PALAZZO BISCARI

Contact: Nicoletta Moncada Paternò - Castello
Via Museo Biscari, 10 - 16
95131 Catania - Italy
Tel. +39 095 7152508 - +39 095 321818 - +39 329 4145955
Fax: +39 095 32 1818
e-mail: info@palazzobiscari.com

Introduction

Ignatius Paternò Castello, the fifth prince of Biscari, realized his dream of preserving his imperial baroque residence founded on the fifteenth century city walls of the city of Catania. The palace occupies an entire block and is kept as an exemplary abode, honouring the city of Catania. Its entrance is on the homonymous street, Via Museo Biscari. Palazzo Biscari is kept as the most beautiful and well kept palace in Catania, just as Prince Ignatius dreamed, a treasure to be enjoyed by all. Preliminary construction of the palace itself began in 1702 after the catastrophic earthquake of 1693 that destroyed half of Sicily.
Before the dreadful earthquake, there was only one little palazzotto. Vincenzo, Ignatio's father bought property and constructed the palace with its surrounding grounds.
Ignatio built upon his father's dream and bought the contiguous territories, pursuing the objective of creating a comfortable and harmonious place inspiring awe. Ignatio himself was called the "Great", in particular for his anti-mainstream ideas. During the 1763 famine the prince opened the door of his barn and helped feed the starving citizens. This act of solidarity is remembered in the Paterno' Castello stem.
At that time, the palace was formed by one floor only; the museum however already existed, on the left of the courtyard's entrance, filled with archaeological remains collected by the Prince during excursions of his Piana di Biscari estate, now called Acate, in the province of Ragusa. Wolfgang Goethe also admired the palace with its collection during his visit in 1787, which can now be viewed in the Ursino castle in Catania.
The Biscari palace is composed by seven hundred rooms, it is located in the old quarter of Catania behind the popular down town area, overlooking the port on the famous marina arches, where trains still pass. Up until the 20's, the ocean water reached the precipitous bastions. From the nearby Villa Pacini , called Villa 'e varagghi or villa of sighs by the townspeople since in the past only retirees enjoyed its beaches, one took the steamer for the beaches of the Plaja.
Eventually, the water's edge retired and after a second intervention the water moved far away from the palace, becoming the elegant and desired sentinel of Catania. For centuries the traveller, even before entering the Saracena door of Via Etnea had to pass by the elegant dock enriched with limestone, the costly white stone of Siracusa, contrasted by the basalt black of the Etna. From his terrace on the marina, Igantius the Grand could view and admire his splendid property.
The heart of the palace is formed by its halls, conscientiously restored after the 1991 earthquake and thanks to the personal interest of the descendants of Prince Biscari, capable of holding conventions and receptions reflecting Ignatiu's desire to open the palace to society. The paintings and frescoes are also restored to their original status.
To the right of the courtyard there is the most recent wing of the Palace, the Sporting - Unione Club of Catania is hosted here along with some private apartments. To the left of the main courtyard, instead, there are other private apartments where eleven members of the family reside, the Department of Culture of the Municipality of Catania , the Rotary Club together with other offices.
The usability of the palace is therefore in the major courtyard, in the numerous rooms, in the ball room and in the terrace over the port of Catania.
A very big double rampart stairway made in basalt from Etna seals the major courtyard which is at the base of the palace; the entrance is a solemn space adorned with seventeenth century paintings of the Biscari State, with its extended vines and the extensive production of silkworm. Next is the painting room, the major art works were donated to the civic museum, the polychromatic mailoica however, established by Ignatius in 1711 and elaborated by artisans of Vietri remains intact.
In the room of family portraits one can see Ignatius' father Vincenzo, residing on the corner cabinet, placed on the same pavement of three centuries ago. The central hall, or party room, is composed by a sumptuous rococo' internal piazza adorned with decorations, paintings and portraits of members of the family placed on three levels. On the first level one can admire the members of the prince's family, the second is decorated with minor divinities and finally the third, on the cupola of the loggia of the musicians, Vulcan celebrates the triumph of the Paterno' Castello family. Here, musicians climbed the stairway resembling a "cloud flake" as the prince himself defined it, an architectural treasure whose structural brilliance remains a mystery that cannot be explained. Finally one last historical note on the palace, the English utilised the strategic location of its terrace as a defence against attack. H.R.M.'s aviation ordered the bombing of the second floor, but the officials realising the historical and architectural value of the palace, refused to carry out the order. They returned the following day however with tennis balls and rackets, creating the first indoor tennis court in Catania among the chiminies and mirrors playing on the ceramic floors.

 

Hospitality

The Biscari Palace is one of the oldest palaces in Catania, a precious relic of the Sicilian rococo past. Its walls are ornate with frescoes that are still intact, hosting meetings, concerts, and events with a capability of 350 people. For foreigners we can organise banquets with traditional menus and musical entertainment with waiters . Conferences can host up to 200.

