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Monday, April 10, 2006

An oasis carved in stony Malta

M.J. Smith writes in the International Herald Tribune about George Pisani and his family who have transformed a lime-stone quarry into 'a sunken garden' worth 2.5 million liri. From IHT:

The house is named "Il Hofra" - "the hole" in Malti - and once you walk around back, you know why. George Pisani and his family have turned a lime- stone quarry about 25 meters, or 80 feet, deep into a sunken garden. There are terraces, fruit trees, a fish pond seven meters deep and, at the rear, a fountain that turns out to be part of an elaborate water-management system. The Pisanis have lived here, about seven kilometers, or four miles, from Valletta, the capital, for 13 years - almost always accompanied by varying numbers of workmen.

When they first arrived, what is now the house was the operations center for the quarry. Pisani said they expan- ded the house by 60 percent; it now totals about 400 square meters, or 4,300 square feet, and is spread over two floors. It is listed at 2.5 million Maltese liri, or more than $7 million. The first floor includes formal living and dining rooms, a small office and a sprawling eat-in kitchen. In the family room, where one wall is covered with rough stone book- shelves, Pisani gestured toward the French doors and a pool beyond, saying, "We brought the outside in." But, as in much of Malta's fortresslike architecture, the stone walls are thick and the windows are small by contemporary standards...

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