13th Century Castle in Sicily
Ragusa, Sicily, Italy
Welcome to a realm of timeless grandeur in the heart of Sicily. Discover this extraordinary Castle, a magnificent fortress steeped in history and nestled in the charming town of Comiso. With origins dating back to the 13th – 14th century, this enchanting castle holds tales of noble families, ancient frescoes, and architectural wonders.
Throughout the centuries, the Castle has witnessed the rise and fall of dynasties. Once surrounded by formidable walls and adorned with towers and a moat, it was a symbol of power and prestige. Ownership of the castle passed from Federico Svevia to the Cabrera counts in 1392, and in 1453, it was acquired by Periconio Naselli, the Baron of Mastra. Gaspare Naselli, a descendant, was appointed Count of Comiso by Philip I of Sicily in 1571, marking the beginning of a long era where the castle served as the ancestral home of the Naselli family.
Tragedy struck in 1693 when an earthquake ravaged the castle, causing significant damage except for the towering main structure. Restoration efforts were undertaken throughout the early 18th century, but it was during the visit of Viceroy Cristoforo Fernandez de Cordova that the castle transformed into a majestic palace, accommodating the viceroy and his retinue. In subsequent years, the castle fell into disuse until 1841 when part of it was converted into a theater, eventually passing into the hands of the Municipality. The lower section served as a district prison, evoking a sense of intrigue and history within its walls.
Today, the Castle is under the ownership of the esteemed Nifosì family, descendants of the barons of Canalazzi. Its magnificent presence commands attention, standing as a testament to the rich heritage of Comiso. The castle’s eastern side reveals its oldest section—a baptistery dedicated to St. Gregory the Great. Here, remnants of Byzantine frescoes from the 11th century can still be admired. The baptistery, with its octagonal shape, seamlessly transitions into a cylindrical structure crowned by an elegant dome, a true architectural marvel.
As you explore the castle, the northern section captivates with an exquisite Serlian three-light window, known as the Loggetta, exuding the charm of the 16th century. The frescoed walls depict scenic landscapes and flights of birds, transporting visitors to a bygone era. The addition of this loggia in 1728, based on a design by Genoese architect Michelangelo Canepa, adds a touch of Renaissance elegance to the castle’s ensemble. Adorning the castle’s exterior are two ogival portals, one guarded by a robust iron gate crafted from imposing ashlar stones dating back to the 1400s. A splendid fountain, attributed to Gagini or his school, further embellishes the walls, while a lavishly carved fountain shaft from the 17th century graces the internal courtyard, reflecting the region’s artistic prowess.
Situated at the heart of Comiso, the Castle commands a majestic presence, offering sweeping views of the town below. Just a short 15-minute journey will transport you to the captivating historic center of Ragusa Ibla, while the nearby baroque city of Scicli and the renowned city of Modica beckon with their cultural treasures. Though the castle underwent an external restoration for seismic adaptation five years ago, its untapped potential awaits professional intervention. From restoring magnificent ceilings to reviving period objects and frescoes in the baptistery, a world of possibilities awaits the discerning investor.
Encompassing approximately 1,300 square meters, the castle unfolds across multiple levels. The luxurious noble floor, spanning approximately 600 square meters, offers a regal living experience with opulent living rooms, bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, and a meticulously crafted kitchen area envisioned by the current owners. The centerpiece of this floor is a splendid “loggia” affording breathtaking vistas of the entire town. Above lies the Tower, a significant portion of the castle awaiting restoration and poised to become a crowning jewel.
On the ground floor, an office and living area occupy the space that was once stables, showcasing the castle’s versatility. An external entrance leads to a vast room measuring around 200 square meters, featuring captivating barrel vaults. Currently utilized as a restaurant, this space, believed to have been a shelter for horses and carriages, offers boundless possibilities for imaginative transformations. Descend to the basement, where the castle’s prisons await exploration, bearing witness to the castle’s storied past with artifacts dating back to the 15th century.
Beyond the castle’s walls lies a magnificent 1,000 square meter garden, inviting you to revel in the serenity and tranquility of the surroundings. Meandering pathways lead to the oldest part of the castle, where a small Arab-Norman church stands as a testament to centuries of faith and architectural splendor.
The Aragonese Castle presents an extraordinary opportunity to own a piece of history and embark on a remarkable restoration journey. Unlock the castle’s hidden potential and create a timeless masterpiece that will captivate the senses.