Castello Incantado (Enchanted Castle)Filippo Bentivegna (1888-1967)

About the Artist/Site

Filippo Bentivegna (1888-1967) was born in Sciacca on the island of Sicily, the son of a fisherman. Failing to find work in Italy, in 1912 he immigrated to the United States only to return in 1919, disappointed, and apparently somewhat confused by a traumatic experience (generally described as a failed love affair). Upon his return he was convicted for having fled his military duties, but as he was considered mentally unfit, he wasn’t sent to prison. 

With the money he had earned in America, Bentivegna purchased a small plot of land outside of Sciacca, and moved into a small cabin. Trying to clear the rocky terrain around it, he decided to carve the rocks he pulled out. He continued doing so for the rest of his life, carving over a thousand heads and leaving them on site. When asked why he made these sculptures, Bentivegna would answer that he made them for himself, with no intention of selling them. He named many of them, and considered them his subjects, with himself reigning as king. The locals laughed at him and considered him crazy, calling him Filippo di li testi, Filippo of the heads. He also painted the walls of the cabin and carved the trees around the property

After his death, the site was left unattended, although the family would allow visitors to enter after paying a small fee. In 1971, however, an Italian friend of Jean Dubuffet visited the site and purchased some of the works for Dubuffet's collection (now in the Collection d’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland). 

Thanks in part to this visibility, Bentivegna’s work gradually became more appreciated and in 1974 the site was purchased by the Sicilian government. Today the Enchanted Castle is an officially approved Italian art environment and a well known tourist attraction, open every day except Mondays.

~Henk van Es

Materials

rocks

Map & Site Information

Via Mulini
Sciacca, Sicily, 92019 it
Latitude/Longitude: 37.5059047 / 13.0802144

Status

Extant

Address

Via Mulini , Sciacca, Sicily, 92019, it

Built

circa 1919

Visiting Information

The Enchanted Castle is an officially approved Italian art environment and a well known tourist attraction, open every day except Mondays.

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