The Palace

The Pompeian Dining Room

Nothing brings a historic house to life better than a lovingly laid dining table in a perfect setting. The glory of Pompeii is the theme for this dining room where the Marquis Scicluna would sit at table among his guests, or for a simple family meal. Because of discoveries made in Pompeii at the time the home was being decorated, anything considered Pompeian was the height of fashion. The room is adorned by Venuti’s delightful paintings: he is reputed to have painted the pick of the local girls of Naxxar, whose descendants are living in the village today. And on one wall, in a reclining position, is the girl who became his wife. Malta has few examples of this romantic calibre in its national collections, so these paintings are especially worthy of attention. Grotesques, putti and trompe-l’œil views add to the dignity of the surroundings. The oil lamps are replicas that were made in Italy after the original lamps were excavated at Pompeii. 

Standing amid the splendour of this room makes it easy for a visitor to imagine the scene of the Marquis and Marchesa at dinner with friends. The cuisine was bountiful, the atmosphere languid and elegant – the kind of aristocratic scene conjured up in Lucchino Visconti’s memorable film The Leopard: the ladies elegantly dressed with beautiful jewellery and the subtle rustle of crinoline skirts, the men also formally attired, some smoking hand rolled cigars (quite possibly, during that era, locally made). Copious courses would have been delivered by servants as the oil lamps flickered and candles cast a diffused light around the table. Under the Pompeian frieze, far from the old kitchens on the floors below, the family and guests enjoyed the finest gastronomy available in Malta.

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