Malta Highlights 1: Valetta & The Three Cities

Sunday, 21 June 2015

I first heard of Malta (and Valetta) back in high school when I was a quizzing geek memorising capital cities. It didn't inspire much more curiosity as I was much more consumed by South America and South East Asia at the time. Malta came back into the picture recently when I started looking a places that we could fly directly to from Edinburgh. A friend a work raved about how wonderful it was how how despite travelling there several times he was yet fully explore the little island. The highs of Scottish summer and a strong urge to travel led to us booking a last minute holiday (or a very long weekend rather) to Malta.  To say that I loved the little country would be an understatement; its heady mixture of Italian, Sicilian, Arab and British influences in a stunning Mediterranean setting completely bowled me over. I am smitten!

I'll start my narrative at the heart of Maltese history, Vittoriosa, Sengelea and Copsicua, collectively known as The Three Cities. They date back to Phoenician times and were the first home within the island for the Knights of St. John. You can get to them by a short boat or bus journey from Valetta. I was surprised by their quietness and authenticity. Unlike Valetta and Sliema which were heaving with tourists, Vittoriosa ( or Birgu as it is locally called) was very quiet on the Saturday afternoon  with the exception of young boys playing ball games on the streets. They are tiny enough that you can easily walk the area in an afternoon and soak in its ambience and history.

Back in Valetta, we did what all tourists do and ticked off 'places to visit'. The most magnificent of these was definitely St. John's Basilica. Valetta was built by the Knight Grandmaster de la Valette as a fortified city to prevent Ottoman invasion. The basilica, austere on the outside and flamboyant on the inside was built as at their main place of worship. The history of the place, and how it evolved its internal appearance over time is fascinating. Incredibly beautiful paintings by Matteo Prati and Carvaggio adorn the ceilings and walls.

Valetta is an easily walkable city. Its multiple cultural and historic influences, especially its much lauded role as an Allied base in World War 2 become very evident as you wander through its main square and narrow streets. There are plenty of great cafes, restaurants and open air performances which further add its appeal.  So small yet so very amazing!

Hope you all had a lovely Sunday and apologies for the few weeks of silence! Ann x

Wearing: Kenzo dress, Toms, Marc Jacobs crossbody bag, Tom Ford sunglasses and Helene Berman sunhat.
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