Other Peoples Homes – Casa Rocca Piccola, Valleta, Malta

Of course, I place my palms up. I admit it. I have an insatiable hunger for seeking into other peoples residences.

No. I am not a “Peeping Tom”. When I seemed up the definition of “Peeping Tom” in my Collins Concise Dictionary and Thesaurus I am explained to that Peeping Tom is a person who furtively observes women of all ages undressing. That is definitely not me. But, sure, I do confess to glancing furtively sideways when out walking to see how a lot I can see through any home windows not shrouded with window nets. I choose to imagine I am inquisitive, getting a pure curiosity to obtain out what places the soul into a household… what, conjures up people today and what treasures (or sometimes not) are hidden driving the entrance doorway.

Luckily I can, legitimately, indulge my curiosity, due to the fact there are so several beautiful residences and gardens open to the community to stop by both in this state and overseas.

On a new summer season trip to Gozo with my spouse we resolved to get the ferry again to Malta and drive into Valetta. There I uncovered the Casa Rocca Piccola, at 74 Republic Street, the 16th century home of a Maltese nobleman. It is now the household of the 9th Marquis de Piro and his household. Frances, the Marchioness is English and it is her who greets you as you wander by way of the entrance doorway. The history of Casa Rocca Piccola goes back over 400 several years to an period in which the Knights of St. John, getting efficiently fought off the invading Turks in 1565, made a decision to create on their own a prestigious city to rival European capitals. The residence is named after the initial proprietor, Don Pietro La Rocca, Admiral of the Order of St. John in the Langue of Italy. It was, in later years, permit to a succession of Italian aristocratic knights and bought to a Maltese nobleman in the second half of the 18th century.

Casa Rocca Piccola is not a museum: it is, in a perception, more than that. It is a residing relic of a earlier way of daily life burdened with the pretension and aspirations of Maltese lineage. There are several things of memorabilia to be viewed, not only for their inventive merit, but also because they contribute truth to the total scene.

Climbing the ornate marble staircase you will see, dominating the top landing a carved wood de Piro coat of arms. This was the previous operate of the Maltese artist Edward Pirotta. Hanging above is an enormously intricate chandelier from Bohemia. The initial space to be frequented on your tour is the Chapel in which the partitions are painted to simulate damask. There are two crosses on the alter: an ivory crucifix that was granted two hundred times indulgence by Cardinal Godfrey in 1960. The second cross houses a particle of the Legitimate Cross at the rear of a tiny purple curtain. Its authenticity is confirmed by no much less than 7 Vatican seals on the reverse. As was the circumstance with most European noble people it was the customized for the more youthful son to become a priest and for that cause in distinct, quite a few patrician households ended up supplied the privilege of preserving a chapel in the house. The Marquis’s grandfather represented George VI and his medals are kept listed here collectively with an exquisite pair of footwear known as Papal buskins and a pair of silver filigree earrings, a current from the Bishop of Gozo to Nicolina de Piro after her husband donated land to establish the popular Ta’Pinu church in Gozo.
On up coming to the Environmentally friendly Space exactly where the partitions are in fact environmentally friendly! Listed here there is a superb marquetry bookcase that primarily caught my eye. Made in about 1640 in the course of the reign of the French Provencal Grand Learn Lascaris it bears his arms on the doorway. The panels are inlayed within and outside. A fascinating operate of artwork. I was informed that the veneer was a mix of olive and orange wood. There are several portraits hung on the partitions and proudly placed is a photograph of the 8th Baron and Baroness who attended the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953. Transferring on to the 4- Poster bed room, the only space in the dwelling not in use, the mattress is a showpiece reputed to be excellent-grandmother Orsola’s matrimonial bed. Married in 1867 she manufactured 9 children: 7 boys and 2 girls. They all survived childhood and so the mattress is thought of blessed!

The upcoming space is the Porphyr Place so identified as mainly because the walls ended up at just one time painted to imitate porphyry marble then the Blue Place or petit salon with modern-day images collected by the loved ones. Amongst them works by Annigoni, The Rathmells, Rowley-Wise and Durer. The design of the Dining Space that the moment had an open up terrace overlooking the little backyard garden contrasts with the relaxation of the dwelling and is regarded as a “folly”. Created by the present-day family’s Grandfather in 1918 its white pillars and light-weight element certainly make it very unique to the rest of the house. It provides the perception of remaining a conservatory simply because of its lightness and airiness.A trompe l’oeil of a Spanish lady enjoying a harp on a black and white tiled floor produces an exaggerated viewpoint that gives the perception that the place is more time. The last space is the Carriage Place that was after a secure for a mule but, likely back, maybe my favorite place is the Library. Right here I uncovered what can only be explained as the most fantastic piece of home furniture imaginable. A transportable chapel. When shut it appears for all the world like a big black lacquered bureau nevertheless, it opens up to develop into a completely functioning chapel with it personal tabernacle, relics and the Way of the Cross. It is richly embellished with shots of exotic birds and flora and panels depicting St. Francis Zavier in Japan and Goa. The notion was that you could have a Chapel in any space of your property and then it could be shut up to search like a secular piece of furniture. An absolutely breathtaking piece.

A person of the treasures of the dwelling I need to not fail to remember to mention however is a golden sedan chair manufactured for the Knight of Malta, Fra Victor Nicolas de Vachon Belmont reputed to be a passionate figure who led his males personally, oh, and lastly “April” the spouse and children tortoise to be found in the little yard. Curiously Casa Rocca Piccola was a single of the few homes at the time of the knights to be authorized a yard. It was a great privilege for its house owners as h2o was scarce and gardens were technically forbidden.

So, if you ever discover on your own strolling down Republic Avenue in Valletta, Casa Rocca Piccola gives you a unusual option to see within just one of the final non-public unconverted Valletta palaces however lived in these days. It will come remarkably proposed to any one like myself, with a curiosity and inquisitive hunger to see inside of other peoples households.

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