal and not Italian. It ‘also went to East Africa where he opened another hospital in Massawa. I keep photos of the actress with the sick and the Duchess of Aosta. He also had the medal of the Third Army. I have just met, but a question that I can not explain I have it in as if I were her testimonial, as if I were to continue its path. When I go to Lourdes every year comes to her mind and his teachings. “Anna Monroy’s Lady of Honour and Devotion of the Order of Malta and goes every year to Lourdes and Loreto” is a soul journey, the journey the most beautiful that I can not wait to do. I have head room. Soon assistance to the Lords sick during pilgrimages but also throughout the year. My commitment is ongoing. “
The etiquette is part of your education, of your daily life. What it can not stand as an act of rudeness that a person can commit.
There is an attitude of great indifference and contempt of the places where you are, reluctant support. For this reason I do not do advertising in this place because they are interested parties to contact me to live this experience. Who will want to see and hear these stories. They may not know how to use the order of cutlery, this is of little interest to me, but they can not but want to feel the soul of the house. Fortunately I admit that rarely happens to me.
The nobility makes sense today?
“If it still manages to convey education, history of the families, local stories could still have its value. It also means social commitment towards others.”
What is beauty for you?
“The beauty you can find it in a flower, in a plant, in two cutlery made table with grace with a flower next to it. In a person who receives you smiling in the village where you stopped. And ‘an interior movement which then addresses outside. Then there is a more contextual beauty. The beauty that has to be taught. The famous beauty that will save the world you are missing if you do not teach it. Do you think young people accustomed to the suburbs. They can not know cos’ is the beauty why not live it, do not realize it. The scenic beauty, architectural. And ‘our duty to teach“.
What do you like in Palermo?
“This air of architectural fusion, and cultural result, we breathe. This ease of human contact, this experience the sea every day, every day. All I can go to the sea and can live it, both in winter and in summer. On January 1, we were on the beach to us a happy anniversary. The Palermo people do not like the degradation, the lack of attention of the institutions to this city that is falling. When I think of my city come to mind colors, festivals, monuments, kindness that is part as the soul of our culture.The Sicilian people is an ancient people with great traditions and myths. This culture are in all walks of life, even if we think the puppeteers told stories that were nothing more than the Gerusalemme Liberata “.
What to bring with you always on the go?
“The scarf. I need more. If you are flying in and feel cold. I need to cover me in the countries in which they ask. If you have a skimpy dress and you have to enter the church. It never fails.”
What should never wear a woman?
“A dress which is not good. You are you who make the dress and not the other, no matter the great designer labels. Very often the vintage are some great things.”
What you never want to see to a man?
“There are so many things: the white stockings, the bag dwarfing me. But on the whole short trousers and his immoderate use. Ugly. The shorts in the city is not good. With the shorts go by boat, to the club, if you’re Mondello, if you go to the sea. For these places is fine. “
A book to which you are connected?
“During the time I was studying I loved the books of art historian Argan. Then Tolstoy, Russian literature is a beacon for humanity: Anna Karenina, War and Peace. Then I had my good fortune to have even the Russian-law“.
Favourite historical character?
“Going against the tide like Napoleon because he was a brilliant man. Came from nothing, from Corsica, has conquered Europe. He was brilliant in the strategic part of his work action. Ok was a dictator, but it was brilliant.”
If I say classical music?
“Mozart. While I was 10 when I attended, at the Teatro Massimo, my first opera: La Traviata. I remember that I cried with emotion”.
A city to which you are connected?
“Paris, because there lives my daughter.”
A dish that is part of your story about your family?
“Artichokes with brown sauce, a black mayonnaise, a recipe of Monzù home. But do not ask me how they prepare, it’s a secret. I propose often as gelatin of coffee with cream. For our foreign guests prepare menus Sicilian dishes using products that come from our country. I use extra virgin olive oil of our estate and our fruit to pack jam and ice cream. “
Your relationship with animals?
“Very respect and love, especially for dogs and cats that must not be touched, abandoned and abused. I had a cat that has just died after about 20 years. Now I have another who chose me. I found myself inside my car. Then I have two dogs. “
What is your special touch to make a table.
“Use flowers that are fundamental and the presentation of the dishes. Seasonal flowers that usually gather in the garden. If there is a buffet of large bunches, in the case of dinner placee lower flowers. In the seated lunches pay much attention to plasment (guests at the table) according to their interests. If it is not a narrow label lunch, where I have to follow the rules, put it next to people who can share a speech be it business or cultural. “
Why do not you say please?
“It is a word that makes no sense. I’ve never used.” How is perhaps “maybe is better.”
The artist that you’re bound?
“In the ancient world of art Caravaggio, is part of the history of Palermo with the canvas stolen from the Oratory of San Lorenzo. Modern art is a field that I’m still studying it for training and not mine studies. I’ve lived in Milan for five years, a city I had never visited, perhaps hated, did not understand what there was to see. this is where I started my journey to modern art. “
“Red, because of energy.”
There really is a magical atmosphere in this place. The light is wonderful, I feel almost a Grand Tour travelers. I can only share the words of Alexandre Dumas, who was also sitting in the same spot where I am:
After dinner we were served coffee on a flower-filled terrace ; from this terrace you could see the gulf in whole, part of Palermo, Monte Pellegrino and finally in the sea, like a horizon floating fog, the island of Alicudi.
The time spent on this terrace, during which we saw the sun and the landscape through all the gradations of light, gold bright blue dull, it is one of those indescribable hours that are found in its memory, but you can not make people understand it with pen it in paintings.“
Story & Photo : Andreea Antonio Raffaelli