Si Trova: Nel territorio di Maniace, nei pressi di Bronte
Lat: 37° 51' 31.61742" N - Long: 14° 49' 8.205506" E
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In a pleasant place near the left bank of the Saraceno stream, in 1173, Queen Margherita of Navarra, wife of Guglielmo I and mother of Guglielmo II, founded a Benedictine abbey that had about five hundred years life, until the earthquake of January 1693, which demolished many parts and also ruined the large defense tower adjacent to the apse of the church.
The Basilian fathers were forced to leave the monastery.
The church, although modified and without apses, is still a valid example of norman architecture.
It keep parts of the original wooden ceiling inside.
In 1799 the whole area was donated by Ferdinand III to Admiral Horatio Nelson, who became Duke as a reward for the aid provided.
However the admiral never had the time or the fortune to go in the Sicilian possessions; his heirs lived there permanently until a few decades ago and gradually transformed the ancient abbey into a sumptuous noble residence.
Today the apartments are used as a museum.
The duchy includes the noble part, the remains of the ancient Benedictine abbey dedicated to Maria Santissima, the small church of Santa Maria di Maniace and a large and luxuriant park.
The apartments still preserve the luxuriant furniture of the time, including a piano that is still in good working order and maintained in a perfect state of tuning.
The late-norman church of Santa Maria, with three naves and preserving the byzantine icon of the Virgin Odigitria, is accessed via a wonderful portal.
Outside, in the center of a square courtyard there is a lava stone well, around which the small laboratories, warehouses, stables and barn were originally collected.
Outside there are the remains of two towers belonging to the abbey's defense system.
The park extends for about four hectares.
An area used as an English garden is characterized by the presence of local and exotic secular plants, by a green lawn surrounded by wisteria, roses and flowers and various plants.
The gardens have been recreated with great care, with a formal labyrinth and a very old and huge magnolia that is the pride of the place.
The park houses an open-air museum of lava stone sculptures with works by world-famous artists.
In the park there are also the remains of a peasant village called "Borgo Caracciolo" built from 1941 to 1944 by the Italian state in memory of the Neapolitan revolutionary whose intentions had been frustrated by Nelson.
Castle opening times: summer: 9:00 - 13:00 / 14:30 - 19:00 winter: 9:00 - 13:00 / 14:30 - 17:00.
For info tel 095 690018.
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