Those looking for a balmy summer evening away from the crazy crowds will surely take advantage of the Villa Frère special opening on Sunday July 4th, between 5:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
This is an initiative of the NGO Friends of Villa Frère, in collaboration with Heritage Malta. The NGO has worked hard to protect what remains of the villa and to restore the gardens to their former glory.
Built in the 18th century, Villa Frère became the residence of British diplomat, poet, scholar and philanthropist John Hookham Frère. After his wife’s death in 1831, he built extensive terraced gardens at the rear of the property, from which he enjoyed an unobstructed view stretching from Mdina to Valletta. He could also look at the cemetery at Msida Stronghold, where his wife rested.
Villa Frère has become a sanctuary for many academics, including Mikiel Anton Vassalli who is said to have discussed with Frère how to establish Maltese as a written and taught language.
This romantic story and the Villa Frère garden disappeared with Frère’s death in 1846. The site fell into disrepair until forty years later, when the villa became the residence of Captain Edward Price. A great lover of gardens, he brought the property back to life and earned it the title of botanical garden. The place has become a prominent attraction, both for locals and foreigners.
Today, just over a third of the original area survives, but the mystique is still there. Those who wish to experience it will be able to do so next Sunday, against a donation of 5 €. Children will be admitted free of charge. All proceeds will go towards the continued restoration of the gardens. Entrance is through Saint-Luc Hospital, Pietà.
This content has been supplied by Heritage Malta