CNN Travel – A world in three islands on the Mediterranean

In the middle of the Mediterranean Sea lies a small country made up of three inhabited islands and irresistible allure. A cookie-like tan is the dominant color here, thanks to its centuries-old buildings; the water is the bluest of blue, the cuisine is a feast, ancient traditions are still celebrated, and the people are proud but extremely friendly. Welcome to Malta.

Across its three inhabited islands – Malta, Gozo and Comino – you’ll find every sun-soaked aspect of the perfect vacation. There’ll be marveling at prehistoric temples, strolling around spectacular old towns, cooling off in the clear waters of beautiful beaches, and partying the nights away at endless beach bars and clubs. From the capital Valletta to bucolic Gozo, here’s where to get your fill.

Malta itself is the biggest island in the Maltese archipelago, and many visitors see no need to leave it. No wonder – the 95-square-mile (246-square-kilometer) island ticks all the boxes for history, culture, beaches and even nightlife.

Start at Valletta, the Maltese capital since 1571. It’s a city intrinsically linked with the Knights of Malta – a powerful military Catholic order thought to date back to the 11th century (still in existence today, it’s currently headquartered in Rome). Founded upon the orders of Jean de Valette, a grand master who was the Knights’ leader during the victorious Great Siege of 1565 when the Ottoman Empire failed to capture the island after nearly four months of battle, Valletta is an epic-looking city fortress.

Baroque palaces swagger beside quaint restaurant terraces, and lively coffee shops with knockout views occupy the stairs leading from the port to the Old Town. Red telephone booths – a reminder of 150 years of British rule from 1814 to 1964 – stand under Valletta’s trademark carved wooden balconies, painted all colors of the rainbow.

What to see? There are fantastic views of the Grand Harbour and its forts from Upper Barrakka Gardens. St. John’s Co-Cathedral is a mesmerizing monument to the wealth of Knights of Malta with two works by Caravaggio inside: a pensive “St. Jerome” and the “Beheading of St. John the Baptist,” his largest work of art. The National War Museum in Fort St. Elmo recounts Malta’s military history.

Culture here isn’t just ancient, though. The Floriana Granaries – once a storage space for grain, and now Malta’s largest public square – makes for a magical outdoor venue that regularly hosts festivals and concerts of world-famous artists.

To try some local specialties, head to the cozy Cafe Jubilee, which serves mouthwatering stuffat tal-fenek (slow-cooked rabbit, a Maltese favorite), superb ravioli with traditional Gozo cheese, and imqaret: date-filled pastry, often served with ice cream.

Three Cities
Squaring off against Valletta on two peninsulas straddling the Grand Harbour are the so-called Three Cities: Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua, neighboring fortified towns. It was here that, in 1565, the Great Siege of Malta was won, leading to the founding of Valletta – and in fact all three have two names, both pre- and post-siege.

Start with Vittoriosa (also known as Birgu, its pre-siege name), a small fortified town with some of the prettiest streets and churches on the island. Get lost among the winding pathways of the historic core with its colored doors and balconies, and statuettes of the Virgin Mary gracing the facades, windows, and street corners.

Proceed to equally gorgeous Cospicua (AKA Bormia) to admire the docks – overhauled by the Brits in the 19th century – and city gates. Finally, cross the harbor to Senglea (l’Isla) for a coffee overlooking the water and Valletta on the other side. DATE Art Café is an ideal choice.

When you leave Senglea, take the traditional dgħajsa boat – a shared wooden water taxi – back to Valletta.

The colorful boats are swaying lazily on gentle waves but the main street is far from calm. It’s Sunday and Marsaxlokk’s fish market is in full swing, gathering the restaurateurs, locals, and tourists from all over the island to buy the fresh catch brought by the local fishermen. This has always been a quiet fishing village on Malta’s southern coast.

Come here for its pretty waterfront (perfect for sunset walks), and a wide array of seafood restaurants whose terraces perch beside the water. As well as Sunday’s fish market, there’s an all-week market for souvenirs and local produce.

You’re here to eat seafood, of course. Choose between klamari mimlija (stuffed squid), grilled lampuki (mahi-mahi), and stuffat tal-qarnit, a delicious octopus stew. Afterwards, have a rest on the rocks – flat and made for sunbathing – at nearby St. Peter’s Pool, a cove with crystal-clear waters.

Blue Grotto
As you’d expect, Malta has natural sights aplenty. Perhaps the most famous is the Blue Grotto, on the island’s southern coast. From a viewpoint above you’ll get panoramic views of this spectacular system of sea caverns with their almost unreal blue waters. Boat trips – leaving from a nearby pier – take you inside.

