The Neo-Gothic Utveggio Castle, built between 1928 and 1933, rises from Mount Pellegrino – described by Goethe as
the most beautiful promontory in the world.
The Castle offers a magnificent view of Palermo, and was designed by architect and university professor Giovan Battista Santangelo for Michele Utveggio, a Trapani-born entrepreneur who was honored with the title of cavaliere and wished to leave his mark in Sicily’s capital city.
The pink building was originally a luxury hotel, but later transformed into a casino, and finally became the headquarters of management school Cerisdi (Centro ricerche e Studi direzionali) in the 1980s.
In an autobiographical novel of hers, Sicilian writer Simonetta Agnello Hornby described Palermo, Mount Pellegrino and the castle almost like entities with their own personality and feelings:
“Huge, and made of dolomite that changes from pink to blue-green, it seemed untouched by man except for a castle, clinging to its top. Some said the owner had burned through his fortune to build that madness, and that once reduced to poverty he jumped out the window. Yet to me Mount Pellegrino was a symbol of certainty, majesty and peace, and I loved coming to it in Palermo. I never had a doubt it would be there – tall, calm, in harmony.”
“It was at our feet, lapped by a sea that in the distance was all a single color: dark, shimmery blue; along the coast and in the bay, water changed instead from light green to azure to turquoise. Languidly set in its Conca d’oro, Palermo, unthreatened, seemed to be protected by its row of gray warriors, held off by Mount Pellegrino. To the left was the Gulf of Mondello, with its little, placid, sandy beach” (translated from S. Agnello Hornby, “Via XX Settembre”, Feltrinelli, Milan 2013).