Malta’s Roberta Metsola Wins European Parliament President Election

Roberta Metsola has officially won the election to become the next European Parliament President.

Metsola beat out three other candidates in the first round of voting, getting the required 50%+1 majority from all MEPs. Metsola had the support of three of the biggest EU political parties, the EPP, the S&D, and Renew.

She won 458 votes of 616 eligible votes in parliament, winning on the first round of voting.

Lovin Malta is informed that Metsola will give a press conference at 12pm.

Metsola has made history today, by not only becoming the youngest ever President, but by occupying the most important role any Maltese person has had on the international stage.

She will occupy the role for at least another two and a half years.

Who is Roberta Metsola?

Metsola, a major figure within the Nationalist Party, needs little introduction to a Maltese audience.

Metsola got elected to the European Parliament in 2013, ten years after she first got into EU politics, after Simon Busuttil relinquished his MEP post to become leader of the Nationalist Party.

A year later, she retained her seat after winning over 32,000 first-count votes at the next MEP election, making her the PN’s most popular candidate and the second most popular national candidate. She increased that margin by the time 2019 rolled around.

In November 2020, Metsola was elected as First Vice-President of the European Parliament replacing Mairead McGuinness who became European Commissioner.

As an MEP, Metsola has focused heavily on irregular migration, presenting landmark proposals that could make the Mediterranean a safer place for everyone.

Metsola also worked hard to finally address SLAPP lawsuits, which sees powerful figures look to silence journalists and citizens with vexatious multi-million euro law suits. She’s also tackled topics ranging from LGBT+ rights and AI regulation to media freedom and foreign affairs.

What does the European Parliament President do? 

The role of the European Parliament President is similar to that of the Speaker of national parliaments.

Metsola will get to open plenary debates in Strasbourg, sometimes even with her own speech, instruct MEPs when it is their turn to speak, ensure parliamentary procedures are properly followed, direct voting procedures and announce voting results.

Her signature will be required for EU laws and the EU budget to pass.

She will also chair the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament, where presidents of the EP’s political groups convene to draw up the parliament’s agenda.

Metsola will also be given some bureaucratic responsibilities, chairing the Bureau of the European Parliament, which discusses administrative and budgetary issues in collaboration with the 14 Vice-Presidents and five Quaestors.

Most importantly, as president, Metsola will essentially be the face of the Parliament when dealing with the outside world, including discussions with leaders of EU member states, other countries, NGOs and associations and other EU institutions.

She will represent the parliament in all legal matters and at all international fora, including at European Council meetings, where she will deliver the EP’s views to heads of state and government of the EU’s 27 member states, including Malta’s Prime Minister Robert Abela.

This will mean she will be involved in international politics at the highest level.

Article credits: https://lovinmalta.com/ewropej/roberta-metsola-wins-european-parliament-president-election/
Valletta, Malta, Named As The Best European City For Wellness

What does it mean to be well? Our health and well-being rely on a number of factors, including the environment we live in, the exercise we get, and the ability to relax and enjoy the simple things in life. Now, in light of COVID, it seems that we are all seeking to be the healthiest that we can be.

The GAP Jeans Department decided to carry out a study to reveal the wellbeing hotspot of Europe. Obviously, in the hope you would wear your favorite skinny jeans as you comfortably globe-trotted around the world!

The study analyzed 28 capitals of the EU and the UK, investigating several factors that contribute to wellness, with Valletta, Malta named the winner. The criteria included:

· The amount of air pollution in each city
· The percentage of green space in each city
· The number of running clubs in each city per capita (per 100,000 people)
· The number of gyms in each city per capita
· The number of spas in each city per capita
· Google searches for healthy food and snacks in each city per capita
· The hours of sunlight in each city
· Drinking water quality in each city

The analysis dives into each factor, finally measuring a total score to find the best European capital for wellness.

Hitting the top of the charts for wellness is Valletta. The Maltese capital scores 100 on the wellness index thanks to its health and fitness fanaticism. In fact, Valletta achieves high scores across the board, including a large number of running clubs (21), 13 spas, and hours of sunlight.

Brussels and Helsinki took second and third on the index with scores of 88 and 87.

Back to Malta – there is a lot to love. This archipelago located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, has been acclaimed for its luxurious accommodations, warm climate, and 7,000 years of history. A visit to Malta is to immerse oneself in centuries of history while enjoying the very best of modern life and curated experiences to meet each traveler’s personal desires. Malta has been acclaimed for its posh accommodations, including luxury hotels, historic boutique hotels, Palazzos, private villas, and historic farmhouses. You can stay in a restored 16th– or 17th-century palazzo, delight in luxury accommodation built into fortifications of an ancient city, with views across the Grand Harbour, or seek out the character of the many beautiful boutique hotels dotted throughout Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage capital, as well as throughout Malta and its sister island of Gozo.

