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Palazzo Capua in Sliema is a building with a long history.

The years have gone by and time has taken its toll. Sliema today is now a bustling town – the fifth largest residential town in the Maltese Archipelago – no longer bearing any resemblance to the serene village it appeared in the early 19th century. Nevertheless, Palazzo Capua succeeds in blending harmoniously in its present-day urbanized surroundings. Today it once again stands proud and resplendent after undergoing meticulous restoration which has returned this gem to its former glory and appearance.

Palazzo Capua’s story spans three centuries and is infused with romance and spangled by the events of those who resided within its stately walls. The identity of Palazzo Capua’s original owners has been accredited to Biagio Tagliaferro, who is said to have built this palatial villa. However, the earliest established resident is cited as being a Russian banker acknowledged to have resided at the villa which was then known as Selma Hall.

The colonnaded building itself was a fine one but did not possess massive proportions within. However the palatial touch was achieved by a majestic staircase and gallery as its focal point. Additionally the porticos that surround the villa on all sides give it an elegant architectural unity and symmetry.

The property did boast of a vast expanse of gardens and land surrounding it, and being built on high ground, it enjoyed some magnificent views of the sea. An advertisement in the Malta Government Gazette of the 11th January, 1837 refers to the property as including a coach house and stables. A. Zammit (The Sunday Times 31.3.96) refers to notes by an ancestor of his, Francesco Zammit, who was commissioned to draw up a plan of the palace and its grounds. He described it as originally being 5,131m², having three terraces, two coach-houses, avenues with pergolas, flower beds, a fountain and cistern, a kitchen garden, a citrus orchard with 40 trees, as well as olive trees, vines, stone fruit trees, fig trees, prickly pears and a large number of other plants, trees and wild shrubs.

Carlo di Borbone the ill-fated Prince had been forced to live in exile outside Naples following his elopement and marriage to the lovely but commoner, Penelope. At the time the reign of the Two Sicilies was in the hands of Carlo’s brother, Ferdinand II, King of the Two Sicilies, who not only refused to acknowledge his brother’s marriage, but actually plotted against him. Ferdinand in fact, had ordered the confiscation of all of his brother’s property in Naples. The Prince accepted all the unfortunate economic conditions imposed upon him by his brother, as long as he could be allowed to live happily with Penelope.

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