The Palazzo was the crowning achievement in the careers of the Peruzzi brothers: acclaimed architect, Eduardo Joseph, and his older brother, Carlo Benedetto Peruzzi, The Mafiosi Don. They combined their talents and earned a fortune in their construction and development enterprises throughout the City of New York.
As the years flew by, their Mafiosi army and their land holdings increased. The brothers bought very substantial amounts of vacant land on Staten Island many years before The Verrazano Narrows Bridge was even a thought. With only a ferry to link Staten Island to New York City, land prices were the best bargain since the Dutch bought Manhattan from The Indians for $24.00.
Throughout the period after WWI, Carlo and a Eduardo bought thousands of acres on Staten Island, including their own private mountain.
Only their Mafiosi families were permitted to live on this private mountain behind the protection of natural barriers and, of course, armed guards at the gate.
The entire private mountain city had only one-way in or out, from the bottom. A winding narrow lane wound its way up like a corkscrew with homes built on either side. Positions of power were reflected in the sizes and luxury of the homes. The smaller simpler homes of those lower ranked members had been built at the bottom of the mountain.
As one travelled up the private drive, sizes of homes and land increased. They became more luxurious in accord with the relative rank and position of its owners. The Four Capos or Captains of the four points of the compass lived up on the plateau in manses befitting their status; adjacent to The Don’s Palazzo.
The Palazzo itself had two sections with two distinct purposes. The front section of the magnificent mansion housed the private residence of The Peruzzi family. The rest of the ten-acre estate was utilized as a home base for its Mafiosi operations.
Carlo, Eduardo, and their loyal bodyguards entered under the high covered portico through grand double solid oak doors inlaid with stained glass into a grand foyer. Crystal blue water cascaded down a two-tiered fountain into a round shallow koi pond. Marble floors and a twin sweeping marble staircase led upstairs to the private family bedroom suites.
Eduardo and Carlo had planned the entire Mountain City years ago as a dream they shared for the future of their families and the families of their countrymen. Their parents had joined with other like-minded, freedom seeking Sicilians who shared a common dream to start their new lives in America.
Inspired by a baronial village and its Don’s Palazzo from a childhood trip to Sicily with their grandfather, what really hit home for the young brothers was the respect of serious men, and how they treated one another, worked together and lived a clustered life away from the dangers and misfortunes of the corrupted mainland overwrought by crime.
That successful model instilled in them hopes and dreams and a plan to create a good life ahead here in New York. This mountain and the far-reaching business accomplishments were the living fruition of their life-long dream to become barons here in America.
The private residence included a huge den, a dining room, a study, a pantry, and a kitchen that led to a five car attached garage with one extra deep bay. The 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood Presidential Limousine parked there might have actually belonged to a President of the US.
The second part of The Palazzo, for visitors, entered from the back on the South and East sides of the mountaintop 10-acre estate. A 30-car parking lot for guests was hidden around the side of The Palazzo by a wooded acre, flanked by alternate patches of woods and landscaped shrubbery, lawns and flower gardens.
A sheer vertical cliff several hundred feet high provided a natural fortress with the only entrance or egress to their mountain needing protection at the base. And armed guards patrolled that. No other way in or out.
A professional landscaper lived in one of the Family homes and provided his service in tribute to The Don. The same was true for his chefs and tailors and even his bodyguards, as well as most families on the mountain: each successful professionals in their respective fields. All were grateful and loyal to their leaders and protectors.
They were their own governing body and The Don was their President. Two full generations of immigrants had prospered together. Now, in the 1960’s, many of the eldest children of the third generation were entering the work force into their family business or one of the other family businesses.
Some kids apprenticed with their father and some with another Mafiosi family. If a child wanted to be a plumber, but his Dad was a baker, they might swap kids for summer jobs within their tight closed knit community. They would accept each other’s teenage kids into an apprentice system. Many teens worked in The Palazzo.
Teens could try various work on summer breaks each year to decide what they wanted to do to make their living and serve the Mafiosi community. One summer a teenage girl might apprentice with a chef while her brother might work construction. The one constant was The Family children were only permitted to work within their own Mafiosi circle. As younger children they were educated in private religious schools. Kids wore uniforms and had nuns, brothers and priests as educators. They attended mass in school and worshipped God every day by prayer and deed. Another hard working, god-fearing generation in training.
Don Carlo Peruzzi, and his younger brother, the late Eduardo Joseph Peruzzi, had achieved their dream of their baronial nation, living and working toward their common cause providing a good, safe, prosperous life to raise their children.
They all shared the common desire every man wants for his own family and these good people desired it for their fellow man as well. With good will in their hearts and hard work in their skilled hands, this group of first generation Sicilian immigrants lived together in their armed-guard, protected mountain enclave of various sized custom built new homes.
Their families enjoyed the fruits of their labors and fellowship with their neighbors. Together they worshipped their Spiritual tribute to God at The Roman Catholic Church. Worldly tributes of appreciation, and respect were afforded Don Carlo Peruzzi.
They provided him their professional and trade services free of charge out of respect and gratitude, always eager to pay back in some small but meaningful way for the opportunity he had provided them and most importantly, for their wives and kids.
Family was the core nucleus that held it all together, as that had been the case for generations in their beautiful native Sicily.