While the grotto is one of the most popular (and touristy) spots on Malta, the translucent waters – allowing views of up to 16 feet down – make up for the crowds. The boat is also the best way to admire the majestic white cliffs of the surrounding coastline.

Ħaġar Qim
If you’re interested in archaeology and ancient history, you need to make a beeline for the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ħaġar Qim, a megalithic temple complex with sweeping views over the sea – just a few minutes’ drive from the Blue Grotto. Dating back as far as 3,600 BCE, it’s several thousand years older than the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge, and one of the oldest religious buildings on the planet. The main temple – which you can walk through, as they did all those years ago – is surrounded by three other megalithic structures. A five minute walk away is another temple, that of Mnajdra – another of the seven temples protected under that UNESCO listing.

So you want to see the real Malta, but you’re also partial to resort towns. The solution: Marsaskala, towards the southeastern tip of Malta island. Its harbor is among the most scenic on the island, the seafront promenade is ideal for contemplative walks or scenic runs, and the center is dotted with pubs, bars, restaurants and takeaways.

The real beauty of Marsaskala, however, is that it’s more affordable and less glamorous than the better known resort towns of St. Julian’s or Sliema. Just south of the town is the beautiful St. Thomas Bay, where you can have a swim. It’s extremely family-friendly, with a children’s playground, picnic tables and shower. It even caters for both sand and rocky beach lovers, with limestone rocks on one part, and a sandy beach the other.

Time stands still in Mdina. The medieval capital of Malta, it wears its former status with grace, mesmerizing with a kaleidoscope of palazzos, shaded little squares, elegant fortifications and bougainvillea-covered facades. Today, its strategic position in the center of the island is less crucial for defense possibilities – it’s more about those photogenic 360-degree views.

Today Mdina resembles an open-air museum rather than a full city – only 300 people live inside the ancient walls. But it’s one of Malta’s most evocative places, and an essential stop to get a history fix.

See the fantastic baroque interior of St Paul’s Cathedral, get to Bastion Square for the observation tower on top of a bastion on the city walls – it offers fantastic views of the island. Don’t miss the 18th-century Palazzo Vilhena, home to Malta’s National Museum of Natural History.

Just outside the city walls is a small bar named Crystal Palace serving pastizz, a classic Maltese street snack in the shape of savory pastry with various fillings. Try the ones with ricotta cheese or mushy peas. Or, better, try both.

The Romans also left their mark in Malta and Mdina bears signs of their presence. St. Paul’s and St. Agata’s catacombs give Rome’s catacombs a run for their money. Meanwhile, Domvs Romana is a museum on the site of an ancient villa, displaying items from the home, including mosaics.

Once a popular residence for wealthy Maltese and the British, who built many Victorian and Art Nouveau villas here, today Sliema – just north of Valletta – is the commercial heart of Malta with international offices, shopping malls, never-ending restaurants and bars, and high residential complexes. For the Maltese, it’s a love-it-or-hate-it kind of place with controversy surrounding its rapid development. For tourists, it’s a good place to base yourselves if you want to be close to everything but hyper-connected.

The promenade is home to beach bars, plenty of spots to take a dip, and knockout views of Valletta, while “party boats” leave nightly from the harbor.

You may have heard about Malta as an island of wild nightlife. Well, that’s Paceville, located in St Julian’s, the next harbor town after Sliema, heading north from Valletta. Less glamorous than Ibiza or Mykonos, it’s a loud and rowdy party area, reaching its bombastic crescendo in the triangle formed by Paceville Piazza, Santa Rita, and St. George’s Road. There’s lots of booze, screaming crowds, noisy pumping music, and late-night snacks and hookah bars. Be prepared to stand in long lines at nightclub entrances – and be prepared to find not much space inside.

Mellieħa Bay and St. Paul’s Bay
If exploring from the comfort of a resort is something you’re looking forward to, then Mellieħa Bay and St. Paul’s Bay fit the bill. At the northern tip of Malta, closer to Comino than to Valletta, they both have a wide selection of hotels big and small, affordable and upscale, with swimming pools and without.

Għadira Bay in Mellieħa is a long and shallow sandy beach that’s perfect for families. Mellieħa village, located above the bay, has a more remote, more local feel to it thanks to its hilltop location.

Over in St. Paul’s Bay, Bugibba is a classic seaside resort town with fast food chains, a kaleidoscope of bars and restaurants, a promenade and even an aquarium. Qawra Point Beach on the northeastern tip of Bugibba, allows you to take a plunge with views of Malta’s rocky northern coast.

