Malta wins Lonely Planet’s top destination to unwind award

Global travel authority Lonely Planet has unveiled its top destinations to visit next year with the release of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023, and Malta has been awarded the “Top Destination to Unwind” Award, alongside destinations such as Halkidiki in Greece and Jordan, The Malta Tourism Authority said.

Lonely Planet said that Malta has been ‘much-loved by European visitors for decades,’ adding that it ‘is attracting more visitors from around the world, beckoned by its prehistoric temples, fantastic scuba diving and buzzy Valletta, its beautiful capital,'” the MTA added.

Lonely Planet’s annual marquee moment celebrates their expert predictions for where to go in the year ahead, the MTA said. “Showcasing 30 incredible destinations around this globe, Best in Travel 2023 is Lonely Planet’s 18th annual collection of the world’s hottest destinations and the must-have travel experiences for the year ahead. Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023 recommends 30 must-visit locations around food, journeying, connection, learning and unwinding. It offers a comprehensive set of itineraries aimed at helping travellers to explore the world – while following along with some seriously knowledgeable locally based experts along the way.”

The award was presented to Clayton Bartolo, Minister for Tourism; Gavin Gulia and Carlo Micallef, Chairman and CEO of the Malta Tourism Authority, during last week’s World Travel Market in London.

“Malta’s profile in the tourism world is rapidly gaining the strong reputation it truly deserves. In the past months, the Malta Tourism Authority has been a proactive catalyst in making sure that the splendour of the Maltese Islands is shared and outreached around the globe,” outlined Minister for Tourism Clayton Bartolo.

“Each year, Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023 lists start with nominations from Lonely Planet’s vast community of staff, writers, bloggers, publishing partners and more. The nominations are then whittled down by our panel of travel experts to just 30 destinations. Each is chosen for its topicality, unique experiences, ‘wow’ factor and its ongoing commitment to sustainability, community and diversity,” the MTA said.

Article credits: https://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2022-11-16/local-news/Malta-wins-Lonely-Planet-s-top-destination-to-unwind-award-6736247525
Sports Tourism event in Milan

Colours of Malta is happy to share another exciting event organised in Milan, Italy, in collaboration with Visit Malta Italia.

A handful of  Milan Incentive Houses were invited to participate in an exclusive motivational lesson, where together with the exceptional sports personality – Ivan Basso, former professional cyclist, now manager of the Eolo-Kometa team – guests had the opportunity to discover some tricks of the discipline by visualizing incredible routes on the destination.

The event, proudly attended by Davide Cachia allowed us to identify to our guests how sports is a strongpoint in Malta and through this, guests learnt about biking routes around the Maltese Archipelago.

VisitMalta recently started a partnership with Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team precisely to ensure that the tourism sector, in its versatility, continues to grow in strength and quality, diversifying the product and the various niches that that can be offered, especially Sports Tourism, that is gaining popularity on the Maltese Islands.

The event took place in Milan at Virgin Active Collection Milano Cavour.

Ancient Apocalypse Netflix series

What if everything we know about prehistoric humans is wrong?

Journalist Graham Hancock travels the globe hunting for evidence of mysterious, lost civilizations dating back to the last Ice Age. Ancient Apocalypse is split into eight roughly half-hour-long episodes, over the course of which Hancock explains his theory about ancient civilizations. He believes that there was an advanced culture that existed before known civilizations that fed into ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Mesoamerica, during the period that historians believe all people were hunter-gatherers. Over the course of the docuseries, he travels across the globe from Turkey to Malta to Indonesia to the Bahamas to attempt to prove his points and find where this “lost civilization” may have been based.

Watch the Netflix episode regarding Malta, here.

