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The End of Castello Della Cerimonie

If you’ve ever sat through a good hour of Italian cable TV, chances are you’ve probably seen the popular series “Castello Delle Cerimonie”. A show based in Naples, Italy, Castello Delle Cerimonie is a long-running Italian series all about a party-planning family and, you guessed it, the parties they plan! The show’s name directly translates to “Castle of Ceremonies” and the series is widely appreciated as a good-natured staple in Italian reality television. However, as of late the show and its cast have landed in hot water with Neapolitan authorities over the “Castle” at the forefront of the show— in order to understand what’s gone on, the lore behind Castello Delle Cerimonie must be explained.

The show’s premise of party planning revolves around an estate by the name of La Sonrisa, a sprawling villa decked out with all manner of shiny and elaborate decor (fountains, helipads, and even a congress!). A very impressive location of almost 40,000 square metres, once you see it it’s more than understandable why many would shell out thousands to host parties there. La Sonrisa is owned by the Polese family in Naples and has remained in their family until now. The Polese family ran a business of organising parties at La Sonrisa for clients and it was this practice that birthed the hit series Castello Delle Cerimonie.

One of the many dining halls of La Sonrisa

Some snapshots of previous events held at La Sonrisa; of course, not just weddings are held there but also baptisms, first communions, and birthday parties to name a few. 

The TV series massively boosted La Sonrisa’s popularity as a party locale and has seriously contributed to the stereotype in Italian culture of Neapolitan weddings being overly showy and gaudy displays. In fact, the show’s years of airtime have created an archive of sorts for all the most extreme wedding affairs, from one couple who had a cigar station to another event where the bride’s rideover was an 18-tonne truck. Importantly, La Sonrisa is also a hotel and operates year-round for tourists to shack up at as they visit Naples— specifically the province of Campania.

Since 2011, a legal case has been building up against the Polese family over La Sonrisa allegedly having been built illegally and violating multiple construction codes. Back in 2016 the wife and brother of the late patriarch of the Polese family were sentenced to jail but the court order was only confirmed in 2024 by the Supreme Court. However, the Polese family haven’t taken this news sitting and have spoken of plans to appeal the decision to the Court of Strasbourg in France as they claim the judges there should hopefully be more impartial.

Subsequently, the property has been seized by authorities in Naples although it is unclear what they will do with it, it being unlikely that they’ll continue the party-planning business. As a result of the seizure, 300 workers who had been employed by the business staged a walkout against the municipality for seizing the property and putting their livelihoods at risk, but the mayor has promised to appease workers and reach some sort of solution to the end of their jobs.

A hard and fast fall for one of Italy’s most quintessential television shows, what will be of Castello Delle Cerimonie may only be a question of time, although I’d bet good money that most Italians hope dearly for its return (as do I).

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