A JEWEL OF A PALAZZO BEHIND A SIMPLE LIMESTONE FACADE
Strolling by the quintessentially Maltese limestone facades of Naxxar, it’s hard to believe the baroque masterpiece inside. But step through our large bronze studded door and our soaring vaulted ceiling rises above frescoed walls above a cool stone floor in the Grand Hall. To the left, a sweeping marble staircase rises towards the moulded ceilings of the upper storeys and sparkling chandeliers. Spectacularly restored, the Palazzo’s interior is a triumph of the art of the craftsman – all hewn, carved, gilded, turned and smoothed to perfection.
The success of architecture and interiors depends not only on the materials but also on the people who live in them and thus shape the spirit of the monument. There is hardly a building that delights more than Palazzo Parisio in Malta. This magnificent 18th century palace whispers the secrets of the Grandmaster of the Order of the Knights of St. John. It shows vision and love for design of the wealthy Maltese banker and merchant Marquis Giuseppe Scicluna who bought the palace in 1898, renovated it and had it redesigned in all its splendour
THE ENTRANCE HALL & SCICLUNA CARRIAGE
A bronze bust of the Marquis and four marble statues personifying the seasons welcome every guest to the Palazzo. Inside the hall you’ll see the original Marquis’ carriage, perfectly preserved 19th-century transportation. Portraits of his descendants, Maria Violet Testaferrata Moroni Viani Scicluna, 7th Baroness of Tabria and Corinne Ramsay Scicluna, 8th Baroness of Tabria by Maltese artist, Edward Caruana Dingli honour his love of family and determination to celebrate local talent.
THE GRAND STAIRCASE & LANDING
Conceived on an epic scale, with handsomely carved balusters and fluted piers (squared columns), our grand staircase is spectacular. A craftsperson would notice that the balustrade is cast from a single piece of Italian Carrara marble, six meters long, while the eagle-eyed visitor might spot that one of our imposing carved doors is actually stone, painted in trompe-l’oeil style as mahogany to mirror the real door beside it. Historic armour lines the hallway at the top of the staircase.
In dazzling Rococo style, our ballroom is gilded and spectacularly lit by sparkling bronze chandeliers. With its extraordinary gilded opulence, it is unique in Malta and confirms both the elegance and the status of the Marquis and his family as they created the Palazzo. Gilt-edged mirrors create infinity reflections – an homage to Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors. Legendary architect Carlo Sada’s sumptuous design, from the intricate symbolism of the ceiling to the eight busts of grand masters surveying the scene below, celebrates opulent glamour.
THE BILLIARD ROOM
Once the place where gentlemen would withdraw after dinner to talk politics and win or lose fortunes on games of chance, this room lives on as a shrine to conversation and, of course, billiards. Giacomo Olzai’s beautifully hand-painted stucco ceiling depicts Fortuna, goddess of good luck, looking approvingly down towards the handsome eight-legged billiard table which is whimsically lit by floating bronze cherubs.
“Make the future better by making the most out of the past.”
JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE
THE MUSIC ROOM
Adjoining the great ballroom, our Rococo Music Room was originally a private salon for ladies taking a moment away from a ball or, on a regular evening, conversing and performing their pieces around the piano. Now, as then, one’s eyes can rest upon walls lined in pale silk moiré and furniture created specifically to capture the musical mood of the room, decorated in 24 carat gold leaf.
THE MARQUIS’ STUDY
In the Marquis’ study it pays to look up – the ceiling tells a tale in cherubic myth and fantasy of the arrival of the telephone, the opening of the Suez Canal and the establishment of banking. Ornate oval portraits capture both the Marquis and his wife, Marchesa Corinna Abela Pulis, whose humanitarian work during the first world war earned her international recognition, including being the first Maltese woman to be awarded an OBE.
THE SALA LOMBARDA
The Sala Lombarda or Red Drawing Room, is decorated in the northern Italian Lombard style. The paintings here represent the traditional taste of decoration demanded by a Maltese family in a drawing room of the period from the 18th to the late-19th centuries. Arte Sacra and saints were popular images throughout the era, along with striking family portraits and large mythological canvases. Artists include Philipp Peter Roos (1657-1706), Giovanni Paolo Panini and Mattia Preti. The artwork and furniture are both unusual for Malta but admirable for the purpose of this elegant room.
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. Malta has few examples of this romantic calibre in its national collections, so these paintings are especially worthy of attention.
THE MARQUIS'S BEDROOM
In Victorian times there was often a strong religious accent to the decoration of a bedroom. This room is no exception. Here you can admire a ceiling painting of the Madonna by the artist Filippo Venuti, personally commissioned by the Marchesa Corinna. Surrounding the ceiling, adding a further feminine touch, is a delightful frieze with representations of small birds and figures, while the bed itself is typical of the Victorian era. Adjoining is what is known today as the Bridal suite where you can admire one of the family’s wedding dresses.
THE FAMILY CHAPEL
It was rare for a family to be granted the privilege of establishing a private chapel in their home, which makes this delightful example of this one, extra special. The most significant contents of the chapel came into the house through an inheritance from the Marchesa’s family. The 17th century wooden altar, originally owned by the Spanish Grand Master Nicolas Cotoner is one of the finest items in the house. Facing the Chapel's altar is a pair of ebony prie-dieu desks richly inlaid with ivory and with them a pair of equally distinctive matching chairs, made in Italy.