Palazzo Lanza Tomasi

palazzo lanza tomasi palermo  - dimore storiche italiane

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.


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Palazzo Lanza Tomasi, which faces Palermo’s seafront, was built in the second half of the 17th century atop the Spanish military casemates behind the 16th century city walls. At the beginning of the 16th century, a crucial moment for the naval supremacy in the South Mediterranean, Spain fortified Sicilian cities with new walls. Ramparts were built for defence against the new artillery warfare. Palermo’s seafront was protected northwards by the fort of Castellamare, southwards by the bastion of Vega, and the bastion of Tuono was built in-between. The area behind the ramparts was militarized, and only in the second half of the 17th century the first palaces were built. The bastion of Tuono was pulled down around 1720, the bastion of Vega at the end of that century. The first building were the Branciforte di Butera palace and the Noviziato dei Crociferi. The Lanza Branciforte family owned the whole bastioned front from Porta Felice, one of the city gates, to the bastion of Tuono. The buildings behind the bastion were handed over to the Gravina family. The Gravinas then leased them to the Theatine fathers, who created there an Imperial College for the education of young aristocrats. The College was founded during the Spanish war of succession and in 1728, the foundation year, Palermo acknowledged as its king Charles VI of Habsburg. The College was closed down in 1768 and the palazzo was bought by Giuseppe Amato, Prince of Galati. The Prince unified the frontage on the sea in Vanvitelli style, adding the 50m long and 9 m wide terrace. In 1849 the palazzo was bought by Prince Giulio Fabrizio Tomasi di Lampedusa with the indemnity paid by the king of Naples for the expropriation of the island of Lampedusa. Giulio Fabrizio, an amateur astronomer, would be the model for the main character in “The Leopard”, the novel written by his great-grandson Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.

In 1862 the De Paces, rich ship-owners related to the Florio family, bought half of the palazzo and transformed it according to the taste of the period. An imposing staircase was created using marbles salvaged from the demolitions made for the building of the Massimo Opera House. A grand ballroom was built with a wooden floor made of alternating walnut and cherry staves.

In 1948 Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, who had lost his family palazzo in the bombing of April 23rd, 1943, bought the De Pace’s property and lived there until his death in 1957. His adoptive son Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi has unified the whole property and thoroughly restored the building. The furnishings of the ballroom and the writer’s library are mostly from the destroyed Palazzo Lampedusa, the furnishings, pictures and objects of the other rooms are from Palazzo Lanza di Mazzarino.

The Lanza Branciforte family, of Swabian origin, moved to Sicily in the 13th century, besides holding the title of Count of Mazzarino also held that of Prince of Butera, first among the peers in the Kingdom, and of Prince of Trabia, second among peers. The Tomasi family stands out in the 17th century for the mystical inclination and the devotion of its members, notably the Saint Duke, Giulio Tomasi, founder of the city of Palma di Montechiaro. Among his children were Cardinal Saint Giuseppe Maria Tomasi and the Venerable Sister Maria Crocifissa, author of mystical texts, buried in the Benedictine Monastery of SS Rosario in Palma di Montechiaro.


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Palazzo Lanza Tomasi is only open to the public for groups of a minimum of 15 people.
The owners, Gioacchino and Nicoletta Lanza Tomasi, Duke and Duchess of Palma, who live there permanently and speak not only Italian but English, French, German, Spanish and Russian too, personally guide their guests through the piano nobile and the terrace garden. During the visit it is possible to admire the historic library of Prince Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and his original manuscripts, including the complete manuscript of The Leopard. The owner who is the adopted son and literary heir of the writer, as well as a musicologist and opera manager, is available for lectures about the novel and its author, music or the history of Sicily.
It is possible to organize cultural events such as concerts, exhibitions, book presentations as well as cocktails parties, luncheons or dinners for groups of guests interested in Sicilian art, culture, literary and cuisine. The Duchess takes care personally of the preparation of the menus, including traditional Sicilian dishes that she often revises, reflecting the millenary influences of the different cultures that melted together to create the history of Sicily.
The Duchess also organizes Sicilian cooking classes (A Day Cooking with the Duchess), a fascinating one-day culinary and cultural experience including the visit of the picturesque Capo market, the class in the kitchen of the palazzo, the lunch and the visit of the piano nobile and the terrace garden.
A part of the palazzo is divided into apartments that are rented out for short stays (www.butera28.it). The apartments have period furnishings, fully equipped kitchens and are all provided with Wi-Fi, air conditioning, central heating, washing machine, TV. Some have terraces with stunning sea views or balconies with views of the historic centre.


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Palazzo Lanza Tomasi

Region : Sicily

Province : PA

City : Palermo

Address : Via Butera, 28

ZIP Code : 90133

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Telephone: 0039 3333165432

Places of interest nearby:

From Palazzo Lanza Tomasi it is possible to reach all the cultural places of interest in the historic centre by foot.
In the immediate vicinity we find the churches of Santa Maria della Pietà, Santa Teresa alla Kalsa, Santa Maria degli Angeli (La Gancia), Santa Maria della Catena, Palazzo Abatellis with the Regional Art Gallery, the Botanical Garden, Palazzo Chiaramonte, Piazza Marina, Palazzo Mirto. In a few minutes we can reach the Church of San Francesco, the Oratory of San Lorenzo, the Vucciria market, Piazza San Domenico, the Oratories of the SS.Rosario, Valverde and Santa Cita, and the Church of Santa Cita. If you choose to go up via Alloro you will find the Gallery of Modern Art, Palazzo Gangi, the Quattro Canti with the Church of the Martorana, San Cataldo, Santa Caterina and San Giuseppe dei Teatini, Piazza Pretoria with the celebrated fountain, the Jesuit church Casa Professa. Going along via Vittorio Emanuele one can easily reach the Cathedral, the Museo Diocesano, the Royal Palace with the Palatine Chapel and San Giovanni degli Eremiti. Teatro Massimo, the opera house, and the Capo market are also just a short walk from the palazzo.


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“The 17th century Lanza Tomasi Palace, facing the seafront, is the home of Duke Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, the adoptive son of Prince Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of one of the greatest works of modern Italian literature, The Leopard. The gracious duke and his charming wife, Nicoletta, have converted 12 apartments of their palazzo to short-stay apartments, filling them with family pieces and all the modern conveniences. […] The duchess also offers cooking classes, and she and the duke are at hand to provide a wealth of advice to help you get the most out of their beloved Palermo”                                                                                                                                Frommer’s Italy


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