The Palazzo Mirto

A sense of faded grandeur permeates Palermo. The stately old palaces which occupy nearly every corner are usually shuttered up, damaged beyond repair, or have been converted for use as art galleries. The Palermitano aristocracy must surely have resided in splendor, but they’ve long since left the scene, removing all trace of their easy wealth. Today, in this chaotic and messy city, it’s almost impossible to imagine what life must have been like for them.

Palazzo Mirto Palermo Sicily

We had no idea what to expect when we toured the Palazzo Mirto, near the Garibaldi Gardens in the Kalsa neighborhood. And actually, we only visited it as a consolation, after finding the nearby Palazzo Steri closed for renovation. But luck was on our side. Here, finally, was a real Palermo palace, fully outfitted with all the furniture, wallpaper, paintings, and ornaments one would expect. We were all alone, there were no other tourists nor even a guard, and we were able to roam at leisure through the giant three-floor palace.

The Palazzo Mirto was home to the Filangeri: one of Sicily’s most important families, whose presence on the island dates from the arrival of the Normans in the 12th century. In 1982, the last surviving member of the clan, resigned to a modernity in which aristocrats no longer inhabit palaces nor receive kisses on their hands from fawning peasants, donated Mirto to the city so that future generations might remember how his ancestors had lived.

Palazzo Mirto fountain

Lavish ballrooms, sitting rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms. Handsome wooden furniture and intricately detailed chiffoniers. Little make-up rooms for young princesses and grand libraries for studious princes. Three floors of unimaginable wealth, preserved almost as though the family had suddenly vanished.

We loved our visit to Palazzo Mirto, especially since we had just watched Visconti’s The Leopard, starring Burt Lancaster and Alain Delon. If you haven’t watched the film, about the final years of the aristocratic regime in Sicily, try and do so before visiting the Palazzo Mirto. It’s not the palace as portrayed in the movie, but the spirit is the same, and you’ll have a better appreciation for the charmed life of the privileged few.

Location on our Palermo Map

Palazzo Mirto Chandelier
Palazzo Mirto salon
Palazzo Mirto fresco
Palazzo Mirto bench
Wall paper and chines vase
Palazzo Mirto ceramics
Palazzo Mirto eagle chair
Palazzo Mirto clock
Palazzo Mirto sofa
Palazzo Mirto beauty powder desk
Palazzo Mirto curtains
Palazzo Mirto horse carriage

This Post Has One Comment

  1. olivia

    i could not have better expressed the wonderful and surprising discovery of Palazzo Mirtoi will never forget the original leather bound copies of classics of world literatureevery room has its own personality and epoquethe horse drawn carriages that brought guests back home still parked in the stableseverything is a dreamthank you for the photographs that are a living treasure

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