Before being a filming location for “Game of Thrones,” “Troy,” “Assassin’s Creed” and the most recent “Jurassic World Dominion,” Malta stood as a background to the 1980 Robin Williams-led musical “Popeye.” While the movie itself didn’t fare that well, either at the box office or with critics, its set remained near Mellieħa and was turned into an entertaining family theme park.

Gozo and Victoria
The second-biggest island of the Maltese archipelago, laidback Gozo fills in the blanks that Malta left. Getting there is straightforward – regular ferries go from Ċirkewwa on Malta’s northern tip to Gozo where life is slower, nature is wilder, and the atmosphere is more relaxing.

Victoria, the capital, gives Mdina and the Three Cities a run for their money. Start your visit with the magnificent, high-up Cittadella – an ancient walled city with a well-preserved historic core and mindblowing views of the island. Descend to charming Victoria – it’s buzzing with life, with restaurant terraces spilling out onto shaded piazzas and traditional Maltese buff-colored streets. Choose a cafe, order gelato, and forget about the hassle of city life. Gozo is great for that.

It’s even better for going diving, with several world-class locations around the island. The Blue Hole, on the west coast, is a 50-foot deep tube-like rock formation filled by the sea, with an archway and cave at its bottom – pass under the arch and you’ll be in the open sea. It’s a truly mesmerizing dive.

Dwejra Bay, where it’s located, is part of an epic coastline dominated by high cliffs, with the stunning Fungus Rock rising up from the sea. The scenery may ring a bell for “Game of Thrones” fans. Daenerys and Khal Drogo’s Dothraki wedding was filmed here, in front of the Azure Window – a fragile limestone arch straddling the sea. Sadly, the arch collapsed in 2017. Now, you can only see the remains of it by diving.

Imagine a building that is 5,500 years old. In the quiet Ix-Xagħra village in the heart of Gozo you’ll find Ġgantija, a spellbinding complex of two prehistoric megalithic temples, and another site given World Heritage Status by UNESCO. Believed to be important ceremonial sites for Neolithic people, they sprawl over a whopping 77,000 square feet. There’s also an interactive museum to give you more information about their usage and ancient appearance.

Despite the passing of all the centuries, it’s still a calm, meditative place. Archaeologists have spent decades researching them, and have yet to discover exactly how they were used. Animal remains found on site point towards sacrifices, while the abundance of exaggeratedly voluptuous feminine figurines suggests a fertility cult.

If Malta is the urban island and Gozo its lowkey sibling, Comino is the wild cousin. The population is a modest two people, there are no cars, and no signs of globalization – just the untouched Mediterranean. Most visitors come for the Blue Lagoon – a shimmering, shallow bay whose water is an almost unreal azure color.

But while other visitors go straight back to the main islands, you should stay on Comino. Just a mile away is the 17th-century St. Mary’s Tower, one of the defensive structures erected by the Knights of Malta to signal the enemy’s approach with cannon fire – the Comino Channel was a strategic waterway between Malta and Gozo.

For beaches, you need Santa Marija Bay and San Niklaw Bay, both within a mile of both Blue Lagoon and St. Mary’s Tower. Thoroughly rested, hike up Ġebel Comino, the highest point on the island – although at around 275 feet, it’s not exactly high, it has beautiful views of all the islands. For snorkeling, try Cominotto, a tiny island right next to Comino.

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Renowned Chef Francesco Mazzei to serve up Italian classics at Villa Corinthia this summer

Corinthia Hotels Limited on Monday announced that Villa Corinthia, the restaurant at Corinthia Palace in Attard, will be taken over by renowned Italian Chef Francesco Mazzei in June.

The culinary expert will be bringing a taste of Southern Italy to the restaurant up until autumn, serving a menu of some Italian classics together with a number of signature favourites.

The announcement comes just a few weeks after the restaurant closed for refurbishment, and is set to reopen at the start of June.

Mr Mazzei was brought up with a deep-rooted passion for food, being a regular presence in the family kitchen. His first experience in the culinary world was when he worked at his uncle’s gelateria where he mastered Italian cakes and gelato by the age of nine, before taking on his first chef role at the age of 14. Over the years, he has been recognised as “one of the great Italian chefs”, having worked in five-star hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants across Europe, Asia, the United States, and the Middle East.

Commenting on the news, Mr Mazzei said: “Spending time in Malta has been a goal of mine for several years, given its rich history and proximity to Italy.” “Partnering with the iconic Corinthia Palace is a very exciting project,” he added.

