Monreale, a characteristic town in Jato valley, is famous for its cathedral, a millennial solemn monument that combines different styles with references to Northern Europe architecture and Arab art. This mixture of genres is typical of a territory like Sicily which, in the course of its history, has known domination and influence of diverse cultures: Greeks and Romans in the ancient times, Byzantines and Normans in the Middle Ages, Spanish and Bourbons in the modern era. A continuous succession of traditions and customs that gave rise to a strong and lush character.
In fact, these are the stylistic characteristics of the Casale del Principe, a sumptuous agritourism farm surrounded by the walls of a monastery of the XVII century that appears to be suspended in time. In the sixteenth century a lookout tower stood in its place; two centuries later, a convent of Jesuits found its residence. This residence was replaced by a fortified farmhouse in contemporary times.
Today, the farmhouse is a main step of the Sicilian gastronomic routes for its typical organic products and, in particular, thanks to the production of an oil with high organoleptic characteristics. In order to complete the range of accommodation, the Rizzo family, owner of the property, decided to create within the structure a wellness center with a SPA, a rather ambitious project that involved the renovation of an area of the Casale almost completely in ruins; The project also included the creation of seven themed suites and the restoration of some external areas.
The concept behind the project was to reflect the peculiarities of a place so steeped in history and tradition without falling into mere trivialization of the Sicilian style.
The SPA at Casale del Principe is characterized by its relationship with the extraordinary architectural complex in which it is placed, the nature and its flora so rich and unique. The concept avoids the creation of artificial spaces, but is characterized by a particularly strong identity, creative and versatile synthesis of the Sicilian culture and the “ability to build" from its craftsmanship.
The result of this relationship is the creation of sensory and lively space, in which every detail of construction has been designed to exploit the most authentic materials and construction techniques of the region, as well as to emphasize the particular geographical location. The SPA is spread over two levels and it integrates smoothly with the first floor, in which seven suites were included to dedicate them to the territorial values.
On the ground floor there is the main attraction of the wellness center, a cabin for treatments carried out in a "cocoon" or large basket, six meters high and floating on a pool. The basin defines the main shapes and contributes to the creation of spaces. This particular "place" has been designed to provide guests with massages and treatments with essences and products typical of the Sicilian territory, in a very unusual and maternal room. The construction technique, used by local craftsmen, involves the use of natural cord grass marsh wicker over a metal structure. The scent of the "straw" spread by this real sculpture can already be felt from the hallway that leads to the old farmhouse suites.
Next, we find the reception desk crowned with a beautiful graphic 10 meters long that recreates the image of the Cathedral of Monreale all along the corridor that leads to the humid area. At this level there are also treatment rooms, a windowed sauna, a hammam divided into a calidarium and a tepidarium, emotional showers and a relaxation room.
Downstairs, the swimming pool was built in an underground structure, obtained by digging into the bare rock; the same rock becomes the subject of architecture and decorative art. From here it takes life to three-dimensional stylized floral elements that rise along the back wall, to model the ceiling in the form of petals, a symbol of the local biodiversity. The mosaic that covers the pool follows this upward movement, rising from the bottom of the water along the central column, which becomes the trunk of this concept tree.
As a trait d'union between the three levels (suites, SPA and swimming pool), the impressive staircase in painted steel became one of the most distinctive architectural elements of the structure. Going up the stairs you can see the most beautiful parts of the farmhouse, each time discovering a different glimpse, a new spot, a new light or an unexpected shade.