Determined and fighter, the daughter of Prince Francesco Alliata returned to Sicily making Villa Valguarnera, in Bagheria, the cultural center of the whole Mediterranean
By Rosa Guttilla
It is not necessary to browse the recent monographic study of Le Figaro to find out who Vittoria Alliata di Villafranca is , princess of the Holy Roman Empire, Italian writer, translator and journalist, daughter of Prince Francesco Alliata.
A very intelligent woman and full of that determination and desire to do that is a spur for anyone who meets her, Alliata is the heir of a family that has raised the name of Sicily , not only in Italy but internationally, helping to write history of this Island, yesterday as today, surprising and at times “irredeemable”.
To fully understand the figure of Princess Alliata we need to take a step back and start from the studies that led her, among other things, to being the first – and the only authorized – translator of ” The Lord of the Rings “, an epic fantasy novel written by JRR Tolkien at the age of 17 and set at the end of the Third Era of the fictional Middle-earth.
Born in Geneva, after studying in Rome, at the Lycée Chateaubriand, showing a curiosity and a predisposition for languages, and for the various cultures of the world, not indifferent she graduated in Islamic Law, deepening the study of the condition of women in Arab countries .
Years of international travel followed – many of which also became publications (including “Harem, memories of Arabia of a Sicilian noblewoman”) – of discoveries around the world and many encounters that gave rise to a dense network of acquaintances. who still come to Bagheria to meet her.
All this far from Sicily but always with this land in the heart.
A motto above all has guided, and still guides, Vittoria Alliata, moved by the will to do, which is also the phrase that stands out in one of the halls of Villa Valguarnera – a splendid 18th century villa in the Palermo area which is also her residence – where we read: ” What matters is not being a prince but behaving as such “.
The return of Vittoria Alliata to Sicily, to Bagheria, to take back the family properties, relaunching their splendor, with promotion and development activities that spill over the entire Sicilian territory, dates back to the end of the 1980s. , before the 1992 massacres.
“It was an act of love towards this land, towards its origins and towards the origins of my family – Princess Alliata told us – I felt the duty, a call to a specific task, to protect not only my properties, prey to mafia families, but the identity of Sicily which belongs to everyone and which through the action of all can obtain the right dignity. I also had to regain my freedom ».
In those years, in fact, Villa Valguarnera and with it the splendid park, a bound historical countryside, was occupied by the Provenzano clan and, as we read in the memoir of Francesco Alliata – an enlightened Sicilian – ” The Mediterranean was my kingdom ” , the villa was defined as “Don Binnu’s San Marino”, as Princess Alliata also told on television.
Hard and difficult years were those that brought the building back to its ancient splendor – which among other things still contains part of the material of the film production house Panaria Film created by the far-sighted Francesco Alliata – although the park is still cut in two. and there are still illegal buildings seized from the mafia that remain untouchable pending justice.
«After so many years – continued Alliata – it is no longer even a question of justice, it is a question of fairness. Even today I am considered a person who disturbs as much as it is irrefutable, in my opinion, that he contributed to the revival of the entire town of Bagheria, superimposing the stereotypical image that television gives it that of a place where beauty and above all culture find a way of expression “.
Only in the last year, for example, Villa Valguarnera was the set of the film by Ferzan Ozpetek, filming location, for three months, of a Sky TV series, and last but not least the location chosen by the newly married couple composed by the English singer-songwriter and Radiohead leader Thom Yorke and actress Dajana Roncione from Monreale. Not to mention the many contemporary writers who, from England to India, pass through the Alliata house.
My activity – continues Vittoria Alliata – wants to be an active resistance through culture to claim the identity of Sicily, to free us all from the many predatory mechanisms that, for various reasons, have harassed this land for centuries with forms of rapacious colonization . It is necessary, today more than ever, to raise one’s head and look at the many potential that Sicily offers. I realize, however, unfortunately that this is not a shared desire, many are comfortable with the stereotypical image of our Island. I myself wrote a television series on the true history of Sicily and I was rejected by telling me that it would not “create empathy in the public”, this is because I would not have talked about the mafia and flat caps ».
Rosa Guttilla is a renowned Italian Journalist.
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