Emilio Lombardi (1881 – 1956)
Emilio Lombardi, son of the Italian, Giovanni Lombardi and the German, Giuseppina Weiss, was born in Alexandria (Egypt) on the 14th of January 1881. His family relocated to Malta when Emilio was 10 years-old.
From a tender age, he was already showing his interest in printing and all that it entails; so much so that when he was a mere sixteen years of age, he started his apprenticeship at a Printing Press owned by Carmelo Mifsud, in St. Ursula’s Street, Valletta. The printing industry affected him so much that it sparked off his desire to own his very own printing press.
On the 21st of October 1901, he was married to Fortunata Galea from Valletta, and saw this newly married couple settling in Sliema and raising 9 children (7 boys and 2 girls) in Nr. 92, St. Trophimus Street.
By 1899, Emilio established his own small one-roomed printing press, entitled Tipografia Nazionale, situated in Nr. 1, Lion Street, Floriana (currently houses Caritas Malta). In 1908, he moved the press close to the Ferries at Sliema, Nr. 17, Strada Marina (nowadays Triq ix-Xatt), and renamed it Stamperija Lombardi (Lombardi Press). It was in 1912, when he set up his new printing press in the heart of Sliema, at a very close proximity to the Sacro Cuor Church, in the corner of St. Trophimus and St. Mary, where it still can be found to the present day.
From the very first Printing Press established, Fortunata, an energetic and hard-working woman, never shied away from giving her husband a helping hand at the press. This tradition was kept by his grown children, where after finished their education, also assisted their father in the daily running of, and the printing.
Emilio was practicing his penmanship since he was fifteen years of age. In fact, by 1902, he self-published and printed three books at his own press. His career as an “amateurish” writer spanned for over 50 years and is best known for his novels (better known as Rumanzi), non-fiction and religious publications; which can still be enjoyed by both children and adults alike. Work aside, Emilio was a keen observer, a religious man, quite social, and travelled a lot; therefore, it comes as no surprise that most of the recurrent themes in his publications range from historical, patriotic, religious, the Second World War, and profane.
At the age of 75, on the eve of the titular feast of Sacro Cuor, June the 17th 1956, Emilio fainted and died the following day, the 18th of June, at 8.40pm.
Emilio Lombardi authored more than 80 books and is recognised as one of Malta’s leading authors. In fact, a street in Sliema was named after him, Treiqet Emilio Lombardi; this side-street can be found verging off from Manuel Dimech Street. After his death, his publications were re-edited and re-published in modern Maltese; with some being also broadcasted on live public radio.