Villa Guardamangia – Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s former home in Malta

It was one of their first marital homes and a place where the then Princess Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip were able to live a relatively ‘normal’ life as husband and wife, before the sudden death of her father, King George VI, changed their lives forever. Now, Villa Guardamangia is set to be transformed into a museum, after falling into disrepair in recent years,

The couple lived in Malta for two years between 1949 and 1951, while Prince Philip was stationed there with HMS Magpie. An 18th century limestone villa in the style of a summer palace, Villa Guardamangia was loaned to the couple by Philip’s beloved uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten, who rented it from the Schembri family. It was said to hold very happy memories for the couple, who looked back on their carefree time there fondly later in life. The Queen was a ‘regular’ naval wife, shopping in her Morris Minor and taking boat trips around the archipelago, while her husband worked hard in the Navy, one of his great joys, and a career that was cut short by his wife’s ascension to the throne.

The building was purchased in 2020 by the government and entrusted to Heritage Malta. The conservation and reconstruction works are already taking place but the main rehabilitation works are planned to start by the end of the year 2022 and are planned to last for the next 5 years and cost around €10mil to bring the villa back to its former glory. Conservators are currently working on the 1st floor uncovering the original wall paintings. This project will see the former royal residence transformed into a museum, exploring both Britain’s link to Malta (which gained independence in 1964) and will recreate what the house looked like when the royal couple lived there.

‘It’s in a very dilapidated state,’ Kenneth Gambin from Heritage Malta, told The Telegraph. ‘We’ve had to prop up the façade because it was threatening to collapse in places. We will have to replace some walls. It needs extensive work, it’s been falling to pieces for the last few decades. We calculate that it will cost somewhere between €5m and €10m and I would say it will be closer to the higher figure.’

 

Article credits: https://www.tatler.com/article/villa-guardamangia-malta-home-queen-prince-philip-renovation
10 hidden gems in Malta

From finding secret beaches on which to enjoy Malta’s stunningly clear waters to knowing the best places to find a cup of coffee with a view or tuck into a late-night pastizzi-fest, this guide has got you covered when it comes to discovering hidden Malta.

1. Valletta
The capital of Malta is, of course, a popular place to begin your visit to the islands. But for the authentic Maltese experience, stray from the busy thoroughfares and get lost in the winding, pretty backstreets of Valletta. Here family-run cafes, tiny restaurants and kitsch little shops are dotted around, just begging to be explored.

2. Ghasri Valley
Malta has no shortage of beautiful coastal spots for a swim, but the Ghasri Valley on Gozo is a must-visit. Here crystal clear, turquoise waters gently run through a steep-sided winding valley to create a secluded, natural s-shaped swimming pool complete with a tiny pebble beach. It’s also a great place for snorkelers and divers, as the creek hides several impressive underwater caves.

3. The Secret Passage at St Gregory’s Church
Malta has its own secret tunnel to rival Paris’ spooky catacombs; the thick stone walls of St Gregory’s Church in Zejtun have a hidden passageway inside, filled with human bones. With the skeletons believed to date back to the 1600s, the passageway was hidden for centuries before being re-discovered in the 1960s. Watch out for holidays and events when the church is open for visitors.

4. Fontanella Tea Garden
When visiting the city of Mdina, there’s only one place to stop for refreshments. The Fontanella Tea Garden is situated up high on the city’s stone bastions, meaning these al-fresco coffees come with the best views across Malta. Oh, and it’s also famous on the island for its delicious selection of home-made cakes – yes, please.

5. Il-Hofra L-Kbira
If you’re looking for a private slice of coastline, Il-Hofra L-Kbira will not disappoint. From the parking lot on the cliffs above, the beach is almost completely hidden below. Shallow warm waters and a flat, rocky beach with a little cave area providing some shade await visitors who find it. It’s not far from the super popular St Peter’s Pool in Marsaxlokk, so you could enjoy its hidden beauty after visiting the touristy site.

6. Crystal Palace Pastizzis
Pastizzi, a soft filo-pastry filled with mushy peas or soft ricotta, is Malta’s go-to snack. You’ll find them on sale pretty much everywhere, from bars to street food vendors, but Crystal Palace Tea and Coffee Bar has become a bit of a pastizzi icon. On the outskirts of Rabat, this cafe is open pretty much 24/7, so you can get your fix any time of the day or night!