The Malta Michelin Guide highlights the outstanding restaurants, breadth of cuisine styles, and culinary skills found in Malta, Gozo, and Comino. The winners of the first stars to be awarded in Malta are:

De Mondion – Chef Kevin Bonello
• Noni – Chef Jonathan Brincat
• Under Grain – Chef Victor Borg

In addition to the Michelin starred restaurants, Malta, of course, also offers travelers a diverse culinary experience, from the traditional plate of eclectic Mediterranean food curated by a relationship between the Maltese and the countless civilizations that occupied the island. One can also enjoy gourmet meals cooked by a private local chef at your luxury villa or historic farmhouse in Gozo. Menus are changed frequently according to season, availability, or the chef’s impulse.

Many historic sites can be booked for after-hour private tours.  St. John’s Co-Cathedral Tours is one example. Completed in 1577, The St. John’s Co-Cathedral was designed by Girolamo Cassar, a praised Maltese architect also responsible for building the Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta.

And don’t forget a trip to the vineyards! Now winning accolades in international competitions, Maltese vineyards are renowned in particular for their high-quality boutique wines. Connoisseurs will especially appreciate the indigenous Maltese grapes – the girgentina and the gellewza.

To your health!

Article credits: https://www.forbes.com/sites/debbikickham/2021/12/06/valletta-malta-named-as-the-best-european-city-for-wellness/?sh=7478e40136f1
31 productions were filmed in Malta during the pandemic

The film industry in Malta generated €98 million between March 2020 and December 2021, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Malta Film Commission said on Tuesday.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 31 productions were filmed in Malta.

Film commissioner Johann Grech, speaking at the Malta Film Studios in Kalkara, said recent productions in Malta included feature films, television series, documentaries and reality shows.

Last year, a total of 22 productions took place on the island and generated €68 million for the economy.

He said that a cash rebate scheme managed by the commission had enabled foreign productions to benefit from a rebate of up to 40% of expenditure.

Read the full article here: https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/98-million-generated-by-the-local-film-industry-despite-the-pandemic.927106

 

 

Knights era reservoir found under Valletta ditch

A knights-era water reservoir has been discovered beneath the entrance to St Andrew’s Ditch in Valletta, a few metres down from the Hotel Excelsior.

An opening was discovered by accident on Sunday, and then another was found. Each has a depth of some 7.5m. The structure was found to be one of a number of reservoirs built by the knights for water storage in the fortified city. The structure, however, is in a sorry state with broken slabs and missing arches that have rendered it unsafe and unstable.

The gaping hole that turned out to be the entrance was discovered by architect Ruben Paul Borg who said it appeared dangerous since cars park in the area every day.

The reservoir, although forgotten, had been documented by the British. It had a capacity of 343,000 gallons

Subterranean Valletta has been the focus of recent public attention, with Heritage Malta opening a series of 500-year-old tunnels beneath the city for public viewing.

The tours include another reservoir, right beneath Great Siege Square, that dates back to the 16th century. At the time, owing to a shortage of water, the authorities in the city banned private gardens and required water reservoirs to be built under all houses.

The knights, showing great engineering skills, had built the aqueduct system to carry water from the Rabat area to Valletta, but the system was vulnerable to enemy attacks in uncertain times.

One small freshwater stream does flow into Valletta however. It emerges in the large basement of the Archbishop’s Palace.

Read the full article: https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/knights-era-reservoir-found-under-valletta-ditch.922855

 

New direct routes for Zagreb, Croatia & Parma, Italy

Malta International Airport (MIA) welcomed the first two flights from Zagreb and Parma, which will be operated on Tuesdays and Saturdays throughout winter by Lauda Europe and Malta Air respectively, both of which are part of Ryanair Holdings. While Italy is one of Malta International Airport’s most popular markets, connected by flights to 16 out of its 20 regions, the Zagreb route is the first direct link between Malta and Croatia.

The capital of Croatia is characterised by red-roofed buildings, narrow cobbled streets snaking through the old Upper Town, and grand architecture dating to the times of the Habsburgs dominating the busier Lower Town. While the city brims with charm and activity all year, as Christmas rolls around, Zagreb’s festive attire and renowned street markets heighten its appeal as a winter destination.

By venturing just outside the city, visitors can also enjoy a spot of adventure down one of Mount Medvednica’s five ski runs. Other interesting places which are easily reachable from Zagreb and ideal for a day trip include Plitvice Lakes, which turn into a winter wonderland after snowfall, the sleepy town of Rastoke, and Karlovac where one of Croatia’s top beers is brewed.

