Practically invisible to passers-by, this derelict villa is best known to the older generation. But it deserves to be saved for today’s and the future generations to appreciate its history.
Villa Bonici is situated along the way up from the Ferries towards the Sliema police station along Manwel Dimech Street in Sliema.
Today it is falling apart, but this was once a grand villa that was also beautiful inside. One of its main features was a large wooden staircase embracing a tall tree.
And then there were the gardens. They were huge!
Villa Bonici originally had a stretch of gardens so big that it went all the way down to the Ferries. Here, an elegant stone border wall with iron fencing overlooked the coast road. It had a beautiful arched gate (see old insert photo). Part of the garden was taken up when the former Forestals showroom was built. The gardens were so big they spanned from Parisio Street on one side, right to St. Agatha Street on the other.
A RARE OPEN-AIR CINEMA
Did you know that this villa was once an open-air cinema, too? And that it was one of only one of few its kind in Malta back in the day (there was also the Mercury)?
Many of a certain age will recall being taken here as kids by their parents to watch black and white movies in the 1940s and 1950s. There used to be Italian opera, too, and shows by famous magicians in the summers.
A SCHOOL ATTENDED BY MANY
The villa also served as a school. Many a girl attended the St. Louis Grammar School there. That was until 1969, when the school was moved to the former military barracks in Ta’ Ġiorni. Most of the classrooms in Villa Bonici overlooked the gardens although there were classrooms in the basement too.
The photos speak clearly for themselves. And it has been in this state for decades with seemingly still nothing concrete in the pipeline for its future. Pardon the ‘concrete’ pun…