The menu will contain a selection of “colourful antipasti, a fritto misto featuring seafood and seasonal vegetables from the Maltese shores and soil, and a show-stopping Orecchia di elefante”. The dishes will be rooted in Italian tradition and flavours, yet Mr Mazzei and his team will also draw inspiration from local seasonal produce to create a “memorable and modern dining experience”, Corinthia Palace’s management remarked.

Corinthia Palace first started out as a restaurant, opened in 1962, in a century-old restored country villa. The hotel was constructed in the villa’s gardens just some years later, and was inaugurated as Corinthia Hotels Limited’s first hotel in 1968. The hotel contains 147 rooms, and boasts dining, meetings and spa facilities to complement its accommodation offering.

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What’s on in Malta and Gozo this week: May 15 to 21

Check out the highlights of events taking place on the Maltese islands in the coming days, in the Music, Film, Visual Art and Miscellaneous categories, by The Times of Malta:

Festival of Lights – Cittadella

Experience the enchanting beauty of Gozo like never before at Lejl Imkebbes, the annual festival of lights in the historic city of Cittadella. Hosted in collaboration with the Ministry of Gozo and Cultural Heritage Directorate, this event promises an unforgettable evening for all visitors.

As you stroll through the narrow streets of Cittadella, you’ll be surrounded by the soft glow of over 30,000 candles in all shapes and sizes. Additionally, carefully decorated artefacts will be set around the fortified city. The magical atmosphere created by the flickering lights offers a breathtaking 360-degree panorama of Gozo’s hills, valleys, villages, and churches, as well as a stunning view across the sea to Malta.

The festival offers a range of activities for everyone to enjoy, including historic re-enactments, extended and discounted museum entrances, opening of other public venues of interest, live entertainment on stage and around the city, together with children’s activities.

So mark your calendars for Saturday, 20th May, from 6 pm onwards and join us for this captivating event. Admission is free, so bring your friends and family for a night to remember.

Visit the event page here:
Valletta Green Festival turns St George’s Square into a garden trail

One of the capital’s largest open spaces has been adorned with colourful flowers and evergreen trees as the Valletta Green Festival begins. The popular festival at St George’s Square will continue until Sunday.

In previous years, the large open space in front of the President’s Palace would showcase a large flower display, usually depicting an animal, but this year trees and plants create a trail, for people to walk around and enjoy.

The temporary garden showcases over 18,000 trees and flowers, including pink, red and yellow Hydrangea flowers and large white Viburnum plants.

This will be the 10th edition of the Valletta Green Festival, which Valletta Cultural Agency chair Jason Micallef said is the largest so far.

“We are aware that Valletta lacks green lungs, so we transformed this large open space into a garden of dreams,” Micallef said.

He said while the garden can not become permanent due to the number of national activities that take place in the square, he said that the benefits of such an open green space can already be seen.

People were seen walking around the garden, taking pictures and sitting on the benches enjoying the greenery.

A drum band entertained people of all ages at the opening ceremony.

Micallef said the Agency makes an effort to be environmentally conscious in its activities.

“My word of advice to authorities, especially local councils, is that we can do so much more to make our open spaces, no matter the size, more green,” he said.

On Wednesday, the festival will host several stands for environmental entities such as Ambjent Malta, ERA, Project Green and others.

There will also be an eco-market along Old Theatre Street selling Maltese organic produce over the weekend.

The plants were provided by Derek Garden Centre, and at the end, leftover flowers will be distributed to the general public and local councils.

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Mosta Oratory Being Restored From WW2 Damage

Restoration work on the façade of the Oratory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mosta began in August 2022, and are expected to be completed by the end of May 2023. The Restoration Directorate were responsible for this project, from the documentation to the work on the Oratory itself.

The Oratory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was completed in 1935 and inaugurated in 1940, based on the design of architect Nettu Mifsud Ellul. During World War II, a bomb fell in the square in front of the chapel, causing some damage to its façade, which can still be seen today.

Mosta mayor Chris Grech noted how Mosta has changed over the years from an agricultural village to a large residential city and an important commercial centre.

“We cannot make the advances we have achieved without appreciating the legacy left to us by our predecessors, Sacred Heart of Jesus in Mosta is a cradle of civic, religious, dramatic and sporting culture for the whole generations of ‘young people and adolescents. For them the Oratory was their second home”.  Concluded the Mayor.

Read the full article here:


Underground Malta as it’s never been seen before

Photographer Daniel Cilia explores Malta’s water reservoirs for new book. Daniel Cilia waded through toxic sewers and scuba-dived into water reservoirs for a new book, 8000 Years of Water. He tells Daniel Tihn the stories behind six photographs that show a side of Malta never seen before.

