Sicilian Aristocrats and Noble Palaces
Sicily is a land of aristocrats. Many of Sicily’s noble families are descendants from the Normans and Swabian knights or Angevin nobility. Over time, marriages morphed into convenient unions between cousins to keep large estates in their families.
FACTS: The blueblood idea comes from 13th century Spain, where a knight would show the blue veins of his forearms, visible against pale skin, to any doubters who thought he might be part Moor.
Sicilian nobility has always been a world apart, almost totally unrelated to society outside.
Early aristocrats were land owners: princes, dukes and marquis living off private income under the protection of governors with no intention to build something important for the society nor to administer their own goods except to preserve their privileged lifestyle, wealthy estates and coat of arms.
In Sicily, noble families carried out a certain amount of political and economic control until the early 1900s. In terms of social prestige, perhaps, they remained the most important class and still are in some ways.
Today one can find that same courtly atmosphere almost intact in many Sicily hidden corners, where many blue-blooded descendants still live in. In fact, a number of noble families have opened their palatial town or country homes to visitors, often on a private and exclusive basis. Noble Palaces in the main cities of Palermo, Siracusa, Catania as well as Rural Mansions converted into famous Wineries, Museums or Baglio Hotels in the surrounding countryside.
Some will be happy to meet you for a quick welcome and lecture on their own family history and even share a cup of coffee with your guests. Next to the aristocratic manners and approach you will experience the famous Sicilian warm hospitality that will make your stay a truly memorable one.
Sicilian Aristocracy is well described in The Leopard (Il Gattopardo), a successful book translated in 46 languages that was written by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa in 1954 about a century after Sicilian nobility demise, telling about the declining fortunes Prince of Salina’s family. The perfect book to read before travelling to Sicily.