To be considered fun, Italian jokes must always include a character whose origin leads back to Naples, the controversial southern city. Despite this my recent visit to Malta has flipped the situation and made the protagonist of the funny story an inhabitant of Trento, the efficient and hardworking location in the landlocked mountainous region of Trentino Alto Adige.
Upon arrival in the country, which has been part of the European Union since 1st May 2004, the visitor is likely to be catapulted into an another world, which has little in common with other member states.
Roadworks, broken signs, old cars, boisterous neighbourhoods, a suffocating heat and a laid-back attitude catch the attention of the methodical travel buddy who couldn’t realize how deep the difference between his ventilated and well-finished village was compared to the chaotic and congested Valletta. The journey resembled a comedy in which, on one side were two girls, my friend and I, who appreciated the local welcome, and on the other side, him, who couldn’t believe how a country could furnish such a rough welcome.
His personal black list looked simply marvellous to me as it encompassed all those things which I most appreciate during a journey. I am aware I stand out from the crowd but, to me disorder means poetry, point of departure for creativity and open-mindedness, especially because the original Greek meaning of the world Chaos means to be open.
However, despite spending the first hours of the tour complaining about Malta- which he nicknamed “the bizarre island”, he finally regretted being prejudiced and went back on his word as he could enjoy the journey, the gastronomy, the elegance of the capital, the buzzing night life and crystalline waters.
Why? Well, there are many reasons to visit this tempting home of mixed cultures, and we are going to analyse the most important ones, which will let you enjoy and admire the country’s treasure and the joyful atmosphere.
Arabic Heritage and Primordial Remains Malta
Arabic Heritage and Primordial Remains Malta, the strategically located island has been for many centuries the object of desire of numerous populations suchas the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Arabs and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem and in the end the French and the British all of whom assaulted and colonized the 100 miles coastline including the nearby Comino and Gozo island. For this reason, the country can count on a wide range of tourist attractions
Mdina, the ancient capital is pervaded by a dramatic and timeless atmosphere. In the picturesque town, named the City of the Silent, it is possible to breath an ageless atmosphere where Christianity and Islam coexist in a perfect union merging in a triumph of rare beauty. Rabat, the neighbourhood fortress and ancient suburbs of Mdina, is believed to have been St Paul’s residence and catacombs, followed by those of St Agatha, which represent the most important attractions.
Hagar Qim and Mnajdra megalithic temple are one of the most visited locations. Both fascinating and mysterious archaeological sites are perfectly aligned with the sun during equinox and date from between 3600 and 3100 BC, before Stonehenge which was constructed between 3000 and 2000 BC. Researchers believe that they were built for religious purposes. A tour of Malta must include a visit to the Unesco-world-heritage Valletta, whose baroque elegance and distinguished churches, especially the one dedicated to St Paul, will not be forgotten very soon. Last but not least, how could it be possible to not mention The Three Cities, Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua which offer a stunning panorama and an evocative atmosphere with their quaint alleys and lively ports.
Blue Water Mirror and Tasty Dainties
The best seasons to visit the tiny archipelago are spring and autumn, especially if you are planning to alternate beach life and cultural tours and, above all, if you are looking for restful holidays which do not result in a fight to rent a beach umbrella. From Comino, to Gozo and from the Blue Grotto to Armier Bay, beaches are literally assaulted by bathers in need of refreshment. Speedboat shuttles, pontoons and ferry-boats provide a daily service to reach arguably the most beautiful beach in Malta: The blue lagoon famous for its sandy-white shining seabed. Don’t forget that also the sea bottom is worth a visit. Inform yourself at the tourist office in Valletta to reserve a cruise tour that generally provides snorkelling equipment and on-board facilities. Blue Grotto is also a must-see Daily cruises are the only public means of transport to fully admire this real corner of paradise. Generally, the 30-minute tour includes the visit of the caves especially the most famous ones called the Honeymoon and the view of the well-known enormous natural arch excavated in the rocks.
At the opposite side of the island, Marsaxlokk excels among the loveliest destinations. It is a quiet traditional fishing village, famous for the moored multi-coloured wood craft called luzzu, whose biorhythm depends on the warmth and the bright sun as during hot afternoons it’s impossible to see another living soul. Adorable restaurants and cosy bars wait for the sunset to welcome tourists and gourmands and to captivate them with typical rural fish dishes such as Aljotta, the fish soup and Lampuki Pie. However, culinary specialties, which are the result of the long multi-cultural coexistence of various civilizations, are not based only on= fish but also enumerate a long list of meaty main meals such as Rabbit Stew, Bragioli (beef olives). Pastizzi, a puff pastry stuffed with cheese and beans, is a savoury healthy and interesting alternative for quick snacks. The nearby rocky sea-sculpted Saint Peter’s beach is an unmissable destination for brave swimmers and suntan lovers as the contrast of white-glittering cliffs and the cobalt blue deep waters bewitch the eyes and the soul.
The Summery European Rendezvous
Malta represents one of the most popular destinations among youngsters and a cheap alternative to study English compared to the onerous Great Britain, the rainy island. Every summer, a multitude of lively adolescents reaches the country in order to spend their free time at school and to make new friends from all over Europe. Assuming that, coastline localities- especially St Julians and Tas-Sliema – offer an interesting variety of parties, open-air concerts, aperitifs on the beach and social activities which transform the island into a vibrant and constant celebration. For this reason, don’t miss the Pirate Party Boat and cruise accompanied by the moonlight and other fun seekers. Also Valletta, the capital and the city of hundreds of marble stairs, offers a wide range of extemporized open air concerts which allow visitors to enjoy the fresh breeze which rushes through the muggy streets with the cheerfulness of the music.
[divider]Photo Gallery Malta[/divider]
Photos © by Alessia Bottone
[divider]Map of Malta[/divider]