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.
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.
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.”