Casa Rocca Piccola is a 16th-century palace in Malta, and home of the noble de Piro family. It is situated in Valletta, the capital city of Malta. There are daily tours. The history of Casa Rocca Piccola goes back over 400 years to an era in which the Knights of St John, having successfully fought off the invading Turks in 1565, decided to build a prestigious city to rival other European capitals such as Paris and Venice. Palaces were designed for prestige and aesthetic beauty in most of Valletta’s streets, and bastion walls fortified the new sixteenth-century city. Casa Rocca Piccola was one of two houses built in Valletta by Admiral Don Pietro la Rocca. It is referenced in maps of the time as “la casa con giardino” meaning, the house with the garden, as normally houses in Valletta were not allowed gardens. Changes were made in the late 18th century to divide the house into two smaller houses. Further changes were made in 1918 and before the second world war an air raid shelters was added. The Casa Rocca Piccola Family Shelter is the second air-raid shelter to be dug in Malta. In 2000 a major restoration project saw the two houses that make up Casa Rocca Piccola reunited.
“This morning we come about half past five, you know. Not much today. The waves come in and make salt. We start from May up till September and always depends on the weather. The big one there; 20% salt, better than nothing. It takes 5 days, 7 days, but it always depends on the weather, the wind and the water. This is my land. It belong in our relations, 170 years. That’s my part, from that part to the edge of somebody else’s. But once it was one.” Emmanuel Cini, Salter. Żebbuġ, Gozo, 30 August 2014.
Malta has an abundance of architectural history. There are multiple layers within each city ranging from the ancient temples of Tarxien, Hagar Qim and Mnajdra to the cathedrals of St. John’s and St. Paul’s. On the streets of Valletta a more recent history is developing before us in the form of its shop fronts. Some of these wooden frontages, kiosks and painted signs can be traced back to the later part of the 19th century. Their signs reveal what the owners occupations were, the services they offered and what they sold. Bars, Pastizzerias and Stationers are just a few of the types of stores that flourished here. Some are still operating under different shops name but most remain closed and out of use. From a total of 112 stores under protection, only 19 are presented here. (Schembri, Times of Malta [online], 2011).