casaDuring a recent visit to Malta, I visited the Casa Rocca Piccola in Valletta. It’s a sixteenth-century palace privately owned by the family of the Marquis de Piro, who still live there and have turned the public rooms into a museum. You can only visit it with a guided tour, but as our guide was the marquis himself, and the tour was both charming and fascinating, I for one didn’t mind!

The house itself is just beautiful, situated on Republic Street. There is a little shop and a restaurant. The guided tour takes you to the upper floor and a suite of pretty rooms that are furnished in a wild mixture of antiques, family mementoes and downright kitsch. I could have spent half an hour in each room just looking at every treasure big and small. Alas, the tour ‘only’ takes little more than an hour, and so our guide restricted himself to telling us about Maltese history and customs interspersed with family anecdotes. I especially loved the stories he told us about his parents, who married in the 1930s, lived through WWII and the second Siege of Malta, and attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

The last part of the tour took us to the lovely courtyard and to the bomb shelters that were built (and used!) during the Second World War. (I have since read The Brass Dolphin by Caroline Harvey and know a bit more now about what conditions were like then on Malta.)

At the end of the tour, the marquis asked us to recommend a visit to the Casa Rocca Piccola to our friends. This is what I am doing herewith, and also recommend taking a look at the utterly beautiful website devoted to this remarkable museum. And by the way … the whole archipelago of Malta is worth a visit any day!

– Rike Horstmann