Being an elegant aristocratic country house, surrounded by lovely gardens with splendid fountains, ponds and pavilions, Villa Bologna is a popular venue for weddings, concerts and various philanthropic events, while is also available for tourists. It offers an exciting journey through Maltese history, sharing it for more than 270 years, and delights senses with the beauty of architectural forms and the richness of plant life.
The country house was constructed in 1745 as a wedding gift for a daughter of Fabrizio Grech, an advisor to Grand Master Pinto da Fonseca. The villa got its name from her groom, who was a Maltese count. Later, the country house was passed to the Lord Strickland, an heir to Bologna family, a peer and the Prime Minister of Malta in the early 19th century. His second wife was a keen gardener, who made a great contribution to expanding the gardens and gave them a unique design, blending a turn-of-the century style into initial elements of the late Baroque. Nowadays, this stately home is a residency of de Trafford family whose members are the Lord Strickland’s descents and related with almost all medieval royal families.
Though tours, revealing the splendid indoors of Villa Bologna, which are full of vintage paintings, sculptures and furniture, are fee-based, the gardens, occupying more than 7 acres are freely accessible for tourists. They can enjoy an hour and a half walk through its landscaped space with multiple shady pathways and comfortable benches. The exquisite fountains, ponds and pavilions are supplemented by beautiful citrus groves, vegetable gardens and flower beds. The gardens boast the great variety of flora, much of which is unique for Maltese islands. Tourists can admire bougainvillea, araucaria, silk oak, Persian lilac, roses, geranium, vinca, jacaranda, rosemary, pepper trees and many other flowers and trees, which perfectly complement the elegant gates, fountains, arches, statues and decorative vases.
The tour includes a short film about the history of Villa Bologna, while an audio guide helps in exploring all the gardens paths. Also, tourists are welcome to visit the WWII air-raid shelter carved in the rock at a depth of 20 meters and giving an idea of how the villa owners survived bombings.
Within the Villa Bologna territory, there is a ceramics workshop, created by the owners’ friends in the 50s. Beautiful hand-painted pottery is sold there, along with tasty jams made from fruits, which are grown right in the gardens.