7. Mnajdra Temple Complex
Malta has a long and rich history so the country boasts some incredible Roman ruins and beautiful crumbling architectural sites from different periods of its past, many of which get very busy with visitors. One hidden gem amongst these sites is the Mnajdra Temple Complex, near the village of Qrendi, where one of the three beautiful neolithic temples was built and designed around the movements of the sun. If you can, plan your visit during an equinox or solstice when special events are held.

8. The Jesus Tree
Yep, this is literally a tree that looks a bit like Jesus on the cross. Local legend says that the tree changed shape after being struck by lightning and locals now place flowers and gifts in homage at its feet. After being uprooted during a storm, it unfortunately lost its “head” and roots but the trunk was afterwards secured into a concrete base, so its holy shape can still be admired. If you’re after a quirky afternoon activity, set off to find the tree just outside of Mdina.

9. Seafood in Marsaskala
It’s no surprise that the seafood in Malta is famous for making travellers’ mouths water – with a huge array of Mediterranean fish and shellfish caught offshore each day, dishes here could hardly get any fresher! A great place to sample local dishes is in the small, relaxed fishing village of Marsaskala. Tuck into a swordfish steak or try traditional spaghetti with octopus sauce, before wandering along the promenade to spy the colourful fishermen’s houses and the boats that bob in the harbor.

10. Coral Lagoon
This perfectly-circular sea cave with an open roof is B.E.A.utiful. Either swim or kayak through what looks like a small cave from the sea next to Little Armier Bay and you’ll find yourself in a little round lagoon, harboring bright blue, clear waters. It’s worth getting there early before the tourists arrive – this highly Instagrammable hideaway isn’t going to stay a secret for much longer!

Article credits: https://www.ef.com/wwen/blog/language/10-hidden-gems-in-malta/
Mdina Cathedral Museum catering for eclectic tastes

The Mdina Cathedral Museum stands out as an institution that is continuously evolving. It is housed in a magnificent baroque building on the right hand side of the cathedral, in Archbishop’s Square. This imposing edifice was built by Bishop Alpheran de Bussan, with the first stone being laid in 1733. This building was to serve as the seminary for the diocese of Malta.

In the 16th century, the council of Trent had instituted seminaries to provide for the training of candidates to priesthood. Twelve years after the last session of the council, Mgr. Dusina, Apostolic Visitor to Malta had decreed the erection of a seminary. Various attempts were made by the bishops of Malta to have such a purpose built building but it was only in 1703 that Bishop Cocco Palmieri welcomes the first seminarians to a building in Mdina.

In 1723 Bishop Mancini (1722-1727) , transferred the Seminary to Valletta. Bishop Fra Paolo Alpheran de Bussan and Grandmaster Manoel De Vilhena funded the building of the current building.  The building’s design is attributed to the architects Giovanni Barbara or Andrea Belli, although Barbara was dead when construction began, leaving Belli as the more likely candidate. The Mdina Seminary was inaugurated on the 20th May, 1742.

The Times of Malta talked to its curator, Mgr Edgar Vella and exhibition coordinator, Joseph P. Borg about its ethos and the recent bequest of the collection of John Bugeja Caruana. You may learn all about it in the article on The Times of Malta.

Read the full article here: https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/mdina-cathedral-museum-catering-eclectic-tastes.983126
7 feasts in one day, all dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady

The Maltese summer festa season hits its peak on 15th August with the feast of Santa Marija or, to give it its official title, the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, which is celebrated in no fewer than seven towns: Mqabba, Qrendi, Mosta, Attard, Gudja, Ghaxaq, and Victoria in Gozo.

It’s not just a religious feast but also a public holiday marking the mid-point of our long hot summer, when most businesses shut up shop to give employees a breather as the thermometer continues to sizzle.

