The Morgana’s Palace in Mineo


Agrippino Todaro, Leone Venticinque

italian_version6433_north_218x_transparent-b2Fortunately, the Morgana Palace is not abandoned as other sites of the village, of which we will speak on other occasions. The originally unitary ownership was divided into an apartment building with several tenants which include the families Giangreco, Nolfo, Pitari, Rizzo, Simili. With its great facade – more than 30 mt. long, nearly 10 high on two levels – the Palace Morgana dominates the square of the Plan of Santa Maria similarly to Ballaro Palace, which is on the opposite side of the church. For majesty ranks among the main civil buildings of Mineo, although the original appearance has been partially altered and obscured by some alterations, modifications and especially neglect in recent decades has produced so much damage to the center of the country: parked cars, tubes and cables posted on the facade, bins for garbage and other beautiful accessories, which in modern times are made to adorn valuable historical places in each city, so that visitors can make beautiful photographs and also services for marriages fail to the best. With some old photographs and graphic representations by you fail to make clear the central concept, freeing him – at least virtually – from the various elements of disturbance while an architectural restoration could return the value it deserves and so add artistic value to the historical center of Mineo .

buglio-1Before the disastrous earthquake of 1693, there was an older building, presumably on the same perimeter, owned and inhabited until the beginning of 1600 by the princely family of Buglio, who will leave definitely Mineo around 1610. [1] After the Buglio then took over the Baron Morgana of San Nicolò. What you see today is the rebuilt building after the earthquake, which destroyed Mineo far as to make it uninhabitable for quite some time, as reported by the chronicles preserved in the parish archives.
palazzo-morgana-dallalto-01The plant is ideally a rectangle, but on one side has an irregular pattern, which gives the stable shape of a trapezoidal polygon. The streets surrounding it are: Largo Santa Maria Maggiore, Via Ducezio, Via Speranza, Vico Morgana. The building has exterior walls made of large blocks exposed, without cover plaster or paint and it shows in the natural color of the local stone. The statement – oriented north – consists of four cantonal two side ends and the other that flank the entrance and the central balcony. There are two orders of apertures, equal in number and aligned in symmetrical form. The ground-floor windows are square and protected by railings, have the frames in relief and in some cases still retain traces of carved decorations. On the first floor, the openings to the outside are all large balconies, with the shelf supported by four shelves or “cagnoli”. To make them even more majestic and imposing plus wide frames, with a molded overhanging triangular decoration.
03The entrance portal and the balcony above, for their construction, quality and attention to detail, they merge in a single monumental body: two large monolithic columns on pedestals rose to support the large balcony, with a series of triglyphs, flowers and bucrania alternating. The flowers are also repeated on the sides below the arch. The balcony is surrounded by pilasters and topped with swags and in addition with an elegant tympanum, which can easily exceed the ridge of the facade, almost touching the roof tiles. At the entrance, two smaller columns support the arch.
An opening on the left side, absent in the project and made of a second time to the needs of use, it interferes with the symmetry of the whole of the building. Aso a small structure, that have been erected on the roof, was added later. In the upper part of the façade a date – “1837” – it is engraved on the stone, perhaps to commemorate a restoration work completed in that year. There are also two marble plaques, of which more later. In front of the palace of Largo Santa Maria we were placed recently for the city administration will of unsightly containers for separate waste collection [2].
04-bOver the arch entrance is preserved a railing of ancient craftsmanship. We switch to an inner courtyard, that is a little elevated above street level. It is open, does get air and light to the two floors and allows access to the various services of the ground floor rooms, which were used as storehouses, stables for horses, workplace, etc. [3] The shape of the roofs suggests that the courtyard was originally wider, to be then occupied by additional constructions on the two sides. The courtyard has had many transformations but recognize balconies and original windows on the upper floor. On the opposite side of the entrance starts a staircase, that after the first ramp branches off to the right and left. The arch above the staircase is very chipped and seems to have been recovered from a collapse, perhaps it came from the existing building before the earthquake. In the interior are preserved some input ports to the interior, which date back to the early ‘900 and have the original knockers.
In the back part of the building, the level of the streets goes down gradually. You see some small openings with grates for basement rooms, where once it seems that was placed the Bourbon prison. The left side too, on Via Ducezio, repeats the formula of symmetric statement: five balconies – with simple decoration, not have the upper triangular frame – and as many underlying square windows, protected by railings. it is possible that at the time of construction there were no other buildings on the opposite side of the road and therefore the palace was directly exposed to the external view of the village, visible from afar.
On the right side of the building, the shortest, beneath the balcony like the others already described there is a large opening, it is unclear whether it has replaced and expanded a previous, or in its place there was only one window with railing. For the rusticated style it seems to date back to the mid-20s of the twentieth century. Over the decades, the local alli’nterno hosted a mill and later a blacksmith.
In the back side of the building, on the corner of Via Ducezio Via Hope, in continuity with the rest of the building there are two balconies with the underlying windows. Then the perimeter wall becomes more complex, irregular and remodeled several times, with various patching walls also recent enough made with modern prefabricated construction, a sign perhaps of significant rebuilding after collapse or other structural problems adjusted regardless of the architecture.
The marble plaque on the left side of the prospectus, equipped with wrought iron support for light torch, was posted in 1982. The text of the inscription says:

