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San Marco Castle -Hotel

Contrada San Marco
Calatabiano, Sicilia 95011, IT
Phone. +39.095.641181-Fax +39.095.642635

Category: Villa&Castle

Used in the following map:

Ignazio Sebastiano Cruyllas, Prince of Palagonia, continuing his father's work even more eagerly, went along with the estate's and infrastructures' economic organisation.
Within this project, in 1689 he started the construction of a warehouse and of a new residence on the beach of Calatabiano, where there was a water well, after which the district of "Acquicella" was called.
For Calatabiano the importance of a new way out to the sea was such that for the building of the new port of call, Ignazio Gravina spent more than 1110 onze out of the 1690 which he had altogether spent for new buildings and for the purchase of other existing ones within the State of Caltabiano.
This residence, with the outbuildings, was not to be considered as the main building of a factory farm, but as the commercial vital core of a composite economic system, comprising a very wide hinterland.

With an obligation act dated 30th January 1689, the masters Francesco Liuzzi, Giannetto Leonardo, Mario Panebianco e Giovanni Arcidiacono from Acireale committed themselves with the Prince of Palagonia, Ignazio Sebastiano Cruyllas for the construction of the Prince's residence. The masters Flavettas from Acireale undertook the realisation of the residence and the warehouse lava carvings. Quite certainly, the buildings construction was not attained according to project drawings, but on the basis of an outline by the Flavettas and of the Princes wishes.
The main building of the complex, consisting of the warehouse and the large manor house was completed in less than two years, as shown by the receipts made out by the stonecutters Francesco e Filippo Flavetta in December 1690 on the doors and windows lava intaglios.

The amount of works Ignazio Sebastiano Gravina had built to the year previous to his death, are described in a detailed report dated November 1693.
Actually, the residence itself in that period was rather different, as shown by the documents of that time. The tongs-shaped internal main stair did not exist and only two out of the present four turrets at the corner of the house were there, the ones at the south-east and south-west edges. The horizontal load-bearing structures between the ground floor and the first floor, now constituted by masonry vaults, were originally in wood.
Where now the eastern prospect's and the turrets' cornice, decorated with elegant small vases and volutes, is, there was a classic cornice in the style of the monastic Capuchin. The building complex at the port of Acquicella, did not suffer serious damage by the earthquake of 9th and 11th January 1693. In 1664, Ferdinando Gravina, son of Ignazio Sebastiano, had new buildings added to the ones already existing.

In 1697, the Church of S. Antonio da Padova was built and still exists by the house, although partially collapsed.
A brief report of 1718 described the additions and adjustments Ferdinando Francesco Gravina had carried out. The report also account for the other two turrets "garite" he had added to the "big farmhouse" on the northern side, facing the two already existing.

In 1736, the formally most interesting element of the complex, the feudal residence with the four angular turrets, seemed not to have a pleasing look, since in an estimate report of the same year, related to the factories the Prince had built, the experts claim that the turrets had to be modified.

It seems that Ignazio Sebastiano III, succeded to Ferdinando Francesco in 1737, did not get any works done and that Ferdinando Francesco Gravina ed Alliata, invested with the Princedom and Lordship of Calatabiano in 1747, gave the residence its definitive lay-out, having the tongs-shaped main stair built and the cornice adorned with small vases and vaults.
The main stair had been certainly long built , when in 1774 the estate of Calatabiano was granted to Antonio Abadotto, former governor. The grant, as shown in the related receipt, involved all the Prince of Palagonia's residences, that along with the other described buildings, appeared to be wanting maintenance or was even falling down. In 1856, the residence along with the warehouse and a large surrounding estate were granted to the Baron Pasquale Pennisi. The Pennisis gave the buildings their present lay-out.

Amongst the most interesting nineteenth century variations, to be mentioned is the building of the millstone and the cellar south of the residence (in the area where the warehouse was), of several houses for workers accommodation and of a high surrounding walls and gate.
The restoration works were completed on 3rd June 1879, the date indicated on the cellar's external northern wall. A large through arch was realised between the cellar and the residence, in order to hold up a terrace for the use of the manor house.
In the most recent years, the building and the surrounding ground has been used as a hotel, which has avoided the alteration of the ancient structure and at the same time has given travellers and connoisseurs the chance to know this wonderful and unique model of Sicilian baroque architecture.


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