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History of Bagheria



Since its founding, the town has gone by the names of Bayharia, Baharia, and Baarìa. In 1658 Giuseppe Branciforti, Prince of Butera and former Viceroy of Sicily, built a large villa and established the region as the preferred location for villeggiatura by Palermitan elite. Villas like the fortified Villa San Marco (designed by Andrea Cirrincione) with angled bastions and a drawbridge soon followed. The area experienced a boom in villa building roughly coinciding with the period of Savoyard (1713–21) and Habsburg (1721–30) rule and continuing for several decades thereafter. The two most striking baroque residences, Villa Valguarnera and Villa Palagonia were designed by the architect Tommaso Maria Napoli in 1712 and 1715 respectively. Both were completed only decades later. Napoli had been influenced by his experiences in Rome and Vienna and this is reflected in his designs. Other architects and clients like the Giuseppe Mariani and the Prince of Aragona also looked to prints of Roman exemplars when constructing the Villa Aragona (now Cutò) in 1714. By 1763 tastes were changing. The Villa Villarosa, supervised by the young G.V. Marvuglia, was directly modelled on more neoclassical plans published by Jean-François Neufforge in 1760.

In 1769 one of the descendants of the original Prince of Butera redesigned his estate into a well planned town, allowing him to collect rents from the inhabitants. Bagheria was a preferred stopping point for Europeans pursuing the Grand Tour in Sicily including Patrick Brydone, Goethe, John Soane, K. F. Schinkel and many others.

In the 20th and 21st centuries the Baroque and Neoclassical character of Bagheria has been largely obscured by unregulated building