Kostantino Micallef was born and raised in Greece, but his great-great-great-grandfather was from Birkirkara – and that 19th century link has now led to him acquiring Maltese citizenship.
Santo Micallef, born in 1788, left Malta in 1820 during the mass wave of Maltese emigration to the Greek island of Corfu. When the Governor of Malta, Sir Thomas Maitland, was appointed Lord High Commissioner of Corfu and the Ionian Islands, he decided to take Maltese builders, whom he believed had superior skills compared to the locals, to Corfu to build the Governor’s Palace.
Over 1,000 Maltese went to work in Corfu and many, like Santo Micallef, decided to stay there once the job was done.
Six generations later, Kostantino Micallef, deputy chief of the Corfu International Airport Fire Brigade Station, managed to obtain Maltese citizenship by demonstrating his links to Malta.
Mr Micallef was born in Greece in 1978 but his unusual surname was proof of his connection to another country.
He told Times of Malta: “I visit Malta at least once a year because of my Maltese roots. My grandfather used to tell me many stories he was told by his own grandfather about Malta. Those stories excited me as a kid, and it was then that I began wondering about my roots.”
The struggle was proving why I had a Maltese surname
He first applied for Maltese citizenship in 2013 and was granted it in 2019.
“The struggle was proving why I had a Maltese surname. I had to go to the Catholic Church in Corfu to find all the birth, marriage and death certificates of my ancestors, from my father to my great-great-great-grandfather, and send all the papers to the authorities in Malta.”
Mr Micallef learnt that his ancestor, Santo, grandfather to his great-grandfather, was born in Birkirkara and left for Corfu in 1820 after his first wife died giving birth. He then got married for a second time, aged 43, to Maria Baldazino in Corfu.
“It took seven years to find all the papers and prove that I was in fact of Maltese stock,” Mr Micallef said.
In 1840, Santo’s son was born in Corfu and baptised as Spiridon Micallef. Spiridon then became father to Angelo-Ioannis Micallef in 1884. In 1925, Angelo-Ioannis Micallef became the father of Konstantinos Micallef. Konstantinos-Ioannis Micallef was the father of Nikolaos Micallef, who was born in 1950.
Kostantino Micallef is the son of Nikolaos Micallef, making him a sixth generation Maltese.
Kostantino has two daughters, four-year-old Konstantina and two-year-Eleni, for whom he has already applied for Maltese citizenship which he hopes will be granted soon.
“I want to ensure that they have as many open doors as possible. I think it’s important for them to have dual citizenship, because we live in Greece, but we don’t know what will happen in the future. Maybe one day they will want to come to Malta’s university. When I ask my eldest daughter where she is from, she answers that she’s Maltese.
“The history of our family is very important to me and I want to stay in contact with my roots. My feelings for Malta are deep and genuine.”
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us