Heritage Malta registers as objector to proposed development in Giardino Zamittello

Heritage Malta, as the national agency of the Government of Malta for cultural heritage, and as the official holder of the title of the property of Villa Frere, has formally requested to be registered as objector to the development application PA/00698/19 since this proposal would ultimately mean the destruction of the magnificent and important historic garden known as Giardino Zamittello. Such development would also inevitably lead to the crippling of the historic Villa Frere.

Surviving Grades I and II listed extents of Villa Frere (in yellow) and the Zamittello garden excluding the dwellings (in red)

The upgrading of the scheduling of Villa Frere as a Grade 1 heritage monument and the scheduling of Giardino Zamittello, together with an adequate buffer zone to protect its context, was also officially requested by Heritage Malta.

Giardino Zamittello is a highly formal garden consisting of a series of walled enclosures originating in the mid-late 18th century, with further embellishment during the very early 1800s in the High Baroque, Neo-Classical idiom. It also includes a tower that was most probably used by the Maltese insurgents during the French blockade. Documentary evidence shows that the house and its garden belonged to renowned auditor Giuseppe Nicolo Zamitt sive Zamittello, who also owned Palazzo Zamittello on Strada Reale, Valletta, just across from the Royal Opera House, as well as the iconic Castello Zamittello in Mġarr, Malta.

An 1859 photograph showing the Zamittello garden as seen from one of the lower belvederes of Villa Frere.

Zamittello was an acclaimed Maltese legislator and man of letters, having a career that spanned the end of the Order of St John’s rule, the Napoleonic occupation, to the start of the British colonial government of Malta. He was among the first recipients of knighthood when the Order of St. Michael and St. George was instituted. Reportedly, he is the only Maltese to be interred in the chapel of the Langue of Auvergne in St John’s Co-Cathedral, after his demise on 7th September 1823.

Pietà is best known for its patrician houses and gardens with the likes of Villa Guardamangia, Casa Guardamangia, Villa Medina and Villa Zammit. Villa Frere and Giardino Zamittello are special in that they offer a symbiosis in how they embrace the raking topography of the ancient Qrejten (Pietá). Apart from its intrinsic historic significance, Villa Frere is also important for the history of the Maltese language since Mikiel Anton Vassalli spent a long time in the property discussing with Frere how to establish Maltese as a written and taught language.


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