Palazzo Biscari, Catania

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Being inside the ballroom of the Palazzo Biscari is like being inside a guitar, said our host. Recessed in the ceiling is a small walkway where musicians were placed to play for the dancers below. you can just see the music stands.

In 1693 the south east corner of Sicily was extremely prosperous as a result of the large fertile plains surrounding the ancient city of Catania. But it was then almost entirely destroyed by a large earthquake. The subsequent rebuilding created a series of carefully planned new towns, almost built in the then fashionable baroque style, creating what is called the Baroque triangle. The largest city in the triangle is Catania itself.

Subsequent events have not all been kind to Sicily and there a sense of sadness and decay around many of these buildings now. One of the largest private palazzo’s in Catania is the Palazzo Biscari which eloquently illustrates both the baroque magnificence of those who built and paid for the palazzo and the difficulties there have subsequently been in holding it together; most of the interior furniture, paintings etc., have now gone.

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The Palazzo Biscari faced directly onto the harbour where visitors to Catania arrived. A condition of the family being given this site was that the harbour facing facade would create the right impression for visitors. I think this would have done the trick.