The Malta Independent 17 May 2022, Tuesday

Honorary Citizenship for a descendant of Floriani

Malta Independent Saturday, 20 March 2010, 00:00 Last update: about 9 years ago

A short but significant ceremony was held on Saturday 6 March at the Floriana Local Council’s premises during which the Mayor of Floriana, Nigel Holland presented the certificate of Honorary Citizenship (Cittadinanza Onoraria) of Floriana to Contessa Carla Floriani Compagnoni and Giorgio Meschini, Mayor of Macerata. The Contessa is a descendant of Pietro Paolo Floriani, the military engineer who built the Floriana lines. The origins of the family date back to 1055. Her father Eros Compagnoni Floriani continued the work started by previous generations of protecting the family archives. The Contessa, a regular visitor to Malta, says of her ancestor Pietro Paolo: “Their efforts to protect the family archives have allowed us to study more deeply this eclectic character, military strategist and great military engineer. A portrait we have portrays him as authoritative and proud of his Malta Cross which is pinned prominently on his elegant black suit. It depicts him in the act of adding his final signature to the Floriana project. His eyes are attentive, piercing. He seems unhurried. You cannot fail to notice in his look a strong creative vein. His determined and impulsive character, his attention to any news strongly emerges from his letters.” She continues to talk about her eminent ancestor: “Pietro was constantly stimulated to study by his father, Pompeo, himself a military engineer and architect. Pompeo resided in Malta around 1570 and observed closely the building of the new fortifications of Valletta by Laprelli in 1566. Pompeo’s 1576 publication Discorso Intorno all’isola di Malta speaks highly of Laparelli’s work. When Pompeo died in 1600 aged just 55 he left three very young children. Pietro Paolo was just 15 and already heading for a brilliant and adventurous future.”

When Pietro Paolo was 19 he got involved in a fight in which an Alessandro Boccalazi died. A few months later, thanks to the intervention of the church and relatives, he was pardoned by the man’s relatives. “Following this episode,” says the Contessa, “he had to leave home and his environment.”

Then, in 1605, Pietro Paolo married Maria Pellicani who, soon after got pregnant. “She died in childbirth leaving Pietro Paolo with a daughter, Camilla, who was raised with love and care by his family. In 1606 Pietro left Macerata heading for a new future, an adventurous life full of travel, wars, great enterprises – and Malta!”

Professor Quentin Hughes writes in Fortress: Architecture and Military History in Malta: “In 1632 Pietro Paolo Floriani was invited to Malta to discuss the possibility of strengthening the land front of Valletta by increasing its depth towards Marsa. His name was well known on the island. His father Pompeii Floriana had been a notable writer on the art of fortification, and had published a book in 1576, criticizing Laparelli’s defences of Valletta.”

When his father died, Floriani, within the aura created by the fame and success of his father, threw himself into a study of battle tactics and in particular military architecture. His work was heeded by the Knights. In Malta he criticized the Laparelli defences on five scores, according to Professor Hughes. Nevertheless and with some reluctance, Floriani’s plan was accepted and work went ahead on the chain of bastions but from solid rock. Floriani had a bad temper, holding in contempt those who opposed his plans. “In deep disgust and feeling that he had been maligned by certain persons who were envious of his renown and reputation, he left Malta… he died shortly afterwards at the age of 53, possibly of a broken heart,” Quentin Hughes writes.

It is a fitting tribute to the great military engineer Floriani that a descendant of his should be given the honorary citizenship of Floriana.

Marie Benoît

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