While Croatia’s go-to tipple is beer, with the country producing 90% of all beer sold locally, Parma is well known for Lambrusco wine, Parmesan and prosciutto, making it a top destination for artisanal food tours. The time spent sampling Parma’s satisfying delicacies can be balanced with sighteeing tours of the city’s stunning monuments, including the Romanesque Cathedral and the medieval baptistery, both of which boast splendid frescoes, Palazzo della Pilotta, and the wooden Teatro Farnese.

Visitors can discover more of the Emilia-Romagna region by travelling to Bologna and Modena, both of which are a train ride of just under an hour away from Parma. The area between these two cities is often dubbed ‘Motor Valley’ due to a concentration of manufacturers of luxury cars and motorbikes, the likes of Ferrari and Ducati. Travellers who are more impressed by the sounds of opera than the purrs of fast cars will be happy to know that Modena also gave birth to Luciano Pavarotti, where his house has been turned into a museum.

Article credits: https://whoswho.mt/en/malta-international-airport-announces-new-direct-routes-for-zagreb-croatia-parma-italy
Grand Master to be buried in St John’s Co-Cathedral

For the first time in hundreds of years, a Grand Master will be buried in the crypt of St John’s Co-Cathedral, its foundation has said.

Fra’ Matthew Festing will be the 12th Grand Master to be laid to rest in the crypt – the burial place of L’Isle-Adam, who brought the Order of the Knights of St John to Malta in 1530, and La Valette, who won the 1565 Great Siege and founded the city of Valletta.

The 79th Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra’ Festing died, aged 71, after feeling ill in Malta and being hospitalised earlier this month, the Grand Magistry had announced.

He served as Grand Master from 2008 up to his resignation in 2017.

The last Grand Master to be buried in the crypt was Vasconcellos in 1623, although it is understood, despite a lack of documentation, that it is also the resting place, in an unmarked grave, of Ximenez, who died in 1775, said St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation CEO and curator, Cynthia de Giorgio.

The tradition was that the Grand Masters would be buried underground, but from 1623, their remains would be moved to the chapel of their langue in the co-cathedral after a year in the crypt for the “special indulgences it was endowed with”, she said.

Fra’ Festing would be buried in the crypt because he died in Malta, and since he was English, there was no English langue, de Giorgio explained.

“Where else can you bury a Grand Master in Malta?” de Giorgio asked, adding that the decision was taken in agreement with the knights, the archbishop and the prime minister.

A location in the Grand Masters’ Crypt has been found and his burial site prepared, with cultural and cathedral authorities acting fast to identify a space that could accommodate the very tall man.

The last Grand Master to die in Malta was de Rohan in 1797 and he is buried in the Chapel of Provence. Since then, no others have been buried in the co-cathedral, the Order of the Knights of St John having left Malta in 1798.

The last reigning Grand Master was Hompesch, but he had left Malta before he died and was, therefore, not buried here, de Giorgio said.

Fra’ Festing’s funeral will be held on December 3 and Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi, Pope Francis’s special delegate to the Order of Malta, will celebrate the Requiem Mass, while Archbishop Charles Scicluna will concelebrate.

The co-cathedral’s crypt, which was reopened to the public last year, following a €500,000 restoration project that lasted 13 years, was carved out of the rock for underground burial in the 16th century.

It is located beneath the high altar and houses the remains of the 11 Grand Masters who led the Order from 1522 to 1623, including Jean de la Cassière, who commissioned the church that would become St John’s Co-Cathedral.

A descendant of Sir Adrian Fortescue, a Knight of Malta, who was martyred in 1539, Fra’ Festing he led humanitarian aid missions to Kosovo, Serbia and Croatia.

Article credits: https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/grand-master-to-be-buried-in-st-johns-co-cathedral.917539?fbclid=IwAR09D-_F4wRIZg-8GcBJOcrCGAhBEakQSrK2baxwHa4uqwO558KX2gJVmPg
New Malta-Sicily route

The much-anticipated service between Wine Wharf quay in Valletta and Augusta will initially operate five trips a week. Ponte Ferries kick-started its service between Malta and Sicily a few days ago and the itinerary allows for flexible and late departure times to enable passengers to bridge public holidays.

“We’re very appreciative of our clients’ patience and understanding during the past weeks and thank all the parties involved for their continuous support and cooperation to give Ponte Ferries the green light to set sail,” a company spokesman said.

The port of Augusta is located less than five minutes away from the autostrada, giving those wishing to reach or explore areas closer to Catania, Taormina and Syracuse quicker and easier access.

Read the full article: https://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2021-11-18/local-news/Ponte-Ferries-inaugurates-new-Malta-Sicily-route-6736238390
Why are the Maltese so competitive?

