Even though my Sicilian wanderings into unchartered territory (at least for for me!) have been greatly reduced as of late, I still consider myself a traveler at heart. I can't help but keep my eyes open on my daily doings in the hopes of re-discovering things I already know, or re-connecting with places that I might be too familiar with to think of as special. It is so easy to take for granted the things we see everyday.
One place jumps out at me in particular because it is anything but mundane and I never actually overlook it, even though I walk by it at least twice a week. This gem is Palazzo Biscari--perhaps the most beautiful building in Catania, and certainly its most important private palace. On my way to the pilates stuido I frequent (just a few doors down from the Palazzo) I always peek into its amazing courtyard (pictured above) and think about the time I was lucky enough to go inside, meet the nobles that still own it and live in a modernized section of the complex, and take a guided tour through the grandiose spaces. Much of it remains filled with period furnishings and painted decorations, and it can be rented out for events and concerts.
I really don't know if it is possible to get tours inside the building without an insider's connection (I was lukcy with that one!), but for anyone living in the area or passing through on a visit, it would definately be worth a try. However, the building's exterior, available for all to see, is equally magnificent, with its highly decorated facade and ornate carvings. These can best be viewed from two points: the entrance into the main courtyard along Via Museo Biscari and on the public facade visible from Via Dusmet to see the beautifully embellished balcony. But whether you live in the area or not, take a virtual tour of the palazzo on its web site and you'll get a good feel for what a still-inhabited, privately owned Sicilian palace looks like.
I hope to connect with other local landmarks that I find special and help keep my travel bug afire in the upcoming (stormy? chilly? flu-beridden?) weeks ahead. They keep saying Sicilian spring is just around the corner...I can't wait!