Palazzo Lanza Tomasi is located in the historic centre of Palermo, in the heart of the Kalsa quarter, the Arab Halisa, the elected citadel of the Emirs. The palazzo, built at the end of the 17th century atop the Mura delle Cattive, the Spanish city walls, overlooks Palermo’s stunning seafront with the twelve windows of its façade and the lush terrace, a real hanging garden rich of Mediterranean and sub-tropical essences.
The palazzo has been the last home of Prince Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, the celebrated author of The Leopard, who spent his last years of life there after the distruction of his family mansion, Palazzo Lampedusa, during the the Allies’ bombings of April 5th 1943. His adopted son, Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, has unified the whole property and lovingly restored the building.
The main charm of the palazzo rests in its location and the grandeur of serene space and glorious sunlight. Its interior decoration is typical of the great houses of Palermo’s aristocracy and contains a valuable collection of furnishings from the great Sicilian cabinet-makers.
Most of the piano nobile include the writer’s house museum. Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s historical library has remained intact since his death. In the ballroom all his manuscripts are on display: the complete manuscript of The Leopard, the typescript refused by two publishers before being accepted by Feltrinelli after the author’s death, a draft of the fourth part of the novel including a page that the author never added to it, the manuscript of his Childhood Memories, his Lessons of English and French literature and a first draft of the short story The Siren. The furnishing of the grand staircase, the two entrance halls and the historic library includes pieces of furniture and paintings salvaged from the destroyed Palazzo Lampedusa, some come from the palazzo in Santa Margherita di Belice, the summer house of the Filangeris di Cutò , the author’s maternal family, wrecked by the earthquake of the Belice valley in 1968. In the library two large Caltagirone vases , early 18th century, and, over the fireplace, a Saint Jerome signed by Jacopo Palma il Giovane. In the ballroom the overdoors and a few 18th century pieces of furniture come from Palazzo Lampedusa as well as a number of paintings, among which an interesting little painting by Domenico Provenzano featuring the family of the “Saint Duke” Giulio Tomasi di Lampedusa, Duke of Palma. Among his children are Saint Giuseppe Maria Tomasi and the Venerable Sister Maria Crocifissa (the Blessed Corbera in the novel). The remaining furnishings of the piano nobile come from Palazzo Lanza di Mazzarino. Noteworthy are a stunning mid-16th century inlaid marble table, originally at Villa Palagonia, two rare early 18th century Sicilian chests-of-drawers in ebony and ivory, two Rezzonico style Murano “cage”chandeliers and a central one Louis XVI period, paintings by Pietro Novelli, Antonio Catalano, Federico Barocci. Among the works of modern and contemporary artists, some maquettes for opera sets by Arnaldo Pomodoro, Giulio Paolini, Mimmo Paladino, Robert Wilson, two pen-and-ink portraits by Pablo Picasso, dated 1910, representing the Marchioness Anita de Villa Urrutia, maternal grand-mother of Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, and a portrait of his mother Conchita by Giulio de Blas.
The third floor of the palazzo is divided into apartments that are rented out for tourist accommodation.