Palazzo Bertini, where we are located, is one of the eighteen monuments in Ragusa listed among the Unesco World Heritage Sites in 2002. With its peculiar facade, in fact, it makes a relevant example of Baroque architecture in South-eastern Sicily.
It was built in the last decades of 18th century by Don Salvatore Floridia along "Via Maestra", the road linking the old beautiful district of Ibla to Ragusa. The Palace was then bought by Don Giuseppe Bertini in the middle of the 19th century and it took its name from this family.
In 1847 the road level was lowered: the three original doorways became three balconies. The distinguishing feature of the building, actually, consists of the three "mascheroni", or sculpted masks placed on the keystones of these doorways, now balconies.
According to the local tradition, they were an original "trait d'union" between the ancient aristocrat Ibla and the new emerging Ragusa. In fact, after the 1693 earthquake and the reconstruction of the town on two different sites, the Palace seemed to stand as a guard to the new growing town with its "three powerful men", the three masks looking at the passer-by in a mocking, defying way.
Carved out of "pietra pece", the local asphaltic stone, these three huge faces standing out in the facade are the result of local skilled craftsmanship and they reveal at once a powerful imagination and a deep realistic insight of the artist. We believe they have an emblematic role because they emphasize the human characters of the power.
On the right is the rich merchant, chubby and satisfied, with a turban, a well-kept moustache and a calm appearance: he is the symbol of those who have everything and can do anything thanks to their money. In the middle is the aristocrat, distant and contemptuous, with a large hat, curly hair, a firm, steady look: he shows the power of those who can do everything even if it is illegal. On the left is the pauper, grotesque and deformed, with his tongue sticking out, some missing teeth and an enormous nose: this is the power of those who, having nothing, have nothing to lose.
Baroque art, where appearance and dramatization, grandeur and poverty, vice and irony come together in the most different way