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Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's Book, The Leopard - A Sicilian Itinerary in Pictures

Via Butera seen from the Chain Wall. The left-hand end of this row of stately houses contains Lampedusa's former residence, the Palazzo Lanza Tomasi, and the ex-Hotel Trinacria, site of Don Fabrizio's demise in The Leopard. The windows of the Palazzo overlook the Foro Italico, Palermo's coastal promenade, although in-fill from Second World War bomb damage has made the sea a rather distant prospect. Lampedusa enjoyed the varied scenes through his window when taking a break from writing or teaching literature to his small coterie of students.

The Villa Niscemi next to Palermo's Favorita Park. Giuseppe Tomasi used the location as a model for the Villa Falconeri, the ancestral pile of Tancredi, Don Fabrizio's nephew. In reality, its bougainvillaea-clad walls were home to Fulco di Verdura, Lampedusa's cousin and a jewellery designer once-noted for his work with Coco Chanel. Fulco immortalised his childhood at the Villa in his memoir, Happy Summer Days. It also gets a mention in Peter Robb's Midnight in Sicily.

The Palazzo Filangeri-Cutò in Santa Margherita di Belice was the inspiration for Donnafugata, The Leopard's country residence. Everything but the façade was destroyed in the 1968 earthquake. In homage, the structure has been rebuilt retaining the front-facing outer wall. Despite the reconstruction's best efforts, little of its true character remains. It is now one of the branches of the Lampedusa Literary Park with a commemorative exhibition and the mosaic mural shown above. Lampedusa also describes the building in his work, The Places of My Infancy. For the post-earthquake experience turn to Theresa Maggio's The Stone Boudoir.

Other Sites

Palma di Montechiaro (Photo by Archenzo CC BY-SA 3.0) - looking towards the impressive Chiesa Matrice and adjoining Convent of the Holy Ghost. Both the real and fictional convents were home to a closed order of nuns and only the Prince had visiting rights. One of Lampedusa's more pious ancestors even slept in a coffin within its walls.

The corner of Via Bara all'Olivella and Via Lampedusa in Palermo. This is the site of the Palazzo Lampedusa, which was irretrievably damaged during the Second World War bombing raids. It is now undergoing a massive rebuilding programme. It used to have an enclosed terrace and shuttered drawing-room.

The Fondazione Famiglia Piccolo di Calanovella in Capo d'Orlando. The former family home of Giuseppe's eccentric cousins, Casimiro the artist and Lucio the poet. It was a place of retreat and fevered literary discussion. The library is still full of books that they would have discussed long into the night. The texts include Dumas, Byron, Wilde, Calvino and Moravia. Casimiro's sketches of sprites and goblins cover the walls. It was Lucio's published poetry that prompted Lampedusa to pursue his own literary endeavours.

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