Thursday, September 27, 2007

Palazzo Falson

In the city of Mdina, in 1233, the building that is now known as Palazzo Falson was first built. The diplomatic spouses group had a tour of the building that focused mainly on the building's restoration and the amazing collections of the building's past private occupant, a Maltese guy named Falson who was an inveterate packrat.

Because of our house reconstruction project (back in Philly, before we joined the FS) i was particularly interested in the stories of the restoration of the building and of the artifacts. I felt some kinship when the curator explained that every time they opened up a wall they found new problems they hadn't expected, with the attendant time and expense added to the project for fixing said problems. When Falson died, he left the house and his possessions in trust and left it to the civil servants to execute the plan .... so the building remained untouched for 40 years. The artisans employed to restore what items they could were innumerable, from armorers, to textile experts, to architects, to university students (who had the exciting task of vacuuming every page of every book in the library, wearing gas masks all the while because the room had been loaded with DDT to preserve the books).

His collections are impressive, and the rooms are well appointed. The dining room is set up for a dinner party of six with the fine china, crystal and silver laid out, the kitchen made most of us envious even though it didn't have modern amenities like running water. All in all it was one of the highlights of my Malta touring experience.

We finished the tour at the cafe on the rooftop. Unfortunately, the cafe is only available to patrons of the museum. Our lunch was topped off with wonderful Fontanella chocolate cake (the cafe owner's mum is the proprietor of Fontanella so he gets desserts from her).

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