Bagheria is situated on the north coast of Sicily, close to the south-east of Palermo.
The town was at one time an enclave where the wealthy of Palermo built their baroque villas away from the main town in the rolling vineyards and lemon plantations of the region. The trend was started by the Prince Giuseppe Branciforte, and soon many other wealthy merchants followed the Prince's lead and it is the resultant villas that are the highlight of a visit to Bagheria.
The highlight among these is the Villa Palagonia, a very unusual design by Tommaso Maria Napoli(although still clearly baroque) that has a grand, ornate balustraded staircase curving up to the decorative main entrance. The unusual feature of the Palagonia is that the facade is curved, a theme which continues with the rooms inside the villa (the villa is open to the public so you can admire these eccentricities). The ornateness continues inside, for example in the famous gallery of mirrors.
The other 'curiosity' at Villa Palagonia is the statues of numerous grotesque statues around the walls and gateway to the villa.
There are numerous other villas to admire in Bagheria although many are not open to the public.
A couple of the other villas constructed around the same time and close by are the Villa Trabia and the Villa Valguarnera.
There is a gallery of modern art housed within yet another villa - the Villa Cattolica on via Consolare.
With palermo and other development now encroaching on Bagheria the town has doubtless lost part of its original allure, but looking at the villas still allows a glimpse into how life would have been for the Sicilian gentry 250 years ago.