Renato Zampa - Jeweler

"They Are All My Relatives"

Renato was born in Valletta on Merchant’s Street in front of St. Dominic's Church.  He doesn’t live in Valletta anymore but I joke with his wife that “he wants to move back”.  “It’s true,” he follows up. His family has been in the jewellery business for over 200 years.  He is the 6th generation with his son also being in the business.  The first Zampa arrived from Rome as a jeweller. The government of Malta at the time was looking for an authority or a consul in jewellery to stamp gold as an official appraiser. “All gold had to be stamped”.

I mention that there are a multitude of Zampa jewellery stores in Valletta. “They are all my relatives,” he exclaims. His family started opening shops in Valletta back in about 1830. Renato said he had no choice, it was the family business. His father now in the business for 73 years, started when he was 14 years of age because his father had died. Most of the family shops are located on St. Lucia street. During World War II, the area was flattened and they had to rebuild their stores.

Some of his fondest memories of growing up here include swimming at the Valletta Waterpolo Club.  People sometimes used to say that he was born in the pool. His father used to play on the Valletta team. The club is still there and is located on the Marsamxett side of Valletta.  When he was 18 years old, he met his wife “just down the road” on St. Paul’s Street just next to the church.

It was a big deal to say you were from the city. They were and still are very proud.

He spends 11 hours in Valletta, arriving at 8am and departing at 7pm. We he wants to go out to eat, he will often come back to Valletta for dinner. “We are so proud of it, I love it”, he says.   He moved from Valletta at the age of 25 to Gzira where he still resides to this day. I point out that Gzira is maybe about an 11 minute drive to Valletta so why all the fuss? He loves all of the activity in Valletta. Renato points out that back in the 90’s there were about 20,000 people living in Valletta. Nowadays there are 6000 or so people living her. “They left in those days because everyone wanted to go out from Valletta. Now everyone wants to come into Valletta.”

I ask Renato about his hobbies.  He said before it used to be water polo, football, politics and the like. But now it’s “eating and drinking wine”.

Excerpt from: “Valletta – A Personal City Guide by 8 tourist guides from Malta” Midsea books


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