In the II centenary of the death
Father Ludovico Buglio
sinologist of vast culture
courageous missionary of Christ in China
in memory citizenship poses
1682 – 7 october – 1982


The marble plaque to the right of the prospectus, dated 1921, and served as a model for the other, brings wrote:

The Mineo Citizens
wanted to remember that in this house
February 17, 1865
was born
the lawyer Giuseppe Simili
orator – literate – reporter
He died in Catania March 2, 1920


Among the famous people who lived in the ancient palace and would deserve maybe a commemorative plaque, it is to remember also Giovanni Antonio Buglio – which Ludovico was the great-grandson – who was the castellan in Mineo in the mid 1500 and played delicate diplomatic assignments abroad, commissioned by the Papal sovereigns.
At the present state of research, we do not have much information about the Morgan family. We know that in mid-nineteenth century, the Baron Don Giuseppe Morgana was part of an association called Civil Society along with other notables of Mineo. In July 1841, the private association had filed application for municipal administration of that time – called Decurionate – to have licensed a place for  establishing a conference room in it. Thus was born – in the same current home – the Circolo dei Civili, today Cultural Circle Luigi Capuana in Mineo, a house of public direct conversation “to ban civil discord, to cultivate friendships, to hold in esteem morals, to encourage the exchange of enlightenment and educate by good example of the level-headed the hearts of the youth of civilization quenching and honor”. [5]
05-bIn the surrounding area Palazzo Morgana is some changes have occurred over the years, as shown by photographs. We know next to where now were placed obscene gatherers used clothing, it existed until a few years ago a phone booth. It is seen in an image of 2006, documenting some excavation work carried out by the Office of the City Tech. The same photo also shows the radio transmitter antenna that had been placed in plain view above the rectory of St. Mary Major, complete with tie rods and a height that could rival the bell tower and the tower of the castle.
06-bFollowing the earthquake of 1990, in March of the following it is done to repair some prodottesi superficial lesions on the house facade. [4] In the picture can be seen: the sign carried by Archeoclub Mineo to report the historical and artistic value of the building; leaning against the telephone booth to the prospectus on the right side; two halogen lights installed to illuminate the church of Santa Maria; a tube of descendants waters, electrical cables and other modern technical elements for which it was not able – or wanted – to find another location. It was different from today the arrangement of the Largo Santa Maria, with a sidewalk, two senior public lighting and many cars parked in three rows.
01cIn an old image, dating to the twenties for the presence of the plaque dedicated to the lawyer Simili, there are two lampposts, one right on the corner of the building and the other placed at the entrance, as if to obstruct the passage for vehicles inside the yard. From this photograph, which includes the side of Vico Morgana, we can see that the grand opening today visible, at the time there was not. In its place there was instead a secondary entrance, of small dimensions. Notice the group of children posing, while two of them away from the photographer to join the others were behind the portraits. The photo also shows that the left door and the small superelevation already existed at that time.
palazzo-morgana-02-b_risultatoAn older photo, perhaps made by Capuana in the second half of the nineteenth century, shows a facade already marked by time and corroded the bottom, while still had not been realized nor the door to the left, nor the superelevation. It is with this image that we want to close, leaving the reader to think a different Mineo, real public patrimony of beauty and antiquity: are rare goods, because in many parts of Sicily were destroyed whereas here still survive, albeit with rapid decay. Faced with the identity crisis that is lived today in the country, perhaps you should look for a possible future return to historicity, recovering the entire old town of Mineo – maybe starting right from the Plan of Santa Maria – in its traditional forms, as in other places has been successfully tried and they also enjoy the fruits of economic and employment art cities, which many fans are looking for and appreciate but in which above all must believe those who live and live every day from unwitting privileged.


