The Baron’s Table in Siracusa

Main piazza in Ortigia, Siracusa

On one of my tours to Sicily I took my group to meet a member of Italian aristocracy, a Baron. He is also a winemaker who has a vineyard in the countryside but we were invited to his ‘town’ house for a tasting.

John in upstairs ballroom looking toward the piazza

Waiter ready to serve us copious quantities of wine and food in the cellar

His palazzo is in Ortigia, a little peninsular connected by a bridge. A few years before I had visited this same piazza but little did I know that I would one day go inside such a historical palace and meets its owner. It turned out a special experience and from an entirely different perspective from my first. The palazzo is behind the white market umbrellas.

More of the antipasti at the wine tasting

He is a collector - in the cellar many large vessels for alcoholic brews, chained so no one helps themselves

I had arranged for my group to taste the wines he produces – the tasting room was on the ground floor and along with the wines, he provided an amazing array of dishes and the following day when we had to cancel a boat trip due to rain,he decided to invite us back and ‘upstairs’ to lunch. It was a wonderful programme substitute – to be able to go through his home and then to dine at his table.

Here are some more pictures of the beautiful home and the food he bestowed on our group.

Fine art everywhere

collection of walking sticks

African contemporary chair

The cellar

Another view of the cellar and our first repast

We nearly demolished this ricotta and artichoke torte in the cellar

Twin Oryx in the hunting room

An elegant carriage in the greeting room

Symmetry in reception room, note fading fresco on back wall, sloping table, so shabby chic

Note the wildlife collection. The Baron dedicated a couple of rooms to his trophies and handmade furniture from Africa. Some people are appalled by stuffed animals and the fact that a sport is created from killing them.

I just hope the African government is keeping a close watch on how their various species are being hunted and making sure they will never become extinct.

We had to avoid stepping on the head

I was taken with the well-preserved hand painted carriage, everything in this palazzo pointed to past lives well led.

Fragile book

He collects old maps of the region.  Another historical connection of note is that the Baron mentioned that his ancestors entertained Lord Nelson’s special lady friend Emma also known as Lady Hamilton, in this very Palazzo and they reported that she danced for them covered only in diaphanous scarves, a particular outfit she was famous for donning that scandalised society at the time.

The Baron’s rare book collection should be in a temperature controlled library but I doubt he cares to part with them.

The table groaned with food

We had a dining room to ourselves.

My Semi freddo dessert

Our group dining on the second day

The event was informal as we were able to serve ourselves from a central table in the adjoining room.

Grapes anyone

Italian biscuits at the end presented simply on a linen cloth

The Baron has published a book of the collection he owns of valuable etchings, drawings and artworks from the geography of the area, the house and its history. He presented me with a copy for my library. A perk for being the organiser of the tour. Ciao Roz

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  1. #1 by bagnidilucca on August 20, 2010 - 10:07 am

    What a stunning place!! The setting, the food, the collections – how wonderful. I think I have to go there.

  2. #2 by Anna Johnston on August 20, 2010 - 10:02 pm

    What a wonderful experience to tour these old places, thanks for sharing, I love the Italian biscuits so simply displayed on a napkin that way.
    Cheers Anna

  3. #3 by Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial on August 21, 2010 - 8:24 pm

    Magnificent photos, Roz, thank you! The first one is particularly appealing!

  4. #4 by Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella on August 24, 2010 - 10:34 am

    What a truly amazing experience! It sounds like a once in a lifetime experience :)

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