The Malta Independent 19 November 2018, Monday

Villa Francia Restored to original beauty and open to the public

Malta Independent Wednesday, 9 September 2009, 00:00 Last update: about 5 years ago

Villa Francia has been restored to its former glory and now the public has a unique opportunity to experience the beauty of this estate firsthand.

Villa Francia was previously known as Villa Preziosi and was donated to the government by the Francia family. It is situated in the northern part of Lija.

The majestic building will be open for families to visit on Sunday 13 September from 11am till 6pm. Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi will hold an official inauguration on 12 September.

Villa Francia saw its origins in mid-eighteenth century when the baroque style started to be used in architecture commissioned by pretentious and rich Maltese families. Some of these mansions were so expensive that some of their ambitious owners eventually ended up bankrupt.

The villa's uses changed over time. Initially it was used as a hunting house at a time when Lija was a less inhabited village than it is today. The countryside offered safe shelter from the much-feared attacks from the Muslims. It is recorded that it was completed in the late eighteenth century but it seems that some amendments were made in the mid-twentieth century. Eventually it was used as a villa.

The villa consists of two floors with a front and back garden. There is a nympheum and a large reservoir in the back garden. On the southern side there is a small two-floor establishment with a few rooms, which were probably used by the servitude. The villa comprises a number of unique Maltese architectural features such as unique sculptures, the remissa and stables. It also has a round belvedere surrounded by some two hectares of land overlooking Mosta.

Villa Francia served as the Prime Minister Sir Ugo Mifsud's residence between September 1924 and August 1927 and between June 1932 and November 1933. Sir Ugo Mifsud was married to Mrs Francia.

Restoring Villa Francia was a thorough and collective effort. A multidisciplinary team made up of stone and painting conservationists, electrical and mechanical engineers and landscape architects and MCAST conservation students. It was a unique experience for the entire team.

The intervention was a complex one as one must understand and respect all the changes the villa went through to preserve all the authentic characteristics and not diminish the villa's intrinsic value.

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