Villa Bologna – The Villa
Welcome to Villa Bologna! This is a privately owned 18th century villa in which the successors of the family that built it in 1745 still live in. Private tours of the villa are available on request. This time I’m just going to take you around and tell you a little bit about this Maltese architectural gem.
Villa Bologna is situated in Attard, just a stone throw away from San Anton Garden. This Villa was built by Fabrizio Grech as a wedding present for his daughter. Oh how I wish I would get a villa of this kind as my wedding present too! 🙂
Fabrizio Grech was a noted lawyer and legal advisor to Grand Master Pinto de Fonseca. His critics would say that he might be wealthy but has no class or even a decent family home. To silent them, Mr Grech built for his daughter Maria Theresa Grech and her husband Nicola Perdicomati Bologna, this very fine country house.
In this photo blog I will take you around this gorgeous villa and tell you a bit more about its history. Let’s start at the beginning. At the entrance.
This is the official entrance to the villa and everything about it is just classy. Notice the traditional Maltese door knockers, the iconic feature of the Maltese architecture. Beautifully done steel gate or the door bell that even has ‘visitors’ engraved on it! Also the colour of the door is just on point, but I will get back to this later on.
Even the other side of the main entrance just looks lovely. The blooming bushes remind me of the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty for some reason. I mean, the feel about this place is so nice and we are just getting started…
If you are one of the family visitors this is view the you get once you enter (the general public’s entrance is through their gift shop couple of metres down the road). Isn’t this just magnificent? You are actually looking at Grade 1 National Monument. Villa Bologna was given this Grade 1 protection exactly 10 years ago in 2008 to preserve it for future generations. And what’s so special about this villa after all? Well here is some history and interesting facts.
As already mentioned the villa was built in 1745. It is believed to be one of the best private villas that have survived from the 18th century. It was retained by the family, until towards the end of 19th century when it was inherited by Sir Gerald Strickland. Sir Strickland was a prominent member of the political scene in Malta in the 1920s and 1930s. He was also a Prime Minister for number of years!
As you can guess from the facade, the villa was built in the typical 18th century baroque style. This aesthetically pleasing country house is until today considered as exceptional example of the finest architecture of the period. Notice the open balcony built around the whole facade. This type of balcony is very unique to Malta, however one can notice similar stonework at Selmun Palace in Mellieha.
When you visit the Villa, also look for two small stone lions, which are situated right here by the sides of the main entrance. There is a very interesting story about them! However I’m not going to tell you, I’ll leave it as a little surprise. You’ll be able to read all about in the Villa Bologna’s digital guide you’ll receive at the entrance.
Now let’s stop here for a moment. Right here at the corner of the building. Why? Well let’s look at both sides and compare them. Can you see any difference in architecture? Although the left side of the villa is still baroque in style, you can see that it is much less ornate. It might even feel a bit disjointed. Like each side was designed by a different architect. If you are wondering what is the reason for it, it is possibly due to a shift in building techniques around mid-1700s.
Now let’s talk colours. Apart from the beautiful green everywhere either in a form of a tree, a bush or a plant, which is very refreshing to a mostly dry island, notice the blue colour on the doors and windows. If you are wondering why the owners picked this colour, well the story goes that Cecilia De Trafford, looked at the summer sky and wanted them to be painted a similar colour!
Now, notice these two stone chairs facing the gardens. These limestone chairs are an original part of the house but it is not clear why they are put out here. When you look at the digital guide that you’re given at the entrance, look properly at the photo on the tablet. The chairs in the picture face the house, however they actually face the garden. So I’m wondering if they were moved or what’s the story here.. or am I just going crazy? Really when you visit, compare the picture on the tablet with what you see and let me know!
This part of the house was originally built in 1745, but was later modified with the addition of a new mezzanine to the main building. These additional works resulted in an enlarged dinning room and a creation of a large balcony above the dining room creating more space for entertainment.
This little door caught my attention. It just looks like a secret door to some magical place nicely hidden behind the corner. However as the sign states, it is just a door to the villa’s kitchen.
Here is another small blue door, not as pretty as the previous one, but much more important. This is actually an entrance to the underground shelter! This rock-cut shelter was dug during the hostilities of the Second World War. It is open to the public if you wish to visit it. I’m not sure if you need to request the access as when I was there it was closed.
It is well known that Sir Strickland and his second wife continued to preserve the building as well as renovating and adding to the garden. To top it all, in 1950s a pottery workshop was also set up! This workshop is functioning until today as you can see below. If you wish you can visit the workshop, witness the process of pottery making and even buy some original pieces of pottery made right here! Now how cool is that?
The Villa Bologna shop also offers organic food, fruit, vegetables and other locally produced items. You can even buy local oranges from Villa Bologna gardens! So if you ever need an original gift, that’s still handmade in this mass produced world, you know where to go. 🙂
To finish off let’s summarize. The standard entrance to the gardens, which also gives you a chance to see the villa is 6eur. If you wish to visit the villa inside, it is possible, you only have to arrange a private tour and you got to be a group of 10 people or more. The opening times are Mon – Fri : 9am to 5pm and Sat : 9am to 1pm.