1 – The history of Buglio family, because of its importance deserves a thorough discussion elsewhere. We merely provide some specific bibliography: Barbera, Mario. 1927. “Il P. Ludovico Buglio S. I. Missionario in Cina nel secolo XVII.” La Civiltà Cattolica 1; Id. 1930. Buglio, Giovanni Antonio, Barone del Burgio. Enciclopedia Italiana; Bertuccioli, Giuliano. 1972. Buglio, Ludovico. Vol. 15. Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani; “Buglio Family Name.” Heraldry & Crests.; Bùglio, Giovanni Antonio, Barone Del Burgio. Treccani Enciclopedia Online; “Casata dei Buglio.” Archivio Storico Araldico Italiano.; Emanuele e Gaetani, Francesco Maria. 1754. Della Sicilia nobile. 3 voll. Palermo: Stamperia de’ Santi Apostoli; Fraknoï, M. Guillaume. 1884. “Le Baron Burgio, Nonce de Clément VII en Hongrie (1523-1526).” Bulletins de l’Académie Nationale Hongroise des Sciences Tome II; Minutolo, Andrea. 1699. Memorie del gran priorato di Messina. Messina; Palizzolo Gravina, Vincenzo. 2000. Il Blasone in Sicilia. Catania: Brancato; Pepe, Rosario. 2007. Padre Ludovico Buglio gesuita missionario in Cina. Mineo; Pirri, Rocco. 1644-1647. Sicilia Sacra disquisitionibus, et notitiis illustrata, ubi libris quatuor. 2 voll. Palermo: Tipografia Pietro Coppola; “Principi Buglio.” Heraldry Institute of Rome.; Receputo Gulizia, Giuseppe. 1933. Cenni storici su Mineo – con biografie d’illustri menenini. Noto: Tipografia Zammit; Sacco, Francesco. 1799. Dizionario geografico del Regno di Sicilia. Palermo: Reale Stamperia; Tamburino Merlini, Corrado. 1846. Imparzial tessuto storico-critico delle antiche famiglie di famosità, degli uomini illustri, dei più rinomati scrittori distinti in Mineo. Catania: Stamperia G. Musumeci-Papale.
2 – Cfr. Agrippino Todaro, Mineo dove sei arrivato?, “Alba Siciliana”, 2016.08.22, n. 100.
3 – In the 60’s inside the building on the left side of the courtyard it was active a “trappeto” or mill for olive oil, managed by Giuseppe Gambera. Later, become the property of Antonio Bellino, it hosted the most beautiful artistic nativity scene, made with very cork. In the right side it is still active a cobbler’s shop.
4 – To act is the construction company Montemagno, with masons of Mineo Giorlando Cirrone and Incarbone; The job require two-week.
5 – Cfr. N° del repertorio 2409 Enfiteusi, 1908.12.31, in: Leone Venticinque, Altri documenti dal Circolo di Cultura “Luigi Capuana” di Mineo, 2016.11.15.

Fonti Bibliografiche:
Gambuzza, Giuseppe. 1980. Mineo nella storia, nell’arte e negli uomini illustri. Caltagirone.
Id. 1991. Guida turistica – Mineo e i suoi dintorni. Caltagirone: Sicilgrafica.
Id. 1995. Mineo nella storia, nell’arte e negli uomini illustri. 2 ed. Caltagirone.



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