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Three centuries of history
The area where the hotel rises, in 1712 was just a home to weeds. In spite of this, Giuseppe Alliata e Colonna, prince of Villafranca, decided that should be the place to create a garden of wonders, il Firriato, which in ancient Sicilian means "surrounded by walls".

Inside this park, which was as big as 130 football pitches, the prince's gardeners planted orange groves and flowerbeds, orchards and trees, and built springs, alleys, fountains and waterfalls, making this garden the most beautiful park in Sicily for more than 150 years. It was a place full of delight for the prince and its guests as there were two lakes for fishing, and deer, bucks and ostriches to hunt, but also two large stables with more than 100 horses which were used both by the prince's family and the royal postal service.

Since 1820, the area of the Firriato was slowly but steadily reduced with expropriations, and its destiny changed forever. At first a strip, which cut it in two making its management very difficult, was destined to the construction of via della Libertà. In 1833 the cardoon patch was expropriated and used to build the Borbonic prison called the Ucciardone. Then, between 1891 and 1892 the park hosted the National Exposition Pavilions, designed by Ernesto Basile, projecting the area towards its future.

The former garden of the aristocracy was radically changing, year after year, to the neighbourhood of the new Palermo bourgeoisie, which was claiming its role in this tiny area between the baroque city of the aristocracy and the countryside, where noble families had their summer houses.

It was like this that the area where the hotel rises became an experimental workshop for Art Nouveau, the architectural language the new riches chose to tell their rise. Palaces, villas, kiosks and theatres surrounding the hotel were the new symbols of this vanguard Palermo: the Kursal Biondo, the Ribaudo kiosk near the Politeama theatre, Villino Favaloro, 
Casa Gregorietti, Palazzo Paladino, Palazzo Dato, Palazzo Failla and Villino Ida, represented Palermo as a European capital together with Paris and Vienna. It was the Palermo of the Ducrot factories and of the Florio family.

In the Fifties, the building of present day Hotel Principe di Villafranca hosted one of the most famous hotels of that time, Hotel Metropole, which was famous for its modern style and the prestigious clientele ranging from the most influential politicians to show business celebrities, writers and artists.

Closed since the Eighties, Hotel Metropole was purchased in the Nineties and turned into the first boutique hotel of the city, Hotel Principe di Villafranca, opened in 1998. A point of reference for the business and cultural life of Palermo for a decade, the property entered the HotelSphere hotel group in 2010, together with Hotel Plaza Opéra. The 2010 restyling seems to have brought back to light all the different souls of this surprising place, from the playful times of the Firriato to the graceful ones of the Liberty age, from the sophisticated elegance of Hotel Metropole to the modern research of the early XX century.