Villa Scalea is a very charming evidence of aristocratic holidays of the 18th century in Sicily. At the beginning of the 18th century the villa outside the town became a status symbol capable of judging the owners prestige. In Palermo the Piana dei Colli area become and ideal site for such settlements also because of its mild climate.
Giuseppe Branciforte prince of Scordia bought an estate in Piana dei Colli and changed the church which had been built by the Jesuit fathers of the Cassaro into an impressive residence immersed in a green luxuriant garden with rare exotic plants. At the beginning of the 19th century the garden was further enriched with a fountain with Nymphaeum surmounted by a big 16th century arch which is still extant and was given by the prince of Pietratagliata as a present.
At the end of the 19th century the villa went through a series of rearrangements of the façade. At present, Villa Scalea is an untouched and well preserved villa in Piana dei Colli. The villa consist of a somptuous first floor which can be reached through a grand staircase in liberty style. The floor is composed of seven large halls with frescos by 18th century painters and the winter garden an interesting glass and iron structure.
In the park hidden among huge ficus magnolia trees, the nymphaeum with the coat of arms, the Fontana and the triumph arch is still an attraction for its baroque style. At the end of the 19th century the villa was inherited by Francesco Lanza and Spinelli prince of Scalea who was succeeded by his son Giuseppe Lanza di Scalea who was mayor of Palermo from 1920 to 1924.
Villa Scalea has always witnessed important events and welcomed famous people visiting Palermo. Among there, Burt Lancaster who stayed there with his family for months while he was acting in the film “ The Gattopardo “ . Other guests of Giuseppe Lanza di Scalea were also King Vittorio Emanuele II, Mussolini, Queen Mary of England and king George.
Since 1970’s the villa has been chosen as film set by many film directors including Vittorio De Sica for “ the Journey “ starring Sophia Loren and Richard Burton and Klaus Maria Brandauer for “ Mario and The magician “. At present the villa is the ideal place for wedding-receptions, meetings, congresses and photographic services.