Join local expert Giorgio Faraci to meet the Florio family: immigrants from Calabria who built an empire from nothing and watched it collapse along with Sicily itself. An “American Dream” story set in nineteenth-century Palermo that will transport us back to Belle Epoque Sicily as we learn the legends of this remarkable family.
As merchants of humble origins, the Florios arrived in Sicily from Calabria at the end of the eighteenth century. Within a few decades, they became industrial tycoons and leading players in the island’s modernization. Their holdings in Marsala wine, tuna fisheries, steamboats, banks, and sulfur mines created thousands of jobs, which powered the emergence of the new Sicilian middle class. Wealthy visionaries, fashionable patrons of the arts, and lovers of the Art Nouveau, they embodied the dream of a personal and collective revival of the neglected island that was Sicily. During the Belle Époque, Palermo became a stylish and international city, even defined as 'felicissima.’ Crowned heads, the élite of finance and industry, artists and poets came to winter in Palermo and were received by the Florios. However, this was their swan-song, and the decline of the family was dawning. And their decline was also the decline of the Sicilian economy. Yet, even though they had lost a fortune, the Florios have remained legendary in Sicily.
Led by an expert on Sicilian cultural history, Dr. Giorgio Faraci, this interactive seminar will explore the rise and fall of a family who dreamt of guiding Sicily towards modernity and wealth. We will examine the impact that the Florios have had on the island economically, socially, culturally, and artistically. Designed to enlighten future travelers, participants will come away with increased knowledge of this glittering period of Sicilian history.
Giorgio Faraci is a cosmopolitan Sicilian, deeply attached to his land, and curious about other cultures. He holds a MSc in Architecture, and a PhD in Architecture, and he is an expert in World Heritage Sites. He spent a few years working as a researcher at the University of Palermo, where he was involved in an international project about conservation and enhancement of built Heritage, in partnership with the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and the Institut National du Patrimoine de Tunis. An enthusiastic promoter of Sicily, Giorgio helps travelers to understand his land – ideally, he would like to see all travelers experience Sicily as the Grand Tourers did. He is also a member of the Fondo Ambiente Italiano, a kind of Italian National Trust.
This conversation is suitable for all ages.
90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.