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The Mandralisca Museum in Cefalù and the mysterious portrait of Antonello da Messina

The famous Portrait of an Unknown Sailor (also called Portrait of a Man), besides being an extraordinary work by Antonello da Messina dating back to the 15th century, is a wonderful puzzle in the history of Cefalù. The enigma is already in the double title: while the people have evoked the fascinating figure of a sailor, with a mocking and sly smile, more than an art historian has identified, thanks to the shape of the clothes, a wealthy man, perhaps a baron.

The work is now housed in the Mandralisca Museum, but his special relationship with Cefalù survives in “Il sorriso dell’ignoto marinaio” (The smile of the unknown sailor) by Vincenzo Consolo, a “thoroughbred” Sicilian writer and great friend of Leonardo Sciascia. In the novel, Antonello da Messina’s masterpiece is only the fulcrum of a story whose protagonist is Baron Mandralisca himself and the scene is the arrival of Garibaldi’s troops in Cefalù, shaken by peasant riots.

Do you want to visit the Mandralisca Museum in Cefalù and discover its culture and millenary charm? Book your holiday in Cefalù and stay overnight at Casa Montalbano, in the heart of the old town!


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