A taste of Sicilian high society
Brian Viner writes:
"We were staying in Villa Tasca, an imposing mansion on the outskirts of Palermo, where the present Duke of Kent once dropped a glorious clanger... The duke's faux-pas brought a flush of embarrassment to the royal cheeks and yet broke the ice perfectly. After that, the formality evaporated as if sucked away by the fat little cherubs on Villa Tasca's many splendid frescoes, and a general bonhomie descended that was rather more typical of the parties for which Villa Tasca has been known in Palermitan society for 250 years.
Indeed, for all the magnificent antiques, and however evocative the music room in which another guest, Richard Wagner, composed Parsifal, it was the two battered visitors' books that really fascinated me. They go back to 1877, and bespeak a tradition of party-giving that attracted generations of wealthy visitors from Britain, Germany, Scandinavia and the US.
We could not have had a better base than Villa Tasca, which once stood in open countryside but has been rather enveloped by modern suburbs, making the house and its extensive, exotic gardens even more of a sanctuary than they were in Wagner's day.The aristocratic Tasca family have been renting the place out to holiday-makers since 2001, complete with household retinue...
As well as managing the ancestral home, Giuseppe Tasca - the future Count Tasca D'Almerita - also runs the family's long-established winery, Regaleali, in Sicily's mountainous hinterland. He drove us up there one day for a memorable lunch concluding with the freshest, finest cannoli - Sicily's famous dessert of fried pastry tubes filled with ricotta - I have ever tasted."
Villa Tasca, like all Think Sicily's properties, is available for rent exclusively through Think Sicily.