Palazzo Previtera, a museum with rooms, has officially opened on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, after 10 years of painstaking restoration by descendants of the family that built the house in 1649.
The luxury guest house has a 12-room museum and library, preserving over 500 years of Sicilian history, and a contemporary art gallery with a programme of international acclaimed artists in residence. The ornate painted ceilings and walls and antique floor tiles have been fully restored and the individually decorated rooms feature a mix of antique Sicilian furniture and artefacts with contemporary art.
The house was built in the town of Linguaglossa by Gregorio Previtera, landowner, silk-maker and jurist of the Kingdom of Sicily. The family became pioneers of the production of Etna wine, starting to export globally in 1810 and introducing the first Etna DOC red wine with the label Ragabo in 1968. Illustrious family members include archbishop Giovanni Previtera, who founded schools for the education of women in the late 1890s. Their history is preserved in the museum and tells the unique story of life on the slopes of Mount Etna over the generations.
In the palazzo, there are three bedrooms – one of which is a suite, which can sleep up to four. In the one-acre gardens, there are two cottages – sleeping two and six. Guests are often personally greeted by the family and breakfast can be taken in the house or in the restored garden, which was originally built in 1908 on the site of a lava cave dating back to 1180. The garden features olive, lemon, magnolia and jasmine trees, well as a wide collection of flowering plants from Asia, Latin America and Africa including Lotus flowers and Damask roses. Dinner can be provided on special request and ingredients at both breakfast and dinner are sourced from the edible garden including pomegranates, avocados, peaches and apricots. Alternatively, guests can walk into the town, where there is a choice of good restaurants just a five-minute walk away including the one Michelin starred Shalai.
Palazzo Previtera is a leading centre for contemporary art in Sicily. The exhibitions are organised by international curators such as Truls Blaasmo, and artists due to exhibit this year include Mathias Malling Mortensen (April 2023) , Mary Lennox Studio (May 2023), Søren Sejr (May- July 2023), André Hemer (September 2023). Contemporary art hanging throughout the house includes pieces by Guy Yanai, Ophrah Shemesh, Leopold Survage and Luke George.
The library houses over 2,000 books including a 1497 limited edition of The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas and a 1758 limited edition of John Milton’s Paradise Lost.
Local activities include climbing Mt Etna, wine tasting in one of the 170 local vineyards, e-biking, hiking and Sicilian cookery classes.
Prices range from 150 Euros to 250 Euros per night with breakfast. Catania airport is an hour away.