By Martina Tanga

Architect Giovan Battista Filippo Basile was born 8 August 1825 in Palermo. From a modest family, Basile was fortunate to meet his benefactor, the horticulturalist Vincenzo Tineo, who sponsored his education and training to be an architect. He studied at the University of Palermo as well as the University of Rome (La Sapienza) where he took courses with the priest Barnaba Tortolini and architect Angelo Venturoli.

The Teatro Massimo in Palermo was Basile’s most famous architectural project, a whimsical take on neo-classical design. It is the biggest in Italy, and one of the largest of Europe (the third after the Opéra National de Paris and the K. K. Hof-Opernhaus in Vienna). The building was eventually completed by his son Ernesto Basile. Additionally, notable projects by Basile include the Neo-Gothic facade of the Acireale Cathedral; the villino Favaloro in Palermo (1889), also finished by his son Ernesto. Further, Basile designed several gardens such as for Villa Garibaldi and the English Garden in Palermo, Piazza Marina and Villa Vittorio Emanuele in Caltagirone.

Basile is buried in his family’s grave at the Cemetery of the Scrolls in Palermo.

Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele II, opened in 1897, Palermo.

The Façade of the Duomo of Acireale, completed 1889, Palermo. 

Villino Favaloro, 1889, Palermo. 

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