The old town of Valetta used to be the home to many rich people. Today most of the affluent people have left the city to go and live outside the walls. But there is a few old palaces stilled lived in. one of those places are the Casa Rocca Piccola where the 9th Marquis de Piro still live in the house.
We had passed the small museum the day before and decided we would try to drop by for a guided visit on one of the hourly tours of the house. We get inside and there are a lot of people already gathered inside the courtyard of the house where an ara parrot sit and enjoy the sunshine – apparently the parrot is friendly as long as you don’t tease it. There are so many guests for the hourly tour they decide to make two groups and we get in a group with a new female guide who is pretty new at the job and seems to be very passionate about the different knickknack on display in the house – some of her story telling is interesting and some not so much.
We start the visit by going underground. During World War II the city was under repeated air raids by the Italian and German air force. So the marquis converted an old cistern into an air raid shelter which apparently could house the family and a lot of the neighbors. The total capacity of the shelter was about 130 people. The underground was actually pretty interesting. We had to go into the shelter through a twisted passageway. At first it was a bit strange with all the turns – but the reason was simple – the twisted design of the hallway was made to prevent shrapnel to hit the people taking refuge in the shelter.
Above the ground you find the house which was built in 1580 only 14 years after the city was founded. So the story of the house almost matches the story of the city of Valetta. The former owner of the house made his through international trade and also had a part in the ruling of the island as one of the Knights Hospitallar.
The house has a selection of rooms which are stilled lived in by the family. So the furnishing is a bit of a mix between really old stuff and some things which are more contemporary. Especially in the library it is a fun mix of ancient books and newer books which you could by in a book store today.
I found the dining room was the most impressive of the rooms. But there was another room which apparently had some chairs given to the family when they attended the coronation of Elisabeth II. I guess those fairly humble stools are prices possession of the family today.
The last room we went into was the chapel – which any family with a high ranking in the knight’s order apparently had to have on the island.
You can visit on an hourly tour for 9€ as adult and a discounted 5€ for students. The house is located on the main street of Valetta and if you just keep walking down the street from when you cross the bridge to the old town you will find the house on the right side of the street.