Furthermore, the palace is available for guided tours in the private apartments as well, with refreshment offered. Palazzo Biscari is conveniently located in the heart of the city near all the historical treasures such as the Cathedral,Via Crociferi, the Teatro Bellini, Piazza Bellini, Piazza Universita', Palazzo degli Elefanti, Via Etnea and Castello Ursino. The distance from the Fontanarossa International Airport is only six kilometres and a few minutes from the Central Station. The major highways are all nearby which connect Messina, Palermo and Siracusa.

 

Technical Notes

Palazzo Biscari was constructed after the 1693 earthquake on its fifteenth century foundations built by Charles V and spared by the earthquake. The initial phase of construction was commissioned by Vicenzo Paterno' Castello, IV prince of Biscari, and concluded by Ignatius Paterno' Castello, V prince Biscari. Thanks to the latter, the palace acquired fame as a cultural center. When in 1758 the prince inaugurated a museum that displayed his precious archaeological collections, the Biscari Palace became a necessary meeting place for erudites.
The perfect fusion between the illuminated ideas of the Prince and the technical experience, mingled with the fantasy of the architect Francesco Battaglia, created the spectacular hall with an octagonal base where many rococo' artworks are found. The loggia of the musicians found here is a unique structure, a fresco by Sebastiano Lo Monaco depicting a meeting of the gods reunited to celebrate the triumph of the family adornes the ceiling.
In a room between the main hall and the windows there is a staircase that raises and folds like a cloud. The external balcony is richly decorated with a high relief that symbolises abundance, fertility, prosperity and wisdom. On the bottom of the hall, decorated with columns of granite and mounted by the family stem one can find an alcove that separates the public part of the palace from the private apartments, there is also a particular bathroom, entirely decorated in wood, with a marble roman floor originating from the excavations of the Catania Roman Spas.
Goethe wrote of these above-mentioned rooms in his "Voyage to Italy"::

Catania March 3, 1787
"...the Prince wanted to introduce us to his mother, in her apartment there were objects of small dimensions. We found ourselves looking at a noble lady of a distinct yet easy going nature, she received us saying: "take a look around sirs, you will find everything as my husband left it. I thank my son that left every object untouched so that I can show my guests our rarities..."

 

Guest-Quarters

A valid alternative to a medium or long stay at the hotel is provided by the guest quarters where conventions or meetings can also take place. Located in the historical center, in the inside of the fifteenth century foundation facing the port, the guestrooms have their own entrance at number 22 of Piazza Duca di Genova.

A climatized flat complete with bathroom, kitchen area, courtyard, balcony and terrace, with two single sofa beds and an extra one if needed.
The renting of the apartment can take place, by appointment, every day of the year in the hours between seven of the morning and one a.m. in the evening.
The rent is comprehensive of electricity, water, and cleaning, weekly change of sheets, parking and the use of two bicycles. With a minimum increase in price, it is possible to have a daily cleaning at hours to be decided. In the following two years we plan to add other two housing units with a wedding bed and two sofas, raising our hosting capability from 2+1 to 10+3 units.

 

Technical form

Contact name Nicoletta Moncada Paternò Castello
Address Via Museo Biscari, 16 - 95131 Catania
City Catania
Telephone +39 095 7152508
Mobile +39 329 4145955
Fax +39 095 321818
Web http://www.palazzobiscari.com
e-mail info@palazzobiscari.com
Hours 7.00 - 13.00 and 15.00 - 19.00
by appointment 13.00 - 15.00 and 19.00 - 22.00
Closed never
Hotel Structure situated inside historical residence Palazzo Biscari
Saloon 1
Number of halls 4
Painting Room Room available 70
Angoliere Room available 70
Ballroom Room available 200
Area espositiva Yes
Aria condizionata
Bar
Facchinaggio
Guardaroba Yes
Hostess e steward Yes
Interpreti Yes
Noleggio attrezzature Yes
Parcheggio
Personale tecnico
Reception Yes
Servizio Catering Yes
Telefono pubblico
Accesso a Internet Yes
Caselle e-mail Yes
Allaccio linee telefoniche temporanee Yes
Audioconferenza Yes
Circuito chiuso televisivo Yes
Diffusione di messaggi sonori
Impianto di amplificazione Yes
Lavagne luminose Yes
Linee telefoniche digitali
Proiettori di diapositive Yes
Radiomicrofoni Yes
Registrazione audio Yes
Registrazione video Yes
Ricezione via satellite
Schermi per proiezioni Yes
Telecamere
Videoconferenza
Videoproiettori Yes
Videoregistratori Yes

 

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