Tas-Silġ reservoir, Marsaxlokk
“This had never been photographed before,” Daniel Cilia said about his venture into the Tas-Silġ reservoir. Although the site had been scanned by a floating drone while the reservoir was full of water, “nobody had actually gone down there”.
Cilia and his partner Louise Calleja – who helped with many of the book’s photographs – had to be lowered by crane into the dry reservoir along with all the heavy and expensive equipment. “That gives you that kind of excitement. You say, ‘Oh my God, I’m somewhere where nobody’s been for a lot of years.” The photo had to be taken during the summer months as the hot period left the reservoir dry and, therefore, explorable. “Some places you would like to have some water, but in some others, like this, it’s not safe to go down there with water because there could be holes. In fact, in many places we used walking sticks so, if there’s a hole, you can feel it before you put your foot.”

Għar Ħarq Ħammiem, St Julian’s
“The challenge in Għar Ħarq Ħammiem was to light up the whole cave, which is above water, but also light up underwater in one photograph,” Cilia said. In Għar Ħarq Ħammiem, this meant first finding a vantage point on rocks that fell “thousands of years ago, if not millions.” With the tripod set up, Cilia set about lighting the cave, a problem with two solutions. He could either take a series of photos, lighting each one accordingly and then stitch them together into a 180° panorama, or he could take a single shot with a long exposure time and go around the cave with a torch to light everything.
Cilia went for the first option, taking a panorama made up of eight photographs, which meant that the photo could be captured without using a fisheye lens, a lens “I personally hate,” he said. This lens distorts light to capture a wider image at the price of an alien look, bending the edges to create a rounded aesthetic. “The result is very unnatural, it’s something we never get to see with our own eyes. I like doing photography which is like if you are standing in the place where I am so people see the same thing that I’m seeing”. To show the scale of the cave, he placed people in the image so that viewers could “realise immediately the size of the place.”

Fort St Elmo, Valletta
One of “the most amazing experiences” the photography couple had was when they were taken down into an extremely large reservoir under Fort St Elmo in Valletta, lit only by tiny holes in the roof. “When I saw it for the first time, I was like: ‘How am I going to light this?’” The answer: an inflatable kayak. Cilia, like in a few other photos in the book, took the kayak into the reservoir for a “reconnaissance” to figure out how to light the photo and check if there are any issues such as oxygen levels.
In the book, however, the photos look extremely well-lit which does not convey the reality of how dark the capital’s cavern was. “To go with a kayak and you hear the echo of the water, you have a depth of about five metres under you, you look up and see these wonderful, vaulted roofs that the knights built… it’s an experience in itself.” One of the many hidden and unexplored gems in the book, few know of the historical structure’s existence. “I had photographed Fort St Elmo many times, but I had never seen this place before.”

Fort Madliena, Swieqi
Now a headquarters for the St John Rescue Corps, the newly-restored Fort Madliena was a unique experience for Cilia. He had wanted to photograph the reservoir for months but was denied access due to silt leading to possible injuries. The opportunity arose, but with terrible timing. His partner was in hospital undergoing surgery when Cilia received a call from the Rescue Corps telling him that rain had shifted some silt to allow for a quick photograph. As the book was days away from being printed, Cilia decided to grasp the chance for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “At the end of the day, Louise is in the operating theatre, she’s not going to know whether I’m out here or not so I ran home, got the equipment […] and went there, did the photograph, got it into the book, went back to the hospital in time, and by the time Louise came up I said: ‘I wasn’t here all the time!’ “It’s one of those stories that I’ll remember for all my life.”

Drainage tunnel, Fgura
Photographing drainage tunnels introduced more problems to the ever-growing list, Cilia said as he and Calleja had to wear goggles, oxygen canisters and special suits to avoid toxic gasses. “There is, obviously, the smell which is connected to any kind of drainage, but because of that smell you end up not smelling the gas that is very dangerous. “It knocks you out and you are dead within minutes” – a scenario that sadly played out some 22 years ago when three public works department employees succumbed to the poisonous gas.
An experienced scuba diver, Cilia knew how to use the oxygen tanks as the couple explored the waste-filled catacombs with closed masks. “You are actually walking in sh**, but you don’t smell anything because you are taking oxygen,” he said.

