Villa Malfitano

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

In the very heart of Palermo, there’s Villa Malfitano, also known as Villa Malfitano Whitaker, a neo-Renaissance style building from the second half of the XIX century; it was designed by the architect Ignazio Greco and is surrounded by a 17-acre park

Although the residence is quite noteworthy for its sumptuous architecture and interiors rich in frescoes and collections, the surrounding park is undoubtedly the most interesting feature of the whole estate.

The garden of the villa was created in 1886 thanks to Joseph Whitaker, the English heir of a family of entrepreneurs who had bought the land and built the villa. He asked Emilio Kunzmann, an expert gardener, to take care of the new green area. The result was an informal English garden, quite different from the romantic landscapes of the typical Sicilian territory of those times.
A romantic park was thus created – still visible today – with the unmistakable features of a botanical arboretum, rich in remarkable plant collections and rare species.

Today, the park hosts 250 species, mostly of tropical and subtropical origin, and is divided into four areas:

The first area (in the southern portion of the park): it hosts tropical essences, some of them rare and quite big, including Cyperus scrub papyrus around a pond;

The second area (in the eastern portion of the park): it includes flower beds arranged in a circle, drawn by the avenues, and a pool surrounded by roses, agapanthus and hibiscus;

The third area (in the northern portion of the park): it features a more geometric design, with a straight avenue, some nice caves, and stone quarries used as prisons in the past (the so-called “Halls of Sirocco”, cool rooms without windows that served as a refuge from the hot African wind);

The fourth area (in the western portion of the park): it includes a citrus grove served by an avenue overlooked by two large specimens of Ficus magnolioides. This path leads to the cottage which used to house the collection of African birds threatened of extinction.

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)


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