Palazzino Nina is a charming 165 year old traditional Maltese townhouse situated in the very heart of Qormi, the third largest locality in Malta with 17,500 inhabitants. Qormi is renowned for bread baking and is indeed known as both the bakers’ city and Città Pinto, named after Grand Master Manuel Pinto de Fonseca, who in 1743 elevated the village of Qormi to an official city status. The shield of this city is the personal coat of arms of the same Grand Master - five upturned red crescents, above which is a mural crown representing the fortifications of Malta and indicating Qormi’s status as a città. During this period of the Knights (1530) Qormi contributed significantly in the struggle to defeat the Ottoman Turks in the Siege of 1565. To this day, Qormi is often referred to as Citta` Pinto. In 2018, Qormi celebrated its 275 years of becoming a city (città). The celebration was held 500m away from the hotel.
The recently restored Pinto`s Loggia which dates back to 1772, is located near the parish church of Saint Sebastian and commemorates to Manuel Pinto da Fonseca`s 31st year as Grand Master of the Order of Saint John. The structure was part of a large farmhouse complex which included stables for the Grand Master's horses. Legend has it that Grand Master Pinto used to sit in the loggia to keep in the shade whilst observing local horse races.
Today it comprises two parishes, Saint George the oldest of the two and Saint Sebastian. The town is rich in history, tradition and culture, amongst others it boasts of 200 niches of holy images, more than those found anywhere else on the island. The Saint George Parish Museum houses amongst other artworks, a painting of the Eternal Father by Preti and is definitely worth a visit.
Saint George's Church stands at the centre of the original village of Qormi. An earlier church was rebuilt or enlarged in 1456 by the then parish priest, Dun Giglio Lombardo, and there survives a Latin inscription in Gothic script noting this just inside the right door entrance. This church was demolished by 1584 and its stones incorporated into the new church, whose construction continued over the next century, during which it was enlarged and altered into a cruciform shape. Finally, the dome was added in 1684, designed by Lorenzo Gafà (1638-1703), a prominent Baroque architect whose legacy can be seen in numerous churches throughout Malta.
The area that is now the parish of Saint Sebastian has a history of about 200 years and consequently its layout is on a more modern plan than that of the old village centre. Malta has a long history of suffering from periodic outbreaks of the plague, usually carried on ships from the East, and probably because of its low-lying and marshy situation, Qormi has been the victim of some particularly virulent episodes. In the epidemic of 1813-14, over 4,600 people died in Malta, about 740 of them in Qormi. Indeed, the British governor of Malta, Sir Thomas Maitland, ordered Qormi to be literally walled in. When the epidemic was over, a statue of Saint Sebastian, traditionally a protector from the plague, was raised in thanksgiving on what was then the outskirts of Qormi and facing towards the port at Marsa from where the plague arrived. As the area developed, a church was built in the late 19th century directly across from the statue, although this soon proved too small for the ever-growing population of the area. In 1936, Saint Sebastian was granted status as a distinct parish and, within a few years, work began on a new church.
The townhouse lies in the old part of the village where one can venture through quant narrow streets and alleys featuring handcrafted doors, intricate ironware, and a number of shops carrying out traditional trades such as gilders, manufacturers of traditional horse sulkies and carpenters.
The Chapel of San Pietru (Saint Peter), rebuilt in 1656. Its well-preserved façade has a small niche of Saint Peter holding the keys to heaven, the coat of- arms of Michele Balaguer Camarasa (Bishop of Malta 1635-1663) and an ocular window with a floral pattern. On either side just under the roof are waterspouts (il-miżieb) in the shape of cannons. In the centre just above the door is the monogramme of the Jesuits: the initials IHS designating the name Jesus, a cross and three nails surrounded by solar rays. The chapel is located 200m away from the hotel and is open daily for Perpetual Adoration, so one can discreetly step inside.
The present church was built around 1657 and replaced a previous one dedicated to the Nativity of Our Lady, whose feast in Malta became identified with Our Lady of Victory because it was believed that the intercession of the Virgin Mary brought victory both over the Ottoman Turks in the Siege of 1565 and later in the so-called Second Siege during World War II. Palazzino Nina's Executive Suite is designed and named after this church. In fact, when standing in the suite's private terrace, one can see the bell tower from a close range. The church is located just round the corner from the hotel. The church is open for mass every morning.
During World War II Qormi was heavily bombed, therefore an air raid shelter was dug in order for the residents of the time to save themselves. The The recently uncovered shelter stretches 80 metres beneath one of Qormi's main streets (Triq il-Kbira) with many small rooms and a carving of Our Lady of Sorrows on the wall. This and other war shelters under the Police Station and beside the statue of Saint Paul on Triq il-Kbira are usually open to the public during feasts and certain holidays.
Close by to this Shelter is a traditional wine bar which specialises in serving traditional food and drink in an authentic building and environment. The wine bar is open daily in the evening. Ta' Cardona Wine Bar - Trip Advisor.
Built around 1589, the palazzo is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Qormi, but there is little reliable information about its early occupants or builders. A series of spacious rooms with impressive stone arches are organized around a central courtyard. The palazzo also has a small private chapel with an ornate ceiling and a tower accessed by a spiral stone staircase (il-garigor) offering fine views of the surrounding area, as well as of Mdina in the distance. Palazzo Stagno is located approximately 700m away from the hotel.
Qormi is located southwest of Valletta in the centre of the island making the place a desirable location for the commuting tourist seeking to immerse in tradition away from the hustle and bustle of other urban locations which are in any case logistically very accessible.
Indeed Palazzino Nina is situated on the bus routes to and by bordering towns; Marsa, Luqa, Żebbuġ, Siġġiewi, Ħamrun, Birkirkara, Attard, Santa Venera and Balzan with a park and ride facility situated in Marsa. The townhouse is minutes away from the Hop On Hop Off route to other tourist sought after areas such as Mdina, Sliema, Mosta and St. Paul’s Bay. The sports enthusiasts can venture to the Marsa Sports Complex with facilities ranging from not less than 15 tennis courts to a golf course and a swimming pool and a fitness center amongst others. The only horse race course in Malta is also situated on the outskirts of the town and till this very day, there are still many horse enthusiasts among the locals. In fact, one is bound to see either early in the morning or late in the evening horses being exercised in the streets and stables on the back lanes.
Approximately 1.0km away from the hotel, guests can visit the different stores located in a recently launched shpopping complex. One comes across renowned eateries, retail outlets and supermarkets which are just opposite the park and ride facility where one can take different buses to different destinations across the Island, amongst which there is a bus route to Valletta, Saint Julians, Saint Paul's Bay and Saint Peter's Pool in Marsascala.
The visitor can explore this authentic Maltese town through pleasant country walks such as that from Tal-Blat to Tal-Ħlas. An interesting read in this respect would be Ħal Qormi – Four Walks through a Historic City by Jeffrey Twitchell-Waas, published by Din L-Art Ħelwa, a not for profit, non-governmental voluntary organisation, that safeguards historic, artistic and natural heritage of the Malta.
Find out more about some places of interest in Qormi - here.Notable events held throughout the year in Qormi include:
- The well renowned Good Friday Pageant held in Saint George;
- Easter which is celebrated with cheerful processions in both Saint George's Parish the Saint Sebastian’s Parish;
- The Malta National Spring Festival;
- The Annual Wine Festival;
- The Bread Festival known as Lejl f’Casal Fornaro.