Malta's Palace of the Countess: Estate of the Day
While MTV may claim cultural ownership of Malta with its "Isle of MTV" festival staged there each July, the island that lies just south of Sicily has roots that run way deeper than Hollywood's recent interest. With some 7,000 years of history under its Mediterranean belt, Malta's megaliths, medieval dungeons and Calypso's Cave make the island positively mythic.
Reflecting that old world charm is the Il-Palazz tal-Kontessa (the palace of the countess), and a palace it is -- sans the garish and overly ornate Baroque and Rococo influences generally associated with palaces. Located in Rabat, Malta, the 19-room restored mansion has almost 11,000 square feet of living space and is on the market for 5 million Euros, or approximately $6.6 million U.S.
This palazzo lacks no modern amenity and includes domestic office spaces, private guest accommodations, servant quarters and large public areas for entertaining. The mansion has an imposing entry way, a central courtyard, two lateral office spaces each with private entry, a kitchen designed by Antonio Citterio, five bedrooms with private bathrooms, a gym, Hammam, library and wine cellar.
One of the more unusual features is the transparent glass flooring on the second floor. This roofed courtyard serves as an art gallery and has also been used by the owner-designer as a dance floor, accommodating up to 60 people. Should anyone suffer from vertigo, says the property representative Peter Rabitz, a faux turf carpet is stashed away and ready for use should the need arise to hide the glass flooring. The home is filled with natural light, diffused by the UV-filtering skylights. A green mosaic swimming pool accentuates the lush green gardens. The home has an elevator, a sauna, wine cellar, meditation room, and outdoor dining area.
Malta has recently been discovered by Hollywood -- both the industry and its A-listers. Bruce Willis vacationed here after shooting "Die Hard," drawing the world's eyes to the island. In 2004, Brad Pitt filmed his blockbuster "Troy" here. "A Different Loyalty," starring Sharon Stone was shot here the same year. Parts of "Gladiator" with Russell Crowe was filmed in Malta and Madonna shot her 2002 film, "Swept Away," here as well. Oscar-winning director Alejandro Amenabar filmed the ancient Egyptian epic, "Agora," on Malta.
Gallery: Malta's Palace of the Countess