There is a competitive nature that courses through Malta so raw and unbridled that it’s written into the skyline of its capital, Valletta, and permeates across all walks of life on the archipelago.

We’re talking about pika – a Maltese word that roughly means ‘a neighbourly rivalry’, but is one of those terms that feels like a fool’s errand when foreigners try to interpret it. Usually, this rivalry involves followers of different saints within the same town – and ranges from benign sportsmanship to premeditated aggression.

Every year, Malta’s festa season, when villages celebrate their patron saints by throwing big feasts, peaks between June and September. At this time, pika summons the islands’ hot-blooded Mediterranean spirit to the fore, as parishes compete in a paradoxically sacrilegious celebration of the sacred. Rivalries have become so intense that festas have had to be partially cancelled, the most recent in 2004, due to the threat of violence.

Year after year, followers of respective patron saints attempt to outspend and outdo their neighbouring parish in a contentious crusade for showmanship that seems truly fit for the descendants of the Knights Hospitaller, the medieval sect of Catholic warriors from Jerusalem that ruled Malta for about 300 years from 1530. To this day, Maltese festa pageantry, artefacts and ornaments take cues from the Baroque style that defined the 17th- and 18th-Century architecture of the Order of St John, such as the hand-held carriage that transports the statue of the saint to the festa’s main stage, and the hand-carved wooden centrepiece for the Sunday feast. In recent years, festas have included competing theatre companies and a new record for hoisting 711 flags in a village.

Band clubs in Malta are also the epicentre of the most competitive forms of pika. Band clubs are volunteer organisations that are found throughout islands. As their name suggests, they are gathering halls for marching bands – a legacy of British military bands – but they’re also social clubs, equipped with bars, pool halls and even a radio station, as well as informal religious links to the church with their own chaplain and chapel.

The size of Malta, the EU’s smallest nation with a population of around 430,000, may offer the best clue as to why rivalries here are so intense.

Read the full article: https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20190107-why-are-the-maltese-so-competitive
Malta, the island welcoming digital nomads

Boasting one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, Malta is now welcoming back visitors safely with cash incentives and a recently launched Nomad Residence Permit.

Malta may be small but its response to the pandemic has been mighty. Once enforcing some of the strictest restrictions in Europe, the country has finally been able to open its borders and welcome back visitors safely, boasting one of the world’s highest vaccination rates.

Nearly 81% of all Malta residents are fully vaccinated. In fact, Malta and Portugal are the only two nations in Europe that have reached a more than 80% vaccination rate across their total population (including teenagers age 12 to 17, who have been eligible to get the vaccine since summer 2021), according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). This makes them two of the only places likely to avoid a winter resurgence says the ECDC director, and among the safest places to travel. Visitors to Malta must be vaccinated themselves if they want to skip a 14-day quarantine.

The country is more than ready to welcome back vaccinated international visitors – especially those looking to take advantage of their company’s new remote work policies. In June 2021, Malta launched their Nomad Residence Permit, which enables visitors to keep their current employment in another country and live in Malta for up to a year (with the opportunity for renewal). Applicants must prove they can work remotely, work for an employer or offer freelance or consulting services and earn at least the equivalent of €2,700 monthly.

The Nomad Residence Permit enables holders to retain their current employment based in another country whilst legally residing in Malta. The Permit is open to individuals who can work remotely and independent of location, using telecommunications technologies.

Malta already hosts and welcomes digital nomads from the EU. This community of entrepreneurial expats make the most of Malta’s island vibes, a nomad lifestyle, business networking opportunities and cultural experiences. The Nomad Residence Permit is open to individuals from third countries, who would normally (but not necessarily) require a Visa to travel to Malta.

The permit will be issued for one year and can be renewed upon application at the discretion of Residency Malta, as long as the applicant still meets the set eligibility criteria. Applicants who are interested in staying for less than a year will be issued with a National Visa for the duration of their stay.

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20211109-malta-the-island-welcoming-digital-nomads
The STAR Journey in partnership with Forbes Travel Guide

During the past months, as tourism travel restrictions started to be lifted, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, the Ministry of Tourism, and the Malta Tourism Authority recognized the need to embark on a coordinated effort to ensure that the Maltese hospitality sector is viewed as adequately safe and prepared to welcome and service the most discerning tourists. Towards this end, a team of experts facilitated by the Mediterranean Tourism Foundation developed the STAR Journey initiative, a comprehensive quality programme which aims to set Malta as an In-Partnership Forbes Travel Guide Destination with a focus on Service Excellence and Safety – a first in the world.

Read the full article: https://winning.training/star-journey
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