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The name. which is Arabic in origin, is misleading. It does not, in fact, refer, as first appearances might suggest, to a woman fleeing some tyrannical husband or father, nor to one of the legends lingering in some popular memory, but is a free interpretation and transcription of Ayn as Jafat (meaning Fountain of Health) which in Sicilian dalect became Ronnafuata and so was corrupted to its modem form.

The origins of the building, furthermore, are more recent than the name. The oldest part (which includes the square tower) dates back to the mid-17C when the Donnafugata fiefdom was acquired by Vincenzo Arezzo La Rocca. The building was continuously altered until the early 20C, when Corrado Arezzo transformed the façade into what can be seen today.

What is striking about the exterior of the castle is the elegant Venetian Gothic loggia which dominates the central section of the main facade. The trefoil arches become a recurrent motif repeated in the two-light windows throughout the building.


The large garden, shaded first by large Ficus magnolioides trees then by other Mediterranean and exotic species (succulents and cluster pines) conceals various follies intended to charm and bemuse its visitors. Like the round temple and a Coffee House (where refreshments could be taken), the stone maze and several artificial caves encrusted with fake stalactites (below the temple).


The first floor is open to the public. At the top of the black stone (pietra pece in Italian) staircase, ornamented with Neo-Classical statues, is the Salone degli Stemmi named after the armorial crests of great Sicilian noble families painted on the walls. Among the suites of rooms are some with delicately painted trompe l’oeil ceilings. These include the stucco-decorated Salone degli Specchi (namely the Hall of Mirroms), the Billiard Room and Music Room, each with painted landscapes projecting out beyond the walls, and the bedroom of the Princess of Navarre, paved in black pietra pece (a bitumous limestone mined locally from which pitch is made) and white limestone, where, it is said, Princess Bianca was kept segregated from Count Cabrera (an anachronistc legend, given that the princess lived in the 14C). The Stanza del Signore and the Fumoir are beautifully furnished; the decoration of the latter, a smoking room, being perfectly appropriate to its function. It is papered with pipe motifs while the ceiling is painted with medallions filled with cards and beautiful peacocks at the corners.

The castle has been featured in the making of many famous films including the La

Giara scene in the film Chaos by the Taviani brothers.


Chiaramonte Gulfi
Monterosso Almo
Santacroce Camerina


Monti Iblei
Cava D'Ispica
Castello di Donnafugata Camarina
Cava d'Aliga
Marina di Modica
Marina di Ragusa
Punta Secca
Punta Braccetto


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