We’re already in the third month of the year, and you know what that means… We’re a month closer to summer, a much-loved season by locals and visitors alike! Our Mediterranean archipelago will likely leave tourists spellbound with the cultural richness Malta and Gozo have to offer.
So, what does one do when they have a few days off to spare and want to savour the beauty of our gorgeous islands?
1. Make a GRAND entrance – 5p.m.
Valletta – Malta’s capital city, is in the limelight. Replete with palazzos and churches, the fairy-tale city recently celebrated its 450th birthday and will be a European Capital of Culture next year. With its stony splendour, the architect Renzo Piano designed two structures that form a dramatic primer to Valletta.
With its gigantic, boxlike, asymmetrical stone entrance that unlocks onto the adjacent new parliament. The monumental serrated edifices, elevated from the ground by slim columns and sheltered in coarse panes like flowing waves. Tour the buildings and go down the stone staircase alongside to enjoy their fluctuating shapes. At the top, you will find a cultural hub known for hosting exhibitions and recitals is St. James Cavalier.
2. Green and blue, 6p.m.
While absorbing the scenic view from the Upper Barrakka Gardens, a lovely green space of palms, plants and stone arches overseeing the main harbour. Diagonally one can see centuries-old bastions like Fort St. Angelo and Fort Ricasoli – sites that were used in countless Hollywood productions and the deep blue Mediterranean.
3. Sister pact, 8p.m.
Built in the 16th-century, this palazzo is adorned with stone columns, gold-plated mirrors and chandeliers. And while it might sound a tad pretentious, Palazzo Preca is run by two Maltese sisters from a family of renowned restaurateurs, defies expectations. Enjoy this environment where you will instantly feel a mood is as laid-back as the ambience is stunning.
4. Strait and narrow, 10p.m.
Forget walking straight in Strait Street in the early hours of the morn, owing to the cosy bars inside and close to the slim passage. Pop into one of these bars and enjoy a glass of one of the numerous Maltese or foreign vintage wines.
5. John and Jerome, 9:30a.m.
A half-robed man lies on the floor with blood dripping from his slit neck while a knife-wielding ruffian premeditates the killing. Violently representative, Caravaggio’s “Beheading of St. John the Baptist” (1608) – the Italian painter’s biggest and the only signed canvas – his neighbouring portrait of St. Jerome were painted during the artist’s stay in Malta in the early 1600s. They are the pavilion charms of the stunning St. John’s Co-Cathedral, a mounting barrel-vaulted church, built in the 1570s. The ceiling is painted with passages from the life of St. John, as well as the deity Minerva, trudging upon conquering Moors. Elaborately ornamented flat gravestones sheet the floor, beaming with imageries of angels, vessels, skeletons and other cryptograms.
6. Saint panache, 11a.m.
Shipwrecked on Malta around A.D. 60 on the way to Rome, St. Paul is historically the patron saint of writers. In Valletta, he’s also emerging as the patron saint of style – or at least his namesake street is. Apart from a quaint boutique hotel, St. Paul Street is home to new indie fashion boutiques, a modern haberdashery selling dress shirts and jeans from the Italian brands, together with shaving creams, tie clips and cuff links.
7. An Ode to Sicilian dishes, 1 p.m.
Less than 60 miles away from Malta, it feels even closer when visting restaurants or cafés that pay tribute to this island’s cuisine. This is even more manifest to Sicilian staff. Enjoy ricotta-filled Sicilian desserts and an Italian-Maltese menu in an array of different spots. Check the ice table for various catches of the day – from rockfish, red snapper and sea bass. Better still, dive into other seafood-rich offerings.
8. Ride the tide, 2:30p.m.
Next to the restaurants, why not take a 10-minute ferry ride to the Sliema waterfront. From there, board on the 90-minute scenic “Harbour Cruise” and breathe in the pleasant sea breeze scent. Chugging along Malta’s gravelly coast, you’ll pass huge, centuries-old fortifications and wrecks, caves and gardens, lighthouses and church turrets, miniscule fishing skiffs, massive container vessels.
9. Step out for some fresh air… 9 p.m.
Small, stone-walled, windowless: Many Valletta bars have a dungeon’s feel. Fortunately, you can escape onto the magnificent outdoor staircase-streets outside their doors. Pop into one of the bars that serve up spritzes, prosecco and a selection of cocktails to the friendly crowds who fill the steps outside its door. Around the corner, appreciate the twinkling harbour views…
10. Another day, another palace, noon
Ready for more time travel? Just outside Valletta’s gate, get off at Mdina and enter the walled city that was Malta’s city for epochs before Valletta was constructed. Taking its name from the Arabic word for “city,” Mdina is a labyrinth of enigmatic dividing paths lined by tall walls, iron-banded windows and bleak timber doors. Enter into Palazzo Falson, a manor erected during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, presently a museum of ornate arts. The graceful historical rooms comprise a dining hall with Venetian glassware, a weapon-filled gunroom with veneered firearms, a gallery of Oriental rugs, a soaring library with 4,500 historical volumes and a sitting room panelled with oil paintings.
11. Pews and views, 7p.m.
Sanctified in 1703, St. Paul’s Cathedral is a lavishly shaped religious sanctuary that pays homage to its namesake. Perhaps the Italian Baroque artist Mattia Preti’s two paintings above and behind the altar, are of noteworthy importance. They depict Paul’s conversion on the journey to Damascus and his squally shipwreck on Malta. Almost next door, Palazzo de Piro is a splendid Ornamental manor serving as an annex of Mdina’s near Cathedral Museum. Its beautiful square cafe-bar offers breath-taking views from an upper terrace, making it a sublime spot to enjoy a warm cappuccino or chilled local Cisk beer while taking a ultimate glimpse at the distant city of Valletta.
Indubitably, Malta has a wealth of history and culture, and this is something no one can negate. So it's really no wonder so many foreign people appreciate our islands. Whether you're a local who wishes to savour our islands' gorgeousness, or foreigner visiting Malta, Contact 77 Great Estates today. We’ll help you find the perfect property to call your home away from home! Our estate agents will be glad to guide you in viewing property around Malta and Gozo.
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