For festa enthusiasts, Santa Marija is the queen of the season, and the usual competition between the parishes goes up a notch or three as towns vie with each other to produce the biggest, most colourful celebration punctuated by the loudest and most creative fireworks.

In some towns, celebrations start two weeks prior to the big day, and culminate in spectacular fireworks displays on the 14th and 15th of August. One of the best pyrotechnic shows to watch will be the one produced by the St Mary’s Fireworks Factory of Mqabba, which is renowned for its ingenious displays. Get there early on the evening of 14th August to grab a good viewing post, as it will get very crowded. Not to be outdone by its neighbour, Qrendi’s Santa Marija celebrations are drawn out over four weeks from 30th July to 22nd August.

The famous Mosta dome, or Rotunda as the locals refer to it, glows bright as it becomes the focal point for all Santa Marija celebrations, with High Mass celebrated by the Archbishop on 15th August at 9:15am. The mechanised ground fireworks display is held outside the church on the eve starting at 11:30pm, while the procession with the titular statue starts at 6:45pm on 15th August, with the brass band playing the Ave Maria.

The elegant residential town of Attard is also en fête. Make sure to take a peek inside the parish church, which was built between 1613 and 1624 on designs by architect and sculptor Tommaso Dingli and is regarded as the finest Renaissance church on the island. A concert by the brass band La Stella Levantina will be held on the eve at 8pm in the parish square, followed by fireworks at 11:15pm. The procession with the titular statue starts at about 6:45pm on 15th August and finishes at around 10:30pm.

Another church built by Tommaso Dingli is that of the parish of Gudja, which is also celebrating the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady. Completed in 1666, it is the only church in Malta with three bell towers. When it comes to Santa Marija festa processions, Gudja holds the record for the oldest titular statue of the Assumption, sculpted out of solid wood in 1807 by Maltese sculptor Vincenzo Dimech. Sacred music will be performed by the Assumpta Est choir every day from 11th August in the church at 6:30pm, culminating in the pontifical mass on 15th August at 9am. There will also be two concerts by the La stella Band Club and Maria Assunta Band Club on 14th August from 9pm. The procession with the titular statue on 15th August starts at 7:30pm.

Ghaxaq goes to town with its street decorations for the Santa Marija festa, which is documented to have been celebrated in this village since at least the start of the 1800s. Many of its elaborate street decorations, including statues and pedestals, are over 100 years old. Celebrations actually kick off two weeks before on 30th July at precisely 12pm, when the church bells go wild, flags are hoisted up above the rooftops triggered by a 21-gun salute. A powerful siren, a World War II relic, is sounded from the St Mary’s Club in memory of the joyful arrival of the SS Ohio, which quite literally saved the island at the height of the Siege of Malta.

Head over to Ghaxaq on 13th August from 10pm for a street party like no other, where a procession with the statue of Our Lady ends with a confetti and fireworks show followed by a gig by DJ Armani. And on 14th August, bag yourself a vantage point on Valletta Road just outside the town to watch the “pyro-musical” spectacle “The Convoy” from 9pm, followed by mechanised ground fireworks at 11pm. At noon on 15th August, make sure you don’t miss a little tradition dating back to the 19th century when a mini statuette of the Assumption pops out of its elaborate sarcophagus on top of a grandfather-clock-like structure!

The capital of the sister island, Victoria, is also celebrating the feast of Santa Marija. The cathedral at the Citadel is the focal point for this festa, which also features traditional horse races along Republic Street as well as an agricultural fair at Villa Rundle on 14th and 15th August. Don’t miss the concerts by the Leone Philharmonic Society brass band which is based in the Aurora Theatre, one of Victoria’s two opera houses.

