Casa Rocca Piccola
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Stately homes kept and maintained by heritage organisations are generally very worthy and worthwhile places to visit. But there’s a problem with them! That issue being that at best, what you see is an expert’s best guess at portraying a certain period in that property’s existence.
The best stately homes are those that have been kept within noble families, who have opened them up to help raise funds to maintain these grand houses. And that’s precisely what’s happened at the Casa Rocca Piccola – a genuine bona fide ‘living museum’.
The casa catalogues the evolution of Maltese nobility over four centuries with absolute accuracy better than any conservation expert’s imagination. And we know it’s authentic because throughout that period, this house has been a privately-owned family home. And it still is!
The home’s history can be traced back to the Knights of St John, who decided to build an impressive capital city to rival any other in Europe after defeating the invading Turks in the Great Siege of 1565. The result came to be known as Valletta.
In that city palaces were designed for beauty and prestige ... and those were the key factors in mind when Casa Rocca Piccola was built. It’s first owner was a knight called Cosimo de Piro, who came to Malta in 1530. It is now home to the 9th Marquis de Piro and his family, who opened the house to the public in 1990.
In this home there are more than 50 rooms, and of these there are 12 particularly special examples open for the public to view. They include two dining rooms, (one for the summer and one for the winter), the family chapel and a stunning bedroom with a sumptuous four-poster bed.
Taken together, these rooms provide an insight into what it was like to live in ‘upper-class’ Malta over the decades and centuries.
Under the house you can view the air-raid shelters built during the Second World War. They were created from the network of underground passages and tunnels cut out of the rock throughout the home’s long history.
One of those tunnels leads to a huge cavern that was used during wartime to protect people from the heavy bombing, while another one leads to a small room that was used as a private family shelter.
The walled garden of the Casa Rocca Piccola with its orange trees is another highlight. Here you’ll often find the family cat sunning himself, although in winter, he prefers to cuddle up and has his pick of several priceless sofas! Within the building, there’s also an art gallery, souvenir shop and a restaurant.
The casa is open from 10am to 4pm every day except Sundays and Public Holidays. Admission after hours is also possible by appointment. The prices for the guided tours are €9 for adults and €5 for students. The tours are usually done in English with laminated script translations available in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, and Hungarian.
The other advantage of family-owned stately properties is that if you want an extra special experience then you can splash out and enjoy a Champagne Tour, usually led by the Marquis de Piro. These run on Friday evenings starting at 7pm and your leisurely stroll through the house culminates with a glass or two of Champagne in the beautiful gardens. Booking in advance for these is strongly advised, as places are strictly limited. It costs €25 per person.
Address: 74 Republic Street, Valletta VLT05
Phone: +356 2122 1499
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