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Villa Tasca, part of The Thinking Traveller's Leopard Collection

THE HISTORY OF VILLA TASCA, SICILY

Dating back to the 15th century and situated midway between Palermo and Monreale, Villa Tasca is one of Sicily’s most prestigious and historic aristocratic residences. 

The original Villa Tasca was built as a hunting lodge by the Baron of Montefalco, who considered the area, which was blessed with abundant streams, forests teeming with wild animals and easy access to Palermo, ideal for his needs. Over the centuries, Villa Tasca has been owned by some of Sicily’s most important noble families, including the Camastras, the Lanzas and the Brancifortes, all of whom extended, altered and improved the property in some way. The last significant changes were made in the mid- to late 18th century and the neo-classical form and decorative treasures we see today mainly date from that period.

Villa Tasca’s sumptuous interiors are only part of the story, however, and one has to look outside to gain the full picture. In the early 19th century, Giuseppe Lanza Branciforte extended and transformed the existing grounds. Following the romantic aesthetic of his day, he laid the foundations for the creation of a garden of delights, a project that his heirs, daughter Beatrice and son-in-law Lucio Mastrogiovanni Tasca (the first Tasca to inhabit Villa Tasca) continued with enthusiasm.  They added myriad sitting areas, tree-lined promenades, lakes, fountains, crumbling grottoes, statues and miniature neo-classical follies. Inspired by the relatively new Orto Botanico in Palermo, the couple imported and planted a wide range of exotic plants, trees and shrubs, many of which still grace the grounds today.

Beatrice and Lucio also initiated what would become a long tradition of VIP hospitality. Anyone who was anyone visiting Palermo would almost certainly been fêted at one of Villa Tasca’s legendary soirées. Guests as diverse as King Ferdinand of the Two Sicilies, Otto van Bismarck and Jaqueline Kennedy have all received the Tasca welcome, and particular attention has always been given to musicians, whose number include Verdi, Paganini, Wagner (who polished off the last act of Parsifal during his stay at the house in 1881), Arthur Rubinstein, Benedetti Michelangeli and Claudio Abbado.

Top-level hospitality is in Villa Tasca’s DNA and the present owners continue this tradition with great pride and effortless savoir faire. Clients of The Thinking Traveller have privileged access to this fascinating, exquisite, historic and welcoming residence, which is without doubt one of the most delightful and intriguing private homes in Sicily.

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