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james Andrew Grand Hotel Villa Igiea

james Andrew Grand Hotel Villa Igiea

Palermo was the first stop on our Sicilian adventure, and I was quite pleased that we were able to tour nearly all of the palazzos we had on our list!

Certainly at the top of said list was the exotic Chinoiserie fantasy, Palazzo Cinese, an absolutely delicious example of 18th century taste for the exotic and all things Eastern.

Palazzo Cinese

Palazzo Cinese

Palazzo Cinese ceiling detail

Palazzo Cinese ceiling detail – click to enlarge

Palazzo Cinese interior detail

Palazzo Cinese interior detail – click to enlarge

James Andrew Palazzo Cinese exterior

James Andrew Palazzo Cinese exterior

Another dream realized, was our visit to Palazzo Valguarnera-Gangi, which you may recall provided much of the backdrop for Visconti’s masterpiece, Il Gattopardo. It was also captured in several iconic photos by Slim Aarons. There we were received by the ravishing Princess Carine Vanni Mantegna who gave us a tremendous tour of the Palazzo and a marvelous lesson in its history. Sadly, no photos were allowed. I did go prepared just in case – with leopard espadrilles no less, to be photographed in the beautiful ballroom there. But Alas.

Another highlight was Palazzo Mirto – a nobleman’s mansion preserved with its original furnishings. Think: a Palerm version of New York’s Frick. The 18th century palazzo was lived in by its last heir until 1980. It was interesting to see that some of the walls had been upholstered in silk damask which had disintegrated over the years revealing original painted frescoes underneath.

Palazzo Mirto – interior detail

Palazzo Mirto – interior detail – click to enlarge

Another palazzo of note was del Normanni with its fascinating Arab-Norman architecture.

When traveling, one must also allow time to wander and get lost. Often one stumbles upon some real gems, which is an easy thing in Sicily.

Our very favorite restaurant in Palermo was certainly Lo Scudiero, an old school establishment serving Sicilian delights which we asked to be paired with the best Sicilian wines. Bliss!

Next stop Agrigiento!

For our last dinner in Palermo we dined al fresco on the terrace at the Grand Hotel Villa Igiea, a rather fabulous farewell to Palermo!

Dressed for dinner in a Tom Ford linen silk floral dinner jacket, black linen pants, white cotton shirt, fushcia silk pocket square, fuschia ikat velvet slippers, shell cuff links with pink tourmalines, Cartier Tank Divan watch, black suede espadrilles, and my fragrance is Tom Ford Neroli Portofino.


  1. Your experience in Sicily is a triumph! No one else could have made the connections….and met the people…..and be admitted to the Sicilian equivalent of the Brighton Pavillion!

    And much smaller…..more intimate….and charming beyond! Thank you for sharing!

    Lucky me to know you and be able to follow your blog!

    EEEK! It is a thrill a minute!!


  2. PS. I forgot to ask….in the first picture…the fuschia topiaries…..are they bougainvillea????? Stunning! I will copy right away! (many enormous triumphs in decorating and garden design are achieved by shamelessly copying!!!)

    I will start working on those tomorrow!

    Thank you for this wonderful peek into heaven there! I loved it when I was there…..and I saw a fraction of what you did. What I did see was a definite hint of the elegance and beauty that was there!

    And Adam and his brothers played tennis at a Mafia don’s house! (bodyguards included Thanks to the Sea Goddess in 1982!!!!!)
    right outside of Taormina…….fabulous tennis court with views to the sea!
    Not much decorating, I suspect!!!

  3. James Andrew says:

    My Dear Penelope Bianchi

    It was all with the help of dear friends who made marvelous introductions and opened up worlds for us!

    They are indeed bougainvillea!

    Sicily is so rich in beauty – endless inspiration – and one hopes to find a client chic enough to unleash some of this on!

    All My Best and Many Thanks for ALL your love and Constant support!


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