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Few people know the economic and cultural influence a number of British families had in Sicily during the 19th century. The Woodhouse, the Whitaker, and the Ingham, to cite but some of the most significant ones, produced and exported the world-famous Marsala wine, and amassed huge fortunes. Yet beyond their mere economic power, these families also exerted a notable cultural influence. They were at the center of Palermo and Europe’s Belle Époque lifestyle. On this walk, we visit some of the luxurious residences which they filled with lavish collection of art, as well as other places of interest for the British community in Palermo.
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Villa Malfitano was the villa of the Whitakers in Palermo. Being one of the most sumptuous private residence in Sicily, the villa was the location for balls and concerts and hosted European kings and aristocrats. Built in the late 19th century in the neo-renaissance style, the villa hosts valuable artifacts. Splendid furniture decorates a ballroom and a Louis 15th-style saloon. The fame of the garden, with its many rare plant species, was great, and it continues to be enjoyed by many Palermitans to this day.
The Anglican Church of the Holy Cross was built by Benjamin Ingham and Joseph Whitaker between 1871 and 1875 to provide the British community with a proper place for their religious observance. The Church is a fine example of New Gothic Architecture and hosts many English artifacts. English craftsmen and architects, in particular Francis Cranmer Penrose, director of works for London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, contributed to the architectural decoration.
The Hotel delle Palme is one of the most prestigious hotels in the city. The first British residence in Palermo, it was built by the Ingham family. In 1872, it was turned into an Hotel by the mastery of Ernesto Basile, a famed Palermitan architect of the Sicilian Belle Epoque. It hosted many prestigious guests, such as Oscar Wilde and Richard Wagner.

Tour duration: ca. 3h

Contact us to book this private tour of Palermo, we will let you know about our availability and answer any questions you may have.

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Itinerary

Villa Malfitano

Anglican Church of the Holy Cross

The Hotel delle Palme

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Trip Includes: Guided tour

Trip Excludes: Admission tickets (€ 9pp)

Per private party
price: € 300 /Group

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