Towards the middle of the 17th Century, the Auberge d’Italie was decorated by what is called ‘la grande scala’, the great stairs. Due to structural interventions carried out at the auberge during the years, the stairs’ prestige was lost when, among others, two rooms were built on them. MUŻA national arts museum curator, Dr Sandro Debono said that during restoration work in August 2017, workers found the stairs and the MUŻA project design was changed, which also led to the delay in the project’s completion.
“We started an intensive research to investigate what we have. We discovered that there are an important stairs, probably built towards the 60s of the 17th Century, and known as the scala grande, the great stairs”.
Dr Debono added that research showed that originally the stairs were built in a way that they received light from large windows and with prominent space.
“We had to bring two essential things – the idea of light and how it enters through the windows, one of them leads to above Melita Street. At sunrise, especially before the St James church was built on the other side of the road, sunlight entered directly in the corridor and the original passage. This could not be all done as the building changed through time; the stairs space became smaller and it was difficult to remove the historic walls. Therefore we tried to bring back the original passage”.
Dr Debono said that the stairs were built with contemporary material, called teku, consisting of aluminium covered with copper, metal and glass. However, the project was designed to leave remains of the stairs built in the 17th Century, windows, doors and arcades opened during the building’s history.