Why is it called Palazzo del Diavolo?
Local tradition has the name connected to an event in its construction: several times, the corner linking the two arms of the balcony surrounding the entire building might have collapsed, despite it being supported.
When someone observed that it could be “opera tu tiaulu” (devil’s action), the decision to represent the mask of the devil on one of the brackets, the one in the corner, would definitively resolve the question. Following this event, people began to believe that there was something mysterious about the building.
In reality, it is possible that the name derives from the numerous representations of likeable demons that are found at different points on the window cornices and on the main door of the building. The origin of these depictions is not clear, but they have the esoteric and apotropaic (defending against the evil eye) features that recall those of the castles of Frederick II of Swabia in Apulia, and other constructions in various areas of Italy.
Palazzo del Diavolo’s new life
The developments in the last few years which have concerned Palazzo del Diavolo, opening it to the prospect of a new life, could not have taken place without the contribution of a particular figure: Alberto Scherillo (1946-2010). A visionary of far-reaching genius, Alberto, in the ’90s, fell in love with Salento and intuited its great potential (the new Tuscany of the third millennium!). During his stays at the Hotel Costa Brada on the Baia Verde of Gallipoli, he was advised to take into consideration, for a local base, Parabita and in particular Palazzo del Diavolo, which he decided to purchase in 2001.
His projects for the development of the area, in particular the creation, in the Aragonese castle of Parabita, of the Accademia della Cucina Mediterranea (Academy of Mediterranean Cuisine) aroused initial enthusiasm without being able to catalyze the same concrete entrepreneurial initiative and commitment.
When the project was suspended, in August 2008, his sister Maria Teresa and his brother-in-law Giuseppe Pitotti decided to purchase the property and, later, to undertake the restoration work with the desire to open it up to Italian and foreign visitors interested not in an ordinary as-usual vacation, but in an experience of encountering a diverse culture rich in ancient traditions.
The restoration, carried out in 2011-2013 by Leopizzi 1750 of Parabita (a family company that has worked for twelve generations in the construction and restoration of churches and monuments), followed rigorous philological and conservational criteria. Architect: Corrado Cazzato of Presicce. This has led to the decision to preserve the typical architectural elements: the vaulting, the materials with the use of local stone (carparo and Lecce stone), the layout and the original walls.