Nigret, Żurrieq
One of the stunning photographs in the book was taken with a smartphone, chosen because it is waterproof and easily portable while diving. The shot shows the Nigret drinking water reservoir which is near a playing field so wind tends to carry a lot of rubbish into it. When this happens, a scuba diver is asked to plunge into the fresh pool to clean it up and on one occasion, Cilia joined to observe from behind the lens. Before going in, Cilia had to clean himself thoroughly as the water is drinkable.
Also a panoramic, five photos were stitched together vertically to include the diver deep in the reservoir’s water while simultaneously showing off the ceiling’s architecture. “It was quite an experience.”

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Verso l’estate: le location più instagrammabili di Malta

A meno di due ore di volo dall’Italia, l’arcipelago maltese vi aspetta per una vacanza indimenticabile!

Se siete anche pronti a fare il grande passo, e volete chiedere ufficialmente di suggellare il vostro amore con una proposta di matrimonio indimenticabile, eccovi una lista di alcuni tra i luoghi più adatti a Malta dove rendere speciale la vostra promessa d’amore.

Soprattutto in primavera l’atmosfera dell’isola è tranquilla: il mare diffonde i raggi del sole, le insenature della costa accolgono le barche che cercano un rifugio appartato, le spiagge di sabbia tiepida si infiammano di tramonti infuocati e i vicoli dei pittoreschi centri storici sono pronte per passeggiate ideali per incorniciare momenti emozionanti, come una proposta di matrimonio. Ecco 10 suggerimenti di location perfette.

Crociera in Dhajsa – Queste tipiche imbarcazioni maltesi ricordano le gondole veneziane, ma servono a muoversi all’interno del grande porto monumentale della capitale Valletta. Complice il tramonto, è possibile organizzare una crociera intima che vi porti ai piedi di alcuni maestosi monumenti che si affacciano sul grande fiordo che costituisce il Grand Harbour, come Forte Sant’Angelo alla base del quale si trova una spiaggetta isolata.

Gardjola a Senglea – Una piccola torre di avvistamento incastonata tra le mura fortificate che circondano la città di Vittoriosa, conosciuta anche con il nome di Senglea. Dalle sue feritoie affacciate sul mare si gode una vista straordinaria. Un luogo tranquillo quanto suggestivo dove offrire al vostro amore la promessa di cura e protezione, proprio come quella che offrivano alla città gli imponenti bastioni su cui si trova la Gardjola.

Scogliere di Dingli – Sono il punto più alto di tutta l’isola di Malta. Qui la roccia si affaccia in mare gettandosi per 250 metri. Al volger della sera questo angolo dell’isola regala sempre avvolgenti tramonti. I sentieri, che percorrono le scogliere, sono circondati dalla quiete della campagna e, prospicente sul punto panoramico più celebre dell’area, si trova una piccola quanto pittoresca cappella che sovrasta il panorama.

I giardini San Anton – Ad Attard, un grazioso villaggio dell’entroterra maltese, si trova il palazzo dove risiede il Presidente della Repubblica di Malta. A circondare il palazzo di grandi mattoni color del miele, un rigoglioso giardino all’inglese risalente alla metà del 1600. Il giardino è chiuso da mura di cinta, ma vi si accede liberamente. Costellato di piccole serre, aiuole rocciose fiorite, alberi di frutta e ad alto fusto, laghetti e fontane, questo luogo incantato cela anche una piccola cappella riccamente affrescata.

Mdina by night – L’antica capitale maltese che di giorno è diventata una tappa fissa degli itinerari turistici, la sera si svuota per rivelarsi in tutto il suo romanticismo. I vicoli silenziosi si snodano attorno i palazzi nobiliari fino a portare sulle grandi mura che circondano la cittadina e da cui ammirare la vista di tutta l’isola. A Mdina si trova anche uno dei ristoranti stellati più eleganti di Malta, cornice ideale per una serata perfetta.

Ghajn Tuffieha – Questa è una delle spiagge sabbiose più belle di Malta e si trova a nord dell’isola, collocata in una baia tondeggiante riparata da due promontori rocciosi. Da qui si avvistano tramonti di fuoco che vi suggeriamo di ammirare accoccolati su un plaid.

Saline di Xwejni – Le antiche saline di Gozo risalgono all’epoca romana e sono tutt’ora in uso. Naturalmente affacciate sul mare, sono caratterizzate da un paesaggio che ricorda un po’ il profilo della Luna. Il consiglio è di organizzare qui un pic nic serale per aspettare anche il sorgere della Luna in cielo.

Mixta Cave a Gozo – Un superlativo affaccio sulla grande spiaggia di sabbia rossa di Ramla e sul mare che circonda l’isola di Gozo. Questa caverna è posta sul fianco di un colle e concede all’improvviso il brivido di un emozionante panorama.

