News from the Palace

Citrus season at the Palazzo

Citrus fruit grows abundantly at this time of year. Oranges of all kinds, tangerines and lemons fill local market stalls and hang off the backs of vegetable trucks. 

Malta’s citrus industry dates back as far as 870, when Malta was under Arab rule, and later, during the reign of The Knights of St John, Malta became particularly renowned for the superior quality of its citrus fruits which were exported to other European countries. 

The orangery at Palazzo Parisio was built in 1733 by the Portuguese Grand Master Manuel de Vilhena. It originally housed oranges and lemons grown for the house, though today the half-mile garden is home to lush ferns, lilies, a number of varieties of bougainvillea and roses among others.

The Baroness is a keen gardener herself and is always on the lookout for interesting species for the garden. She has enriched the citrus side of the garden with a number of collectors’ items, under the advice of Laura Vigliansi of Sun Island Nursery. Aside from the common oranges, lemons, grapefruits and tangerines you’ll find growing in the gardens, these are some of the lesser known varieties in which we take great pride. 

Seville oranges

Also known as bitter oranges, they aren’t meant for eating fresh as their flesh is bitter. However, their high pectin content make them an ideal candidate for preserves and are generally used to make orange marmalade. Paddington Bear’s favourite sandwich filler goes back to the 1700s, when a damaged ship from Spain sailed into Dundee harbour in Scotland. The cargo of Seville oranges was sold cheaply to merchant James Keiller, whose wife turned it into a preserve and created England’s favourite breakfast food. Look our for the Baroness’ homemade marmalade available at La Boutique while stocks last

The finger lime

Known as caviar limes, these small oblong fruits are filled with tiny vesicles (also known as pears) of juice that look similar to caviar. They have become popular in gourmet cuisine because of their appearance as well as the burst of effervescent tangy flavour as they are chewed. 

The Sweet Citron

Known as cedro in Italian, these giant lemons are grown on the Amalfi coast, and are sometimes spotted in France and Israel. Around four times the length of an ordinary lemon, their surface is pebbly and they have a large amount of sweet pith. They are completely edible, including the peel and pith. They are best, sliced and tossed in olive oil and salt, or used in salads. The rind is used to make candied fruit and is used in panettone and other Italian celebration cakes. 

The Pomelo

The pomelo is known as the grandfather of citrus fruit. Native to south and southeast Asia, it is one of the first known varieties of citrus that was later hybridized into the more common citrus fruits we know today such as the orange, lemon and grapefruit. It is used in many Chinese festivals and is used as an ingredient in Thai salads. 

The Kumqat

The kumqat, sometimes called a Chinese orange, is an edible fruit that closely resembles an orange though is much smaller in size, more or less the size of an olive. Contrary to most citrus fruit, the skin and zest are sweet, while the juicy insides are tart with a hint of bitterness. They can be eaten whole, poached in syrup and served with ice cream, made into compotes or jams or are a popular stuffing for poultry. 

The horned bitter orange

This is an ancient variety seen in some of those old Italian citrus paintings from around Leonardo Da Vinci's time. Known as canaliculata the bitter orange is not the best for eating but the wrinkled skin sure makes it a pretty decoration in any garden. 


The gardens are open to the public everyday from 9am till 6pm. 

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