Conversation with Arturo Arezzo of Villa Ragusa
Below the magnificent Duomo of the barocco city of Ragusa in Sicily, Villa Ragusa is a small and typical house dedicated to the local culture of literature and art. Like in a family house, books, paintings, sculptures are everywhere and guide your mind and your dreams.
In an island of diverse cultures, Arturo Arezzo belongs to one of Ragusa’s oldest families, and he wants to share the particular spirit of this part of Sicily with his guests. Follow him through his vacation rental in Sicily, room by room, book by book, sentence after sentence…
Arturo, your house is itself a kind of invitation to travel for voyagers. When guests arrive in your bedrooms here, they discover few words on the wall, above the bed. Why?
Arturo Arezzo: “Most of the time, it’s a poetic sentence from Sicilian or Italian literature. It’s important to connect my guests to Sicilian culture and with something they cannot photograph. Like the music of literature. If they want to learn more about it, they can find a book from the author somewhere in the house. This is why each bedroom is dedicated to an author from Sicily or connected to its culture, like Giovanni Verga who is a kind of Zola. I want to make them known to my guests. I am doing the same thing with paintings and sculptures. I think it’s important to understand this island.”
Even your decoration reminds us of old Sicilian culture. How do you make it so modern?
AA: “I’m trying to associate comfort and modernity with traditional art and craft. For example, I use the pattern of old Sicilian fabrics to create a special effect of decoration which is a clin d’oeil [or reference] to the island. This is why I use metallic structure because it reminds me of passing time. Passing time is a philosophy, especially in Sicily. It’s a kind of travel too. My guests can feel this.”
You’re right, but at the same time, here in Ragusa, the travel seems to have stopped at the barocco period.
AA: “Yes, kind of. The city of Ragusa, like the town of Modica, was almost completely destroyed in the great earthquake of 1693. This is why a large part of the town was rebuilt in barocco style. It gives the city a very particular kind of unity and elegance. I think it brings a high quality of life. If Ragusa can count four starred restaurants in the Michelin guide, it is not by chance. We have the sense of authenticity and hospitality here. Maybe because as Sicilians, we’re coming from somewhere else…”
Book a stay at Villa Ragusa here.
Main photograph by Léonard Lièvre.