Editor: Margherita Basso
Just a few steps away from the fish market in Catania, you’ll find the most important private palace of the city and a precious testimony of the Sicilian baroque era.
The 18th century splendid and frescoed halls are evocative of times of balls and banquets held by the Paternò Castello di Biscari family, whose descendants are still inhabiting part of the palazzo.
Don’t miss the “staircase made of clouds” that leads to a small cupola where an orchestra would once sit creating symphonies. Adorned with white stuccos the staircase was actually conceived to resemble the foam of the sea.
Near Venice along the banks of river brenta, Villa Foscari is a patrician villa hailed as a Palladian masterpiece. Commissioned to Andrea Palladio by Alvise and Nicolò Foscari, members of one of the richest families in Venice, it was built in 1558-1560.
The Villa gained the singular name of La Malcontenta (the sorrowful lady), thanks to one of the women of the Foscari family: Elisabetta Dolfin, who was imprisoned there as a punishment for her infidelity.
The interiors are painted with gorgeous murals by Battista Franco and Giambattista Zellotti and if you’re asking yourselves where the charming faded-look comes from, the answer is, air pollution. Close to a ruin, it was rescued by a descendant, Antonio Foscari and his wife in 1973, who took great pain into restoring the villa to its former glory. It is now a world heritage site and only open for limited viewing by appointment.
Located in the heart of Rome, Palazzo Barberini is an imposing Baroque building commissioned by Pope Urban VIII to architect Carlo Maderno. The construction started in 1625 and was finished in 1633 by Bernini, after Maderno’s death.
Once residence to the family Barberini, today the palace houses an incredible art gallery, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, with masterpieces by Raphael, Caravaggio and Guido Reni just to name a few.
Wandering its impressive halls you’ll be amazed in front of the Allegory of Divine Providence by Pietro da Cortona and seeing both the Bernini and Borromini staircase.
This museum is located in the former residence of Antonio Boschi and Marieda Di Stefano. The couple managed to riunite an incredible collection of nearly 2,000 pieces of artwork, and eventually donated it to the city of Milan.
Spread out through 11 rooms of the apartment on Via Jan, the Boschi di Stefano museum currently displays about 300 works out of the entire collection. Grouped by date, the collection has a heavy emphasis on 20th century Italian artists through the 1960s (including a di Chirico!). Part of the charm of the Boschi di Stefano Museum is for sure the retro decor found throughout all the rooms, including the original bathroom!
The baroque exuberance echoes in this aristocratic palace with unique features. Palazzo Nicolaci is something spectacular and today, brought back to its ancient charm, gives us a taste of the wealth and opulence that Noto has experienced in a long-gone era.
In purely baroque style and with about 90 rooms, it dates back to the first decades of the 1700s and was born as the residence of the noble Nicolaci family who still retains the ownership of a wing today. The palace balconies are decorated with fantastical creatures such as mermaids, sphinxes, hippogriffs and more.
Today one of the wings houses the Municipal Library, with thousands of manuscripts and ancient volumes.
Although the Villa was listed in Palladio’s Second Book of Architecture, the architect’s initial design was sadly lost to a fire in the mid 17th century.
The villa we see today has nothing remaining of the original Palladio design except that the overall appearance is “Palladian” but the present structure, built in 1672 by Enea and Scipione Repeta, looks equally as magnificent.
Our tip to reach the villa? Take a short side-trip off the Vicenza-Noventa Vicentina bike route.
A place frozen in time on a little village on the Comascan shore of Lake Lugano, Villa Fogazzaro Roi is a 19thcentury middle class residence. With its beautiful and still-intact furniture and paintings the villa still evokes the atmosphere of the renowned novel by Antonio Fogazzaro, Piccolo Mondo Antico (The Little World of the Past), who stayed for long periods in the villa that today bears his name and that inspired his most famous novel.
Marquis Giuseppe Roi, the author’s great-grandson, left the house to the FAI so that on his death it would not lose its character.
Don’t miss the stunning roof garden with panoramic views of the lake!
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