The history and evolution of Malta's unique systems of fortifications have so far generally been researched in Maltese archives. Francesco Menchetti explores the subject from a wholly different and novel perspective: what non-Maltese archives, mostly untapped, have to say about the determining influence of Renaissance Italian architects and military engineers in the progressive shaping of one of the most formidable schemes of defence in the whole world. His contribution is conclusive for a new understanding of the creators' work and for the appreciation of their creations. Up to the time of Grand Master Ramon Perellos, when the trend shifted from the dominant Italian tradition to the innovative breakthroughs of French military architecture, the transformation of Malta from defenceless island to impregnable fortress bore the stamp of Italian Renaissance genius.
The author traces the input of many of the greatest Italian figures in the science of fortification and hydraulics, as well as gardens and landscapes into the Malta concept, and dedicates a whole chapter to the problematic defence of Gozo. Very aptly the book rounds off with an analysis of the contribution of Italian creativity to the Maltese architectural panorama of the twenty-first century.
Francesco Menchetti has since 2009 been a lecturer teaching History of Gardens and Landscapes in the Faculty of Architecture at the Polytechnic of Milan. He is the author of numerous articles related to the history of military, hydraulic and hospital architecture in the Papal Legations during the Renaissance, dealing with architects such as Jacopo Barozzi known as Il Vignola, Domenico Tibaldi, Guidobaldo del Monte and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, as well as Bartolomeo Genga during his period in Malta. When he obtained his Ph.D from Turin Polytechnic in 2007, he had altready been studying the history of cultural relations between Italy and Malta for some time.
Francesco is a member of the Centro Internazionale di Studi sulla Prospettiva di Urbino, and collaborates with the Rete dei Giardini Storici (ReGis), Centro di Documentazione Storica, Villa Ghirlanda Silva, Milan.
This publication was launched on the 26th November 2013 at the Italian Cultural Institute in Valletta, where the author gave a brief presentation highlighting the discoveries he made in the course of his research.