The Villino Florio all’Olivuzza, in Palermo’s central Zisa district, is one of the masterpieces of the talented and fortunate Ernesto Basile. It adds its charm to an area developed as part of the old Norman “Genoardo” park, whose name comes from the Arab word that means “earthly paradise”. Etymology had to seem quite demanding to any architect working here, also considering that “Zisa”, in Arab, means “the Splendid one”…
The Villino Florio was built by the Palermo-born Basile for the Florio family between 1899 and 1902. With this building – one of the first examples of Art Nouveau architecture – Basile proved worthy of those high toponymical expectations: the balanced mix of styles – Romanic, gothic, baroque, renaissance – makes it a unique, fine example of Art Nouveau.
Unfortunately such beauty was not always appreciated. In 1962, an arsonist maliciously damaged the structure and destroyed the interiors of the Villino, which have been restored only recently with much care and effort.
We are lucky to still have the chance to visit this testimony of beauty.