The Colours of Malta Summer 2020 Journey – Week 1

Week 1 – Meeting Mark Weingard

This week’s journey took us to the bastion walls of Valletta to meet Mark Weingard, founder of Iniala Group.

Mark explained to us the concept of this amazing project, the inspiration and the results he’d like to achieve once the hotel opens its doors. Mark is full of energy and excitement as he talks about his project, now near completion after 7 years in the making.

Fabulously designed and decorated suites boasting imposing Grand Harbour Views, each uniquely finished to the highest of standards, a restaurant with the most scenic views and exquisite cuisine and a spa to relax in, all in the Capital City!

Mark goes on to say that this project will be the Top Luxury Experience in Malta but also a home away from home!

We can’t wait to experience the luxury of this new property, opening its doors mid October.

To learn more about Iniala Group and its philanthropy click on : https://www.inialagroup.com/

St John’s co Cathedral will re-open its doors to the public

St John’s co Cathedral will re-open its doors to the public on Wednesday 15th July.

Here’s a few important changes to take note of :

New timings – 10:30 hrs to 14:30 hrs (last entry at 14:00 hrs).

New Numbers – a total of 189 visitors will be allowed at any one time / groups shall be of no more than 25 persons.

New entry regulations –

New pricing – Adults: €15.00

The Rolex Middle Sea Race

The annual Rolex Middle Sea Race is highly rated as a must-do and must-see race, which kicks off in Valletta’s majestic Grand Harbour. Every year the race takes place in mid October, so book your stay in Valletta to witness the spectacular international fleet set sail in the Mediterranean. The sight of sleek yachts sailing around the majestic bastions is definitely something you need to tick off your bucket list!

A challenging racecourse – The racecourse, often described as the most beautiful in the world, begins underneath the historic Fort St Angelo and Saluting Battery in Valletta, before heading northeast along the coast of Sicily, towards the Straits of Messina. Along the way, the International fleet will usually be able to see and hear the rumbling Mount Etna in Sicily, before continuing on its course towards Stromboli, another active volcano. Next, the fleet turns left towards the Aegean Islands until reaching the island of Favignana. After reaching this point, they will turn south towards Lampedusa, passing the island of Pantelleria, before returning towards the Marsamxett Harbour in Malta.

The origins of the Middle Sea Race – The challenging course has attracted hundreds of sailors from all over the world, since its first edition in 1968. The race was co-founded by the Royal Malta Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club in a bid to test the skills of two rival members of the clubs.

Held in October, crews and skippers need to be on their A-game to overcome to changeable weather conditions at sea. The exciting race has been held annually ever since, except for a brief break between 1984 and 1995. Last year saw over 120 crews from more than 30 countries meeting in the Mediterranean Sea for the race, and the current record stands at 47 hours and 55 minutes.

Caravaggio masterpieces in Malta

The most famous artist who worked in Malta has to be Caravaggio. His ‘Beheading of St. John the Baptist’, a work once described as ‘the painting of the 17th century’ was commissioned for, and is still on display in, the Oratory of the Co-Cathedral of St. John, Valletta. Another of his most famous works, St. Jerome, is also in the cathedral. Together, these works represent a key period in the development of this unorthodox artist. His style, with its powerful use of shadow and shafts of light (chiaroscuro), created an almost choreographed drama with the subject; a technique which broke with the tradition of religious painting. Caravaggio arrived in Malta in 1607 in rather dubious circumstances having fled Rome to avoid justice. He was wanted for murder. However, in Malta, under his new patrons, he was feted and admitted to the Order of St. John. But his freedom from justice lasted only just over a year. He was imprisoned in Fort St. Angelo and later escaped to Sicily, only to die two years later at the age of 38 still hounded by the forces of justice.

Malta is famous for…

1.       A Stunning Coastline

When asking the question, ‘what is Malta famous for?’, the most generic answer we can provide is: sun, sea, and beautiful beaches. There’s so much more to Malta than golden sands and blue waves, but it’s undeniable that Malta’s beautiful coast is one of the Mediterranean’s most stunning landscapes.

2.     Malta has a Reputation as a Diving Hotