Palazzo Donato was completed by one of the local wealthy families around 1849, as proven by the date on the staircase leading to the first floor.
The complex features a courtyard design, with a floor below ground and two floors above ground. As in all elegant buildings, the lower floors housed the storerooms, used to hold wheat and other foodstuffs, while the first floor housed the actual residence. On the basement, from Via Coriolano, in an area now home to the Museum of Words, one can admire an oil press with its original pieces: the oil collection tank, the fired-brick flue, the actual presses, and the industrialisation system from the early 20th century.
Entrance to the building is through the courtyard, a distinctive element of the whole building with a rather simple exterior, a monumental portal in Valsinni stone with spirals at the bottom and the family’s coat of arms in the keystone topped by a decoration with plant motifs. The original main wooden door features imaginary animal gargoyles with a strong apotropaic value.
The courtyard features an 18th-century stone staircase leading to the first floor of the building. On the first floor, there are round arches standing on moulded pillars with pilasters holding the cornice, beyond which is a terrace. The order, not according to a perfect neoclassical style, still shows the interest for special architectural creations that are able to show the family’s wealth. Also the windows overlooking the courtyard show a refined style, as in the case of the slight curve at the top and the moulded windowsills. There is a cornice running along the other three perimeter walls and, lastly, a fascia connects the windowsills, marking the two floors.
The interior features the typical sequence of 19th-century buildings: rooms connected in series, although over the years a corridor was built in the north-west wing, making the area more functional and in line with the needs of a changing society. At the end of the corridor, there is a small arched niche, probably intended for a statue of a saint worshipped by the family, some members of whom were in the clergy. A relic with ex contactu fragments of fabrics of Our Lady and St Joseph, sent from Rome on 5 May 1791, belonged to one of them. The small study still has the 19th-century bookcases along its walls. After it there is the “Sala Grande”, the Large Room, which owed its name to its larger size compared to the other ones, both in terms of floorplan and elevation. This is where the important family functions were held. On the left of the entrance, there was a living room leading onto a bedroom. The very intricate iron banisters, showcasing the fine skill of Fardella’s blacksmiths, renowned and highly valued in the whole area, are noteworthy.
The building is currently protected by law 1089 of 1939 as a Grade I listed building and has been renovated following the 1981 earthquake.