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Birgu’s Auberge d’Italie

Protecting the most significant buildings, monuments and features of Malta (23)

The Italian Knights were strongly represented and highly influential within the Order. The langue occupied a prestigious post within the Order – Captain General of the Fleet.

The original auberge was destroyed during World War II and unsympathetically rebuilt in 1961-1963, and thus little remains of the original fabric. This auberge was the only one to be built outside the collacchio due to its naval and maritime responsibilities related to the post it occupied within the Order.

This auberge also incorporated a naval hospital and a small chapel (dedicated to St Catherine).

According to Zahra, the current auberge was built in 1553-1554 on the same site of the original auberge and thus it is attributed to Niccolo’ Bellavante. It is interesting to note that the first carnival festivities and revelry were introduced by the Italian Langue in 1535, and for this purpose a raised platform was built in front of the auberge.

The only visible remains of the Auberge d’Italie on the façade consist of a corner quoin, a partially defaced coat-of-arms, a small number of mouldings around first floor apertures similar to those found on the other auberges and the corbels and base of a balcony.

The reconstruction during the 1960s has totally disfigured the original design of the façade. Moreover, unsympathetic material (concrete) was also introduced. One should note that the dwellings seem to be of a sub-standard nature and this compounds the visual deficiencies of the incongruent design of the recent additions. Auberge d’Italie, Triq San Lawrenz, Vittoriosa, was scheduled by MEPA as a Grade 1 national monument as per Government Notice number 1082/09 in the Government Gazette dated December 22, 2009.

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