Palazzo Castro-Polara Grimaldi, with its unique position on the top of Modica, has a history that dates back to the 17th century. Immediately after the earthquake of 1693 (which destroyed most of the inhabited centers of Val di Noto), the Castro, barons and important landowners of south eastern Sicily, built their own castle. The structure resembled that of a town-villa, developed on three floors and surrounded by a vast garden and the stables.
In 1890, Francesco Castro, sole heir to the family fortune, married the young Donna Grazietta Grimaldi, from one of the most illustrious family of Modica, descendant from a secondary branch of the family of Prince Grimaldi of Monaco. After the marriage, cavaliere Francesco Castro and his wife decided to change the villa considerably, enlarging and decorating it in the liberty style that is still preserved today. The restoration and modern décor were completed in 1903, which is the date that appears at the entrance, on the first floor. In 1917, cavaliere Francesco Castro died and left his wife Grazietta without heirs. Grazietta dedicated her life to her studies, faith and charity. Her benevolence contributed to support various religious men, seminarists and young secular men from Modica in their studies. Since Donna Grazietta Grimaldi was the last descendent of the noble Grimaldi di Calamezzana family, when she died in 1960 the villa was inherited by her nephew, the lawyer Raffaele Tommasi Rosso who lived there until he died and preserved most part of the original and precious furniture, porcelain collections and cutlery. The villa is still the property of Raffaele Tommasi Rosso’s direct descendents, who keep the family’s memory and style alive.
Modica since 2002 is part of UNESCO Heritage Sites in Italy for its unique Baroque architecture. The writer and poet Lionello Fiumi from Verona described Modica in the 60s in a newspaper with these words: “Modica is an unexpected beauty… It creates a bizarre, unique effect, as if it were a dream, an immense and imaginary building from a fairy-tale, made of various houses instead of different floors. Above these buildings that stand one on top of another, dart belfries upon belfries.”