Comino – Comino la si raggiunge in barca. Per un’escursione ad alto tasso di romanticismo, suggeriamo di noleggiare uno yacht o una barca a vela privati, per cenare in una delle baie e, se le temperature già lo concedono, un tuffo in quelle acque turchesi immortalate in numerosi film per la loro strepitosa trasparenza.

Immersione di coppia – Il silenzioso abbraccio dell’acqua tiepida di Malta è ciò che vi aspetta decidendo di immergervi attorno l’arcipelago. Mete amatissime dai diver di tutto il mondo, Malta, Gozo e Comino offrono anche numerosi relitti sottomarini da esplorare in coppia.

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The Westin Dragonara Resort Malta Announces Its New Heated Open-Air Pool

The gateway to luxury in Malta, is thrilled to announce the completion of a sustainable friendly project whereby the hotel’s main outdoor swimming pool now features year-round heated fresh water.

With its state-of-the-art water heating system, the Dragonara’s open-air pool can maintain a comfortable temperature no matter the weather outside!

This means that guests can enjoy an invigorating swim or a relaxing soak in the water, even on the coldest of days.

It also offers a generous swimming area that can accommodate both proficient swimmers and families looking to have fun. A spacious deck area for sunbathing and relaxation and kid-friendly features, including a shallow area and accessible design. Also includes access for wheelchair users.

“We are excited to be able to offer this new heated outdoor swimming pool to our guests. Whether our guests are after a pool to exercise in, have fun with family, or simply bask under the sun, our Bay View pool has something for everyone,” said Michael Camilleri Kamsky, General Manager of The Westin Dragonara.

“We are consistently investing in upgrading our offerings thereby delivering elevated experiences. This new development, which is unique in the five star offering in Malta, will allow our guests to enjoy year-round outdoor swimming,” he said.

Standing apart on a natural peninsula fringed by the sea, The Westin Dragonara Resort, Malta brings warm-hearted, luxurious Mediterranean living to a vibrant, historic island. A jewel of the Mediterranean, it is where fabled dragons roar, giving the peninsula and property their distinctive name.

Maximising on its exclusive and enduring appeal, the property has an enviable beachside position and is accessed via private gateway, inscribed with Virgil’s thoughtful proverb, “God made this gem for us”.

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Il Barocco maltese, tra architettura e musica


A gennaio l’arcipelago di Malta celebra la sua identità barocca. Per tutto il mese, ormai da dieci anni a questa parte, Valletta accoglie infatti un programma di eventi diffusi negli spazi più emblematici della città, dall’Auberge de Provence al Gran Salon alla Concattedrale di San Giovanni al Teatru Manoel. Sotto la direzione artistica di Kenneth Zammit Tabona, il calendario del Valletta Baroque Festival (che si è appena concluso) attira estimatori della musica classica da tutto il mondo, proponendo concerti dedicati ad autori di musica barocca (da Bach a Handel a Mozart e Scarlatti), ma anche coinvolgenti ibridazioni di epoche e stili, dal Vivaldi interpretato in chiave rock ai Beatles letti alla maniera settecentesca. Ma un contributo fondamentale al successo della kermesse arriva proprio dalle ambientazioni che fanno da cornice agli spettacoli, tra stucchi dorati, ampollose decorazioni, sculture ed espedienti architettonici di grande impatto scenografico. Per questo, ben oltre la chiusura del festival, è sempre un buon momento per esplorare Valletta e l’arcipelago maltese in cerca del suo passato barocco.

Prima dell’introduzione del Barocco a Malta, lo stile architettonico predominante sull’isola si rifaceva agli esiti manieristi dell’epoca rinascimentale, attraverso l’attività del più quotato architetto pubblico locale, Girolamo Cassar, che progettò molti edifici pubblici, privati ​​e religiosi nella capitale di Valletta, che al tempo si andava costruendo. Tra XVII se XVIII secolo, però, sotto il dominio dell’Ordine di San Giovanni, iniziò a imporsi il nuovo gusto che già aveva conquistato in buona parte l’area mediterranea e l’Europa continentale. Il cambio di passo è tradizionalmente associato alla figura dell’ingegnere bolognese Bontadino de Bontadini, incaricato di costruire l’acquedotto di Wignacourt all’inizio del Seicento: tra 1612 e 1615, Bontadini realizzò un impianto scenografico pienamente aderente alla ricerca di stupore e meraviglia caratteristica del nuovo approccio estetico, tra torri d’acqua, fontane e un magnifico arco. Lo stile divenne popolare tra la metà e la fine del XVII secolo (del 1635 è la Chiesa dei Gesuiti di Francesco Buonamici, altro “testo” ritenuto cruciale per la diffusione dello stile a Valletta) e raggiunse il suo apice nel corso del Settecento, a cui si lega la realizzazione di opere monumentali come l’Auberge de Castille. All’inizio dell’Ottocento, durante il dominio britannico, l’architettura neoclassica sarebbe riuscita a imporsi sulla stagione barocca, capace però di protrarre la sua influenza fino al Novecento, come dimostrano alcuni edifici religiosi commissionati tra XIX e XX secolo, ancora legati a stilemi ascrivibili al gusto settecentesco.

