The Man Behind Green Portomaso

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Victor Calleja

Peter Calamatta is Malta’s own greenery star and guru. The light his star emits is surely green—the green of grass and anything horticultural, definitely not of envy as the man is renowned for being more than generous. 

He was the original green-fingered man, who singlehandedly started a green revolution, even going on TV to preach all about plants, gardens and landscaping. He it was who took plants, planting, greenery and landscaping so seriously that a whole nation followed suit. Malta and its green side owe a lot to Peter. And if, when driving around the island, you admire the flowery sights on the roundabouts—do please remember this is another of Peter’s ideas that have come to fruition.

Peter lives in one of the luxurious apartments in the Portomaso marina. He waxes most lyrical about the whole project and is immensely proud to have seen it evolve from a developer’s dream to a fully-functional, successful complex which can easily be described as a microcosm of a town. And if you walk around Portomaso do notice the landscaping—yes, you’ve guessed it, Peter and his team have had their green fingers in it. 

However, it isn’t only the landscaping which makes the place so beautiful and quasi-magical. Peter talks highly of the developers who left more space than was needed according to planning regulation. They used the space intelligently to make it all more comfortable and visually attractive. 

Peter says that “the developers together with the architects devised the complex not as a flat structure but tiered. This was a great stroke of vision and gave us, as landscapers, more possibilities for good and interesting designs. 

“The Portomaso development has been one of the most successful I’ve ever seen,” Peter tells me. “And,” he emphasises, “I mean in the world, not just Malta. It has everything right and has a buzz about it that makes anyone living here feel good. It’s great for all ages and any state of health—and for whatever way of life you enjoy. You’re close, to or rather part of, some of the chicest shops, best restaurants and a vista of mesmerising blue seas and the constant coming and going of small and bigger boats and yachts. The view is definitely the best I’ve ever seen. The way Portomaso was planned makes you close to people if you want to be but secluded and cut off enough if you want to be private. We even have the Millennium Chapel close by for our spiritual sustenance. It is an inter-denominational chapel for all religions and beliefs.

“I know I may be rather biased because I live here and two of my children have apartments here too. But I can assure you I’ve seen many places in my travels and studies abroad and few, if any, compare to the totality of this place.” 

Peter Calamatta used to run a most efficient and successful company now in the able hands of his son Carlos. The company offers horticulture, landscaping and anything greenfingers-connected. He is a leader in his field and, together with his son and team, continually wins accolades in the field. 

Interestingly he went into the world of plants and landscaping purely by chance. When he was young his dream was to go into show-biz. When just a teenager, Peter and his brother entered a singing competition and won.
A real success, thought Peter—everyone will be so proud of me. He ran home to give his parents the great news. When he related his achievement—holding high his still blazing trophy—his father screamed his anger at them. Peter lost his smile and the trophy its lustre. Books give you a bright future, not singing and dancing, were his father’s last words that day. 

His father persuaded him to start reading medicine but medicine was not for him. He opted out of the course as quickly as possible. “When he learnt about an opening for a scholarship in horticulture he applied though he was a city man born and bred and didn’t have a clue what it entailed. But it involved studying abroad and that appealed to him.When he returned, he took up a post with the Department of Agriculture. Here he was very successful and he pioneered the use of greenhouses, the proper care and growing of fruit and vegetables and oversaw the country’s first exports of flowers and tomatoes. After some years he resigned, opening his first shop and starting a true revolution in people’s mentality and greenery.

Peter Calamatta is a colourful man who loves doing anything creative—as long as what he creates is enjoyed by others. “And that is why,” he tells me “I love Portomaso. It is safe and secure with everything within walking distance. And on the few days the weather is not too inviting we can walk to all the places in the vicinity without going above ground. Passing via the labyrinthine car park you are connected to all the various outlets. Yes, I really think Portomaso has given me a great life since we moved here just over ten years ago.”

Whether he is discussing pots and plants, singing or telling his stories, Peter is an absolute joy to meet and talk to. His composure comes from his inner self but is surely helped by his dedication to making our public spots truly beautiful. He loves Portomaso—and Portomaso loves him.

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