The Villa Palagonia is a patrician villa in Bagheria, 15 km from Palermo, in Sicily, southern Italy. The villa itself, built from 1715 by the architect Tommaso Napoli with the help of Agatino Daidone, is one of the earliest examples of Sicilian Baroque. However, its popularity comes mainly from the statues of monsters with human faces that decorate its garden and its wall, and earned it the nickname of "The Villa of Monsters" (Villa dei Mostri ).
This series of grotesques, created from 1749 by Francesco Ferdinando II Gravina, Prince of Palagonia, aroused the curiosity of the travellers of the Grand Tour during the 18th and 19th centuries, for instance Henry Swinburne, Patrick Brydone, John Soane, Goethe, the Count de Borde, the artist Jean-Pierre Houël or Alexandre Dumas, prior to fascinate surrealists like André Breton or contemporary authors such as Giovanni Macchia and Dominique Fernandez, or the painter Renato Guttuso.
In 1885, the villa was bought by private individuals, who are still in its possession, and is partially open to the public.
- Claude Arthaud, Les Palais du rêve, Arthaud, 1970 (French)
- Michel-Jean, comte de Borch, Lettres sur la Sicile et sur l'île de Malte, 1782 Extraits en ligne
- (English) Patrick Brydone, A Tour Through Sicily and Malta: In a Series of Letters to William Beckford, Esq. of Somerly in Suffolk (1st ed. 1773)
- (French) Alexandre Dumas, Impressions de voyage
- (French) Dominique Fernandez, Le Radeau de la Gorgone (Promenades en Sicile), photographies de Ferrante Ferranti, Grasset, 1988
- (French) Dominique Fernandez, Le Voyage d'Italie (Dictionnaire amoureux), photographies de Ferrante Ferranti, Plon, 1997
- (French) Goethe, Voyage en Italie, 1787
- (French) P. Hachet, Psychanalyse d'un choc esthétique : La villa Palagonia et ses visiteurs, L'Harmattan, 2002
- (French) Giovanni Macchia, Le Prince de Palagonia, Quai Voltaire, 1987
- (French) Dacia Maraini, Retour à Bagheria, Seuil, 2004
- (English) E. H. Neil, Architecture in context : The Villas of Bagheria, Sicily, Harvard University, 1995
- (French) Madeleine Pinault, Catalogue de l'exposition Houël, Voyage en Sicile, 1776-1779, musée du Louvre, RMN
- (Italian) Mario Praz, Bellezza e bizzarria, 1960
- (French) Mario Praz, Le Jardin des sens, Christian Bourgois, 1975
- (Italian) F. Santapà, Villa Palagonia a Bagheria, Palermo, Palma, 1968
- (Italian) R. Scaduto, Villa Palagonia: storia e restauro, Bagheria, E. M. Falcone, 2007
- (Italian) Ferdinando Scianna, La Villa dei mostri, Einaudi, 1977
- (English) Henry Swinburne, Travels in the Two Sicilies, 1777-1780, Cadell & Elmsly, London, 1790
- (Italian) N. Tedesco, Villa Palagonia, Palermo, 1988
- (French) Angheli Zalapì, Demeures de Sicile, préface de Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, photographies de Melo Minnella, Könemann, 2000
- Several scenes of L'Avventura (1960), by Michelangelo Antonioni, with Monica Vitti, were filmed at the Villa Palagonia.
- In The Wedding Director (2006), by Marco Bellocchio, Sami Frey plays the part of a descendant of the Prince Gravina di Palagonia.
- Filming of the scenes from "L'Avventura" are featured in "Baaria" (2009) which is set in Bagheria by director Giuseppe Tornatore