A Malta, il Barocco di grandiose cupole e facciate riccamente decorate, pur contenuto nello sfarzo e votato alla sobrietà, fu esemplato principalmente su modelli italiani e francesi – tra le opere seicentesche si annoverano anche la ristrutturazione dell’Auberge de Provence e l’Hostelin de Verdelin – anche se non mancano riferimenti alla corrente spagnola. Oggi un tour di riscoperta di quella che per l’architettura – principalmente religiosa – di Malta è stata un’epoca d’oro può iniziare dai progetti firmati da Lorenzo Gafà, che nella seconda metà del XVII secolo fu incaricato di guidare molti cantieri sull’isola: il più ambizioso lo vide all’opera per la ricostruzione, tra il 1696 e il 1705, della Cattedrale di San Paolo a Mdina, danneggiata nella sua struttura medievale durante il terremoto siciliano del ’93. Ma Gafà lavorò anche altrove, realizzando la Chiesa di San Lorenzo a Birgu (1681-97; in città ha sembianze barocche anche il Palazzo dell’Inquisitore, oggi Museo Popolare) e la Cattedrale dell’Assunzione a Victoria, sull’isola di Gozo (1697-1711). Nel frattempo anche numerosi artisti furono coinvolti nella ridecorazione di edifici già esistenti: a Valletta, la Concattedrale di San Giovanni, dove ancora oggi si apprezza il ciclo di opere pittoriche realizzato da Mattia Preti negli Anni Sessanta del XVII secolo.
Il passaggio al Settecento fu però segnato principalmente dai lavori di ricostruzione che si resero necessari dopo il devastante terremoto di cui sopra. E fu la città vecchia di Mdina a subire l’evoluzione più significativa: il programma di riassetto urbanistico, che determinò la demolizione di edifici medievali danneggiati e la nascita di nuove opere pubbliche, si espletò durante la reggenza del Gran Maestro António Manoel a partire dal 1722, sotto la direzione di Charles François de Mondion. La Mdina odierna, antica capitale dell’isola, colpisce per la magniloquenza del progetto dell’epoca, ispirato al Barocco francese, tra la Porta Principale (1724) e il portale della Porta dei Greci (1724), la Torre dello Standardo (1725), il Palazzo Vilhena (1726-28) e la Corte Capitanale (1726-28). Tornando a Valletta, data alla seconda metà del XVIII secolo un edificio simbolo della città come l’Auberge de Castille, progettato dall’architetto maltese Andrea Belli, con il portale d’ingresso introdotto da una teoria di gradini e incorniciato dalla monumentale facciata scandita da paraste e chiusa in alto da una cornice aggettante. Oggi il palazzo è la sede del Primo Ministro di Malta. C’è poi il Teatru Manoel, inaugurato nel 1732, con scalinate in marmo e stucchi in stile Rococò. In omaggio al legame con la cultura barocca, persino uno dei più recenti cantieri di architettura religiosa, che nel 2005 ha portato all’inaugurazione della chiesa parrocchiale di Santa Venera, è stato improntato allo stile dell’epoca, com’è evidente nella decorazione della facciata.

L’eco di questo gusto contagiò anche Gozo, dove, come già ricordato, fu al lavoro anche Lorenzo Gafà, per realizzare la Cattedrale dell’Assunzione a Victoria, sul luogo dove si trovava un tempio dedicato a Giunone, di cui ancora si ammirano i capitelli conservati nel vicino Museo della Cattedrale. Forte la somiglianza con la cattedrale di Mdina, la chiesa di Gozo si distingue per l’unico alto campanile che svetta sul retro e per il soffitto che finge l’esistenza di una cupola, dipinta in trompe l’oeil. A Victoria si visita anche la coeva Basilica di San Giorgio, ricostruita dopo il terremoto della Val di Noto, celebre per la facciata completamente rivestita in marmo e per il ricco corredo di opere d’arte (torna, tra gli altri, Mattia Preti) custodito all’interno.

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Let's go that extra mile!