Castle of the Counts of Modica in Alcamo was mentioned for the first time in a diploma dated 1391. The construction of the castle was started by the Peralta family at about 1340 and was finished in 1350, under the feudatories Enrico and Federico Chiaramonte; it was a mansion and a defensive structure until the 16th century. If equipped with munitions and food, it could resist for a month anda a half, quartering 30 companies of soldiers.
In 1392 king Martino and his wife were hosted in the castle after the Chiaramontes' defeat, and on September 1, 1535 the emperor Carlo V, during his return from his Tunis victory, lodged in one of its towers with his court and the infanta Eleonora d'Aragona.
In 1534 the castle was attacked by the Islamic pirate Barbarossa. From 1583 and until 1589 it had three restorations.
Since 1828, further to a sentence by Trapani Law Court, Alcamo municipality came into possession of the castle and in the following years it was used as a seat of municipal offices, prison and stable. In 1870 there was another restoration. After the last restorations (made between 2000 and 2010), it has been used as the seat of the Ethnographic Museum and of the Historical Regional Vintage Wines Stock.
The castle has a rhomboidal shape, with a nearly rectangular courtyard. At the corners there are four battlemented towers (two square and two circular shaped), each of them with a particular function, that is:
In the square and highest one they tortured prisoners. The square and lowest one was reserved to sentinels and one of the circular towers was used to give hospitality to distinguished guests.
On the castle sides there are double and triple lancet windows of Gothic-Catalan derivation. Originally it had three doors, placed on the south, west and north sides.References:
The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.
The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).
With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).
Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.
The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.
The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.