Città del Gattopardo

April 13, 2015 / Places
Santa Margherita di Belice, Sicily

Santa Margherita di Belice, Sicily – Readers of the Sicilian classic Il Gattopardo will recognize the name of the palace Donnafugata as the summer residence of the story’s protagonist, Prince Fabrizio. Indeed, a beautiful Neo-Gothic palazzo of that name exists in Ragusa. But the palace that inspired the novel’s Donnafugata is in the region of Agrigento, specifically in Santa Margherita di Belice.

Santa Margherita, Sicily

The author, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, spent summers as a child in the Palazzo Filangeri-Cutò (also known as the Filingeri Palace, shown here in 2007). Built c. 1680 by the Corberas of noble Spanish roots, it had about 100 rooms.

On January 15, 1968, a devastating earthquake destroyed many towns in the Belice Valley. The Palazzo Filangeri-Cutò and its adjoining church were not spared from the vast destruction suffered throughout the Valle del Belice.

Santa Margherita, Sicily

Rebuilding has taken many years; but today, the Filingeri Palace serves as Santa Margherita’s municipal hall. The new neighborhoods are neatly kept on quiet streets with banners that boast “Città del Gattopardo.

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Santa Margherita, Sicily
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Palazzo-Filangeri-di-Cuto

by Maryanne Maggio Hanisch

Maryanne is a teacher, artist, and Italian Notebook enthusiast who lives in New Jersey.

22 Responses to “Città del Gattopardo”

  1. Marie Giacalone

    Thank you Maryanne. I am always happy to see posts about Sicily- can’t wait to go back for another visit!

    Reply
  2. Peter D'Epiro

    Thanks, Maryanne. Santa Margherita looks really hot and arid (as the presence of prickly pear plants always guarantees). You might be interested in an essay on Lampedusa’s “Gattopardo” in my book Sprezzatura: 50 Ways Italian Genius Shaped the World.

    Reply
    • Maryanne Maggio Hanisch

      I will certainly follow up on that, Peter. And yes, it is hot! Have you seen the movie version of Il Gattopardo? The visual images of the prince’s family arriving at their summer residence really do justice to the environment.

      Reply
    • Maryanne Maggio Hanisch

      Do visit the adjoining chapel, John. I wrote about it in December. It is a beautiful place, even in ruins.

      Reply
    • Maryanne Maggio Hanisch

      I love painting such scenes myself! Currently, I am spending most of my time completing a children’s book with illustrations. But Italian streets are so inspirational, and I will return to them!

      Reply
  3. Thanks always good to see beautiful Sicilia…..hope to back again soon.

    Reply
  4. Gian Banchero

    How great to see the photo of the cactus, during my many trips to Sicily I’ve brought back to California different types of cactus fronds, parts of my backyard now look like a corner of the island, oh the wonderful harvest of prickly pears I get every year. Of my eleven fig cuttings brought back from Italy and Sicily they also bring me to Italy and Sicily every harvest time. O, la bella Sicilia (anche l’italia). Thank you Maryanne for the article and photos.

    Reply
    • Maryanne Maggio Hanisch

      It sounds beautiful! I have some prickly pear cacti in the front yard. They do not grow nearly as tall as in Sicily, though. Once, a Mexican lady passing by asked me if they come back every year, as our winters (especially this past one) get bitterly cold. The answer is “yes.” When the weather turns chilly in fall, the cactus plants deflate, flatten, and turn brown. They look totally done! But in the spring, they wake up again. In June, we have the most gorgeous yellow flowers. People drive by our house just to see them.

      Reply
  5. Barbara Ulus

    Where many of my ancestors are from. Some of the Monteleone and Lamberta descendents still live there although the Monteleone/Montelione family was originally from Corleone.

    Reply
    • Maryanne Maggio Hanisch

      I believe Corleone is not far from Santa Margherita. We went there to see what we might discover of our family, who came from this town. Maggio is a common Italian name, though, and many records were destroyed by the earthquake, so that yielded very little. Still a wonderful experience, and the mayor’s office went out their way to help us.

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      • Barbara Ulus

        I have Maggio from St M di Bel in my tree who came to Brooklyn with the Lamberta family.

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        • Maryanne Maggio Hanisch

          The Maggio Family settled in Woodhaven, Queens in the early 1900s. I do not recognize the Lamberta name, but we did have relatives named Giarraputo. Maybe we are related!

          Reply
    • Charles Lamberta

      I am looking to connect with my roots from Santa Margerita following the Lamberta name. I know my Grandfather Pietro and his brother Dominic migrated as young teens. You mentioned that there are still Lamberta’s there, do you have any info on them?

      Reply
      • Barbara Ulus

        Hi Charles
        I have some information on the Lamberta’ name in Italy. Plesase contact me.
        My great grandfather was Antonino son of Pietro Lamberta from Santa Margherita.

        Reply
        • What is the best way to contact you? My Grandfather was Pietro Lamberta who came here as a young teenager along with his brother Dominic. I am trying to go up the chain from there.

          Reply
  6. Marlise

    I have Montelione relatives going to S. Mar.d Belice in 3 weeks hoping to find some family info. I understand a lot of records were destroyed in the earthquake.Any suggestions? Also, what are must see things in the area?
    Thank you!
    Marlise

    Reply
    • Barbara Ulus

      I have Montelione relatives from Santa Mar d Belice and from Corleone. Some of them have moved to Perugia.

      Reply
  7. Janine Kish

    My Grandfather , Giuseppe Fasullo (Joeseph) is from Santa Margherita, Sicily. He had a sister that lived there, not sure of her first name. She owned a palace there. In the earthquake it was destroyed. Her name was Fasullo-Maggio. Are you related to any Fasullo’s? I am wondering if this is the palace that is being rebuilt? My daugher will be visiting Sicily at the end of October and would like to find some relatives, and/or the site where the palace was.

    Reply

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