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Palazzo Borgia del Casale

The Fountain of Aretusa
July 12, 2021
August 3, 2021
All Ph. © Palazzo Borgia del Casale

Palazzo Borgia del Casale

When we tell the story of a historic home, we relive a now faraway past, a past that tells us who we are and who we were, it tells us about our history and the values passed down from generation to generation. It means passing on little pieces of soul that we still find within the ancient houses of the nobility, and that together with the beauty of those places, lead visitors through a whirlwind of emotions and sensations, taking them back in time. I’m going to tell you about a place that contains all of these things, a palazzo that emanates beauty and pleasure. We find ourselves in the historic centre of Siracusa, in the magical island of Ortigia (Ottiggia in Sicilian dialect), a unique blend of history, art and culture, a perfect summary of what Sicily has to offer, so much so that it became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005.
Salone di Palazzo Borgia del Casale

"I'll tell you about a building that encapsulates all this, a palazzo that exudes beauty and pleasure”.

The residence I’m referring to was born of the union of two noble families, the Borgia and the Impellizzeri. The Borgia family (Borja in Spanish), now known all over the world thanks to the famous tv series “I Borgia” shown in 2011 on Sky, are certainly the most debated family of the Renaissance, defined “monsters capable of any theft and villainy” (Roberto Gervaso), above all for the shameless nepotism of two of the most prominent personalities, Pope Callisto III and his nephew Pope Alessandro VI, and their lives which were full of unexpected events including incestuous loves, crimes, incredible wealth and exorbitant luxury.
The Impellizzeri, a family of undisputable and clear nobility, moved to Sicily thanks to a noble knight, Cavaliere Antonio Impellizzeri whose sons were well known to King Martino I of Aragon who named them “del casale” for their modest estates. What is known regarding the union of these two noble but very different families is that Giuseppe Maria Borgia was responsible for the construction of the Palazzo that was given the surnames of both noble families, probably joined through matrimony.

How the Borgia came to Siracusa is still unclear. What we do know is that the family had an important noble position in Messina and that two members of the family, Filippo, Knight of the order of Montesa, and Pietro, Prince of Squillaci, were named “stratigò”. On arrival in Siracusa, the Borgia showed off their nobility by commissioning the prestigious Palazzo, built on the orders of Giuseppe Maria Borgia in 1760. The peculiarity of the building lies in its roots, in the foundations that date back to a previously existing palace of the Aragonese era dated to 1396. If we want to imagine what the original structure might have been like, there are marvellous examples still standing and well preserved that date from the same period. Palazzo Dei Chiaramonte, Palazzo Mergulense, and later Palazzo Montalto, for example, give an idea of the magnificent architecture of Siracusa in the 1300s.
The later architecture built in the exquisite Sicilian Baroque style of the post 1693 earthquake era is of course quite different. What prevails in Palazzo Borgia is the strong resilience typical of the Sicilian people, able to transform ashes to shoots.

Ten years after its construction, on the 18th of January 1770, Lucia Migliaccio, daughter of Dorotea Borgia was born in the Palace and, while still only a child, was betrothed to the prince Benedetto Grifeo del Bosco with whom she later moved to Palermo. Lucia often returned to her birthplace in Siracusa and it is here that she gave birth to her fourth son, Giuseppe. Widowed at the beginning of the 1800s, she was caught up in an unimaginable situation. The French were attacking the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Napoleon abandoned Naples and decided to seek refuge in Palermo. Sicily was in uproar. It is in this context that the Neapolitan King Ferdinando I met and fell in love with Lucia Migliaccio. Fate decreed that soon after, his wife Maria Carolina of Austria would die and you can easily imagine the rest of the story! Ferdinando married his beloved Lucia, but everything was done in secret.
Today Palazzo Borgia is still one of the most beautiful palaces of the historic centre of Ortigia, run by people capable not only of making the history of this place accessible but also of bringing magical moments back to life by recreating the ancient atmospheres of the time, all of this crowned by the superb position of the residence in one of the most beautiful squares of Italy.
April 2021

In the hope of working on my wonderful island homeland of Sicily, I graduated in International Marketing, specialising in the Economy of Tourism in two Masters courses. I've always been fascinated by everything that Sicily can offer, from its incredible historical and artistic heritage to its amazing landscapes. I've studied to acquire the know-how and skills necessary to find an original approach for promoting the historic residences present around Siracusa.