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The Mysterious Lady

The historian and independent researcher Mario Bonaviri, working on  a census project of all graphic manifestations in Sicily from the Middle Ages to the Modern Age, during one of his inspections in

Villa Palagonia has found a "Mysterious Lady". It is a graffiti, probably made with the charcoal technique, present in the eastern courtyard, on the plaster covering the lower bodies of the Villa which, as is well known, constituted the service areas, therefore warehouses, workshops and deposits. More than one of the testimonies found on this surviving portion of plaster, some written and others symbols still to be analyzed, made with the engraving technique, and then a human evanescent figure, renamed by Antonio Mineo, administrator of the Castronovo Hereditary Communion, owner of the Villa, "the mysterious lady". This figure represents a woman who has arms and legs depicted through a multitude of lines that give her a sense of incorporealness, an impalpable, almost spiritual beauty. The dress has a vegetal motif of small leaves that cover the right portion of the bust and shoulder, which also reveals the pendant of a necklace in the center of the neck. On the head, where the braided hair reproduces a classic hairstyle, as seen in some frescoes of the Villa, there is also a diadem, to emphasize the high civil or religious dignity of the woman. Another peculiarity of this graffiti is the face: a circle that envelops and symbolically recalls the concept of protection, for Christians that which has no end, a sign of the immortality of the soul that is connected to the perennial cycle of life and eternity. Inside this circular face another geometric shape can be recognized, the two eyes, the nose and the mouth in fact outline an inverted isosceles triangle. Being able to date this graffiti, certainly the work of those who are familiar with drawing, as Bonaviri pointed out, is not easy. It could be hypothesized that it dates back to when the service rooms were built, therefore starting from 1749. The only certain fact is that it has been there for at least 50 years and we only have to thank the hedge, behind which the Lady remained hidden , for having protected it so well over time. The author remains and will most likely remain a mystery, together with the details of our Lady, whether she was a real woman or the fruit of her creator's imagination. Studies will reveal whether it is a mere act of vandalism or a work of art, for sure we know that every detail that emerged does nothing but increase the curiosity and the enigmatic aura that surrounds the already mysterious Villa of the Monsters.

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