1. The History
The villa was constructed by Prof. Salvatore Luigi Pisani as his residence in the 1870’s (pictured in 1902 below):
SLPisani1902 by HughieDW, on Flickr
Prior to moving to Marsaxlokk, the professor lived at 33 Strada Alessandro Valletta. He gave this house to his cousin Giovanna Manche who had just married Prof. Col. Lorenzo Manche in 1870. Prof Pisani continued living in Valletta with the Manches for a few years until Villa Sans Souci was finished.
In 1885 he was appointed Malta’s first Chief Government Medical Officer (CGMO). He spent thirteen comfortable yeas in Villa Sans Souci, situated between Casal Zeitun and Marsascirocco, until he quietly passed away at the age of 80, in the villa on October 27th, 1908 after a prolonged illness and was buried in the nearby Addolorata Cemetery.
After his death Villa Sans Souci was used by his heirs, the aforementioned Giovanna and Lorenzo Manche and their children, as their country/summer residence. For a short while in the 1930’s it was used as a hotel/guest house after which time the villa was sold by the family in 1940.
The villa in its heyday…possibly in the early 1900s:
VillaSansSouciMxlokk by HughieDW, on Flickr
After that the history gets a bit sketchy. In more recent times the villa became the target not only of vandals, but also of ‘collectors’. Besides its fine architecture the villa boasted some very interesting features including several beautiful stone and marble fireplaces and staircase that lead to the first floor. The stone gazebo which commands magnificent views of Marsaxlokk over extensive gardens and fields still survives in situ. On the first floor landing on the wall facing the staircase, there was a fine artistic mural which was the work of the famous Lazzaro Pisani who was a personal friend of Prof. Pisani, depicting the scene of Marsaxlokk as seen from the side terrace of the villa.
Another curious feature was a series of three gates situated in the staircase leading to the second floor. They were designed by Prof. Pisani himself and had a secret way of locking and unlocking for security reasons, to secure the second floor where Prof. Pisani kept his magnificent coin and medal collection. It was eventually donated to the Malta Museum a century ago. In the niche on the front top of the villa he had installed a bell which was his only means of communication with anyone in case of need. It was apparently used on two occasions during attempted thefts. The house also has a reputation for paranormal activity and there have been numerous ghost stories tied to this place.
2. The Explore
Had this place on my list as it turned up on my pre-trip research into Malta. Although next to a road it proved more difficult to locate than expected given that those that had previously explored it had not know the place’s full name along with the fact that (1) the Google Maps car is yet to drive round Malta and (2) my sat-nav was the equivalent of Monty Python’s “Inflammatory Hungarian Phrasebook”. Once found, however, it was an easy-in and I spent the best part of an overcast morning hour looking round it. Ironically having explored it, I sat in my car taking pictures, waiting to see if it got brighter. The owner, who’s Land Rover was parked a few metres down from the house, saw me taking pictures and quite aggressively got in his car and drove right up in front of my car, got out and demanded if I spoke English. “Erm, yes” came my reply. “What are you doing?” he quizzed me. “Taking pictures of that historic house. It looks very interesting” I replied. “I own it. So you are just taking pictures? OK, that is no problem. You can carry on.” and back in his car he got and drove off. It may have been more of a problem if he’d caught me sneaking round it earlier on!
3. The Pictures
From the road:
img9459 by HughieDW, on Flickr
In we go:
img9406 by HughieDW, on Flickr
Blocks have fallen!
img9408 by HughieDW, on Flickr
Floors have gone:
img9410 by HughieDW, on Flickr
View out to the walled garden:
img9413 by HughieDW, on Flickr
Some lovely internal columns:
img9414 by HughieDW, on Flickr
View out to the charming stone gazebo:
img9415 by HughieDW, on Flickr
img9428 by HughieDW, on Flickr
Looking out eastwards from the gazebo:
img9429 by HughieDW, on Flickr
View down into the basement:
img9416 by HughieDW, on Flickr
Some of the villa’s original tiled flooring:
img9417 by HughieDW, on Flickr
img9418 by HughieDW, on Flickr
Here’s the aforementioned mural by Lazzaro Pisani on the first floor:
img9419 by HughieDW, on Flickr
A first floor fireplace left high and dry(ish):
img9422 by HughieDW, on Flickr
img9424 by HughieDW, on Flickr
Various elevations as viewed from the south:
img9425 by HughieDW, on Flickr
img9426 by HughieDW, on Flickr
img9441 by HughieDW, on Flickr
img9444 by HughieDW, on Flickr
A bricked up doorway on the road:
img9446 by HughieDW, on Flickr
img9448 by HughieDW, on Flickr
img9452 by HughieDW, on Flickr
Arches on the north side of the villa:
img9453 by HughieDW, on Flickr
img9456 by HughieDW, on Flickr
Thanks for looking!