The Sicilian town of Taormina, like the rest of Sicily, has changed hands many times over the centuries, the evidence of which can be seen in much of the island’s architecture. In Taormina, one building that captures the town’s history is the Palazzo Corvaja on the Piazza Badia.
The first part of the Palazzo Corvaja was the tower, built in the 10th century by the Arabs who ruled the area at the time. The tower was then part of the city’s fortifications, and the cube-shape was typical of Arab towers built in that era. In the 13th century when the Normans were in charge, they added to the palace, making the tower bigger and building a new wing.
Later, in the early 15th century, the Spanish ruled Sicily - and they added yet another wing to the existing construction at the Palazzo Corvaja. This time, the structure was designed to hold the Sicilian Parliament, formed in 1411. The name of the palace dates from the 16th century, when it became the property of the prominent Corvaja family. They owned the building until 1945.
The Palazzo Corvaja served as an apartment building for low-income families from the early 1900s until after World War II, so it needed extensive renovation work after the war. Today, the building houses the Sicilian Museum of Art and Popular Traditions as well as Taormina’s tourist information office. The latter is in a new section of the building, added in 1960.