Malta’s UNESCO Capital City

The Maltese capital has an instant charm that may remind you of Venice and maybe even Prague in one fell swoop. Dripping with charisma and oozing an undeniable historical vibe, it is a place where baroque charm comes to life before your eyes. The ancient honey coloured buildings and walls perfectly capture the warmth of the Mediterranean light giving the city a glow that heightens the appeal. Here are just a few sights you may want to see during your visit to this beautiful European capital which finds itself, and deservedly so, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

St. John’s Co-Cathedral
The 16th century Co-Cathedral is a masterpiece of baroque workmanship. The somewhat plane exterior hides a glorious internal space that radiates with a golden glow by virtue of its grand and regal craftsmanship. Wherever you look you see beautiful decorative works, whether golden ornaments or marble statues, and don’t forget to look down, as the cathedral floor is every bit as ornate as the ceiling and walls with its delightful stonework and memorials of one sort and another. A must see while you’re in the island’s capital.

National Museum of Fine Arts
For those interested in all things artistic, the National Museum of Fine Arts is not only one of the oldest buildings in the city, but is an undisputed treasure trove of rare antique maps and a host of other works spanning the last 500 years. The 1760s saw the building undergo extensive renovation for the Knight who lived here all those years ago. It’s easy to feel history come to life as you stroll through the exhibits and rooms.

Casa Rocca Piccola
This beautiful example of 16th century architecture makes for a highly interesting visit around its well maintained and preserved rooms. But perhaps the most intriguing feature lies underground in the form of the World War II air raid shelters which have only recently been opened to the public. This underground world offers a truly fascinating insight into island life during the European conflict.

National War Museum
Although a tiny island, Malta’s strategic location in the Mediterranean has seen it caught in the crossfire of many a conflict. The museum presents a glimpse into battles and conflicts dating all the way back to the bronze age up to the relatively recent conflict of World War II. On display you will see the British built Gloster Sea Gladiator, Roosevelt’s famous Husky jeep, and the Malta George Cross awarded to the island by King George VI in 1942 along with his handwritten letter, all of which serves to remind the visitor the island’s history hasn’t always been the peaceful Mediterranean retreat it now is.

A sanctuary
Offering a place of refuge from the hot midday sun are the Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens with stunning views across the Grand Harbour. At noon everyday the tranquillity is slightly punctuated and only momentarily by the traditional canon fire of the Saluting Battery, a feature as old as the city itself. The lower gardens tend to be less frequented by visitors so may offer a more suitable retreat when things get busy.

Eating
The city is awash with options for eating out from places with romantic Mediterranean views to waterside features and subtly lit courtyards. All tastes are catered for from Asian favorites to Italian to local cuisine. You won’t go hungry in Valletta.

Annual Events
Then there are the annual events such as the synchronized Malta International Fireworks Festival held in April, the harbour side Malta Jazz Festival at the end of July, two annual wine festivals held at the end of July and August, and the Catholic Carnival in Valletta with interesting performances and brightly adorned floats sailing through the streets.

As far as European cities go, Valletta can compete with the best. History, charm, elegance are all to be found here in this little cultural oasis in the island of Malta, lying, as it does, firmly in the midst of the Mediterranean.

Article credits: https://www.welcome-center-malta.com/valletta-maltas-capital-city-and-unesco-world-heritage-site/

 

 

Malta Fashion Week is back!

After a 2 year absence, Malta Fashion Week and the Malta Fashion awards are back! The 3 day event will be an al-fresco, cabaret style seating, at the impressive Grand Harbour Rooftop, one of Malta’s most prestigious events venue, with magnificent views of the Grand Harbour. Guests will enjoy a lavish evening with daily fashion shows of local & foreign designers, live music and entertainment.

View the full schedule here: https://www.fashionweek.com.mt/

Why Malta is the Mediterranean’s most underrated destination

Plunked in the middle of the Mediterranean, Malta has been squabbled over by empires for millennia. But today its people are fashioning their own story. Conde Nast Traveler’s Rick Jordan recounts his various visits to the island while giving a brief recount of Malta’s fascinating history and how it shaped the Malta we know today.

Read the full article here:  https://www.cntraveler.com/story/in-malta-roman-ruins-and-natural-wine-bars-sit-side-by-side
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