Villa Palagonia: the enchanted mansion of monsters

At a first glance, Villa Palagonia in Bagheria, to the east of Palermo, could be a villa like any other. But walk further into its gardens, and you will enter into the strange and mysterious world of Francesco Ferdinando Gravina II, the eccentric 18th century Prince of Palagonia. The villa was constructed on behalf of … More Villa Palagonia: the enchanted mansion of monsters

On the trail of the nymphs in the Garden of Ninfa

I enjoy hearing stories and seeing paintings of nymphs, the graceful female nature deities who inhabit rivers, meadows and woods in classical mythology. So when I discovered that there was a garden in southern Lazio whose name is linked to them, it was soon on my list of places to visit. Hailed by many as … More On the trail of the nymphs in the Garden of Ninfa

Leonardo da Vinci’s vineyard: the revival of a hidden passion

I returned to Milan for the first time in years this month and I decided to seek out the sites linked to Leonardo da Vinci. Of course I wanted to see the “Last Supper” masterpiece in the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, but I also heard that for a short period of time there … More Leonardo da Vinci’s vineyard: the revival of a hidden passion

Getting lost in Donnafugata castle and its magical gardens

You may be familiar with Donnafugata castle it if you watch the television drama about Inspector Montalbano, as some of the show was filmed there. In fact, the castle is the home of Mafia boss Don Balduccio Sinagra in the series. Situated to the west of Ragusa, the name “Donnafugata” has varying explanations. Information at the … More Getting lost in Donnafugata castle and its magical gardens

Salerno’s Minerva Garden: a hidden trove of therapeutic treasures

While many people have heard of the botanical gardens built during the Italian Renaissance period in northern towns such as Padua and Pisa, a small and less well-known medicinal garden in Salerno actually predates them. The Minerva Garden in this southern Italian town traces its roots back to the 14th century, when the medical writer and … More Salerno’s Minerva Garden: a hidden trove of therapeutic treasures

Pause to ponder: three fountains in Caserta’s Royal Palace

(This blog was originally posted by ItalianGems. If you are interested in reading more like it, follow me at https://italiangems.wordpress.com/ ) After visiting the gardens of the Royal Palace of Caserta I felt amazed by all the ornate fountains and was interested to discover more about the stories behind them. I particularly liked the top three, and so … More Pause to ponder: three fountains in Caserta’s Royal Palace