Il Castello Incantato – Sciacca, Italy - Atlas Obscura

In 1929, Filippo Bentivegna left the United States after only 7 years and was a changed man. According to some, he had been assaulted and sustained brain damage. Others claimed his mind had begun to unravel after a woman broke his heart. Although the details are unclear, when he returned to his hometown of Sciacca in Sicily, he began a massive sculpture garden and was considered the village madman.

Having skipped out on military service under Mussolini to live in America, a prison sentence greeted Bentivegna when he returned to Italy. Luckily, or unluckily, he was declared too insane to serve his sentence, and instead bought a small plot of land on the outskirts of Sciacca. Living alone, he built a small cabin and began to develop the rocky land he had purchased.

Since there was little else he could do with his lot, he began to carve heads from the rocky outcroppings on his property. Resembling people he had met in America and in Italy, he spent the next 35 years sculpting until his garden had reached a total of more than 1,000 heads. During his life, his work was never appreciated, and his eccentric behavior earned him the title of village madman.

After his death in 1967, his family made his works a tourist site, where people began to come from all around Sicily to see the carvings, and a series of simplistic frescoes Bentivegna did inside his cabin. Renamed the Enchanted Castle, the under-appreciated works of this madman are now a major draw for visitors in Southern Sicily.

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