"A House in Sicily"
Casa Cuseni is a villa designed and built by the painter
Robert Hawthorn Kitson in 1905. He had visited the area with his family
as a young man with an artistic disposition and resolved to make his home
here, far from the Victorian rigours and influence of industrial Yorkshire
and his large successful family.
The house and gardens offer a harmonious mixture of art
nouveau and Sicilian styles. Robert Kitson's teacher and friend, Frank
Brangwyn, designed the panelling, table, sideboard and chairs and painted
a mural in the dining room.
When Robert Kitson died in 1948, his niece, Daphne Phelps,
went out to Sicily to sell the house. She fell in love with the place,
the country, the people and decided to stay on and have paying guests.
For the next 50 years Daphne managed and cared for Casa
Cuseni, ably and affectionately assisted by Concetta and Peppino Cundari.
Daphne told the story of her life in Sicily in "A
House in Sicily", which was published by Virago in 1999. "A
House in Sicily" has also been published in the USA, China, Turkey,
Alan Whicker said in his recent television programme
revisiting his wartime journey, that Casa Cuseni was "the one place
that had not changed since the war. Taormina has grown up around the house
but the extraordinary charm of the house and garden remains as potent
Daphne died peacefully at Casa Cuseni on 30th November
2005 - She bequeathed Casa Cuseni to her nephews and nieces who opened
the house and garden to tours by people from all over the world and appointed
an architect to make plans for the restoration of the house and gardens.
Very sadly they were not able to complete their planned
project and had to offer the house for sale.
Happily the Cundari/Spadaro family have found a way to
take on Casa Cuseni for the future - to care for and manage the house
and garden in the form of a museum and a tribute to its history and traditions.
Casa Cuseni - the Future