A little further down, Main Street continues as Saint Anthony Street featuring another grand residence, Villa Apap Bologna. Today the official residence of the American ambassador, one of its previous inhabitants was the celebrated English zoologist and author Desmond Morris. Morris came to the house shortly after publishing his runaway success ‘The Naked Ape’ in 1967 – in part in order to avoid a huge tax bill. A frequent guest of Morris at the time was another celebrity, the much loved naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough.
Of the other villas lining the street the one called Roseville is the most singular. Built in 1912 in an Art Nouveau style which is quite unique to the island, the house is the only building in Malta where polycromy was used on the façade, with recessed panels painted in red and motifs picked out in other colours. Abandoned for a long time, the villa has now been sensitively restored and serves as a home for the elderly.
The confines of Attard, whose motto is Florigera rosis halo ("I perfume the air with blossoms”), end appropriately at San Anton Palace and Gardens. The palace was built by Grand Master de Paule between 1623 and 1636 and today serves as the official residence of the President of Malta. While the palace is not usually open to the public, both its tiny and lavishly decorated chapel and the gardens are. The gardens are in fact the largest formal gardens in Malta with various points of interest and trees planted by various dignitaries – including one planted in 1921 by the Emperor (then Crown Prince) Hirohito of Japan.
Next to the gardens is the recently opened President’s Kitchen Garden – originally the garden that supplied the palace with a variety of herbs and vegetables and now comprising a café, an educational area and a small menagerie of animals – a good place to wind down after touring the highlights of this lovely village.