Villa Bologna – The Garden
Villa Bologna and its gardens are located in close proximity of San Anton Gardens in Attard. This beautiful private villa (still lived in) and gorgeous gardens are open to public for a small fee.
I spent good two hours walking around with my little one. Yes, let’s start with the fact that it is pram friendly. Being alone I struggled with couple of steps, but nothing I wouldn’t manage. You enter the garden through their shop located couple of meters down the road from the main private entrance. Once you walk through, this is what you see. Beautiful stone pergolas.
These stone pergolas are quite typical for early Baroque gardens in Malta. This architectural element was used for aesthetic purposes as well as shade. It also provides plenty of opportunities to sit down and enjoy the garden.
Orange trees grow very well in Malta. Villa Bologna has around 300 citrus trees planted within its gardens. Every year they harvest around one and half tons of fruit! If you want you can even buy these oranges at their own store. And because they don’t use any hash chemicals, not only you can get a local produce here, but also pesticides free!
And what’s this tower that might remind you one of the watchtowers from the Maltese shores? Well, this is actually a water tower. Even though it’s not in use any more, the top floor was once a reservoir. It would pump water up through a windmill and then around the garden.
The Villa Bologna gardens are pretty large and there is a lot one can learn. To make this experience more friendly, once you pay the entrance fee you receive a map and a tablet. The map will help you with the orientation around the garden. The tablet will provide a lot of useful information in a very pleasant and user friendly way.
Following the path, your next stop will be this cactus garden. Believe it or not this part of the garden was laid out way back in the 1920s by Lady Strickland. Let me quickly mention that Lady Strickland was a second wife of Sir Gerald Strickland who inherited Villa Bologna in 1890s.
This small cactus garden is actually a leading example of local cactus garden with some very rare specimens, such as the very tall cactus on the right. It is known as ‘old mans beard’ and it is native to eastern Mexico. It is the largest example of its kind in Malta!
This avenue with metal arches that were once covered with English roses leads to the Round Pond. This pond was badly damaged after a palm tree seeded itself right in the middle. However it has been recently restored and this part of the garden got its former glory back.
Now passing by the backside of Villa Bologna. This is where you can find restrooms if you may need them. Next stop is the Dolphin Fountain. The fountain is named after the dolphin fish that you can see on top of the fountain’s pergola. You can also notice two coats of arms. The one on this side features clawed wings that relates to the Bolognas family. The second one on the other side that belongs to the Strickland family features shells.
Also notice the fine laws around the fountain. It is not easy to keep laws this green in Malta’s hot climate. What’s also worth mentioning are the trees, which you can see on the picture below on the right. They ate actually the oldest and largest examples of Lagunaria Patasonii in Malta.
My next stop is the Sunken Pond. As there are quite a few steps, I left Oliver in the pram just down here and went to explore this part of the garden myself. I think I was the only one enjoying the garden at that time. Piece and quiet. Ideal for a sleeping baby and for his mama to recharge her batteries.
And here I am, this is the Sunken Pond. This intimate part of the garden was yet again landscaped by Lady Strickland herself. There are several beautiful features worth noticing including these ornate stone benches.
Throughout my visit I was accompanied by one of the two doggies. He is posing for me in the picture below with Villa Bologna offering a beautiful backdrop.
The last part of the garden that remains to explore is the Baroque Garden. This ‘old garden’ was built alongside the house in 18th century. The main highlight of this part of the garden is definitely the Large Nympheum. I’m sure you will agree with me if I say that this is arguably one of the most impressive baroque fountains on the island. You can spot a similar style fountain in San Anton Gardens, which are located just stone’s throw away from Villa Bologna.
Notice the two empty domes in the nympheum. They once hosted the statues of Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, wine-making and grape harvest and Pan, the Greek god of wold (forest), shepards and flocks. Unfortunately they fall into the fountain few years ago and got badly damaged. They are currently waiting to be restored.
Coming to the end of this photo blog, it’s time to summarize. The entrance fee to the Villa Bologna garden is 6eur and you can spend as much time as you like. You will be equipped with a map and tablet for better orientation and guidance. The entrance is couple of metres down the main gate through their shop. The standard opening hours are Mon – Fri : 9am to 5pm and Sat : 9am to 1pm. For more information you can always visit Villa Bologna’s website. My next blog will be dedicated to the villa itself and the pottery tradition.