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Palazzo Borgia, one of the most beautiful buildings in Ortigia, is at the corner of Via Picherali with Duomo Square in Syracuse.

 

An inscription on the portal at the entrance reveals that is was built in 1760 by Giuseppe Maria Borgia, baron of Casale, over the base of an old patrice house dated back to the time of King Martino of Aragona. Its current style is the result of the refurbishment of the existing aragonian palace dated 1396; some traces of the old palace are still visible in the Dammusi at ground floor.

 

The stem on the portal shows a golden bull with an eight rays star above, between two kites; in the second half a light blue background with three golden stripes (the weapon of Borgias).

 

Frescos and temperas of the Piano Nobile have been carefully restored highlighting the great historic artistic value.

LUCIA MIGLIACCIO

 

Palazzo Borgia, one of the most beautiful Rococo buildings in Ortigia, stands at the confluence of Via Picherali and Piazza Duomo.

It is from this corner of Ortigia that a singular story of kings and queens of French madams and English lords begins, featuring a splendid woman, the Syracusan Lucia Migliaccio, duchess of Floridia.

Lucia Migliaccio , daughter of Vincenzo Duke of Floridia and Dorotea Borgia was born in Syracuse on 18 January 1770 in her mother's family palace.

 

At the age of just 11, she married Benedetto Grifeo del Bosco, Prince of Partanna, and went to live in Palermo, but Lucia's stays in the Borgia house in Syracuse remained frequent, where in 1794 she gave birth to her fourth son Joseph. In 1812, Lucia Migliaccio was widowed.

 

King Ferdinand of Bourbon was in Palermo at the time. In the same year, he had to leave power for some time to his son Francis as vicar and, for diplomatic reasons, had his wife removed from Sicily.

It was during those troubled years that Ferdinand of Bourbon met the beautiful Lucia Migliaccio in Palermo and fell madly in love with her. Having been widowed by Maria Carolina of Austria in September 1814 just two months later, on 23 November, he secretly married the Syracuse noblewoman in Palermo.

It was a morganatic wedding, i.e. a regular civil and religious marriage, but without granting his wife the title of queen. Nevertheless, Lucia Migliaccio was much loved by the Neapolitans and in popular memory became 'Queen Lucia' to everyone.

 

In June 1815, after a decade of French rule, King Ferdinand was able to return to Naples with his new wife.

In Naples, King Ferdinand gave Lucia Migliaccio the Partanna Palace in Chiaia (on today's Piazza dei Martiri), and had her build the splendid panoramic villa on the Vomero hill, which, in memory of the noblewoman from Syracuse, is called the Floridiana.

 

The chronicles of the time have handed down the memory of a mild-mannered and kind-hearted woman, brunette, with beautiful eyes, very seductive and youthful-looking even in her old age.

 

Lucia Migliaccio, was able to keep herself apart from the intrigues of court and politics, endearing herself to the king and the entire royal family. In 1817, it was thanks to this woman that Syracuse was elevated to chief city of Sicily, at the behest of King Ferdinand.

Having been widowed for the second time, following the death of King Ferdinand in 1825, Lucia Migliaccio left the Royal Palace forever and went to live in Palazzo Partanna in the elegant Chiaia quarter, where she died on 26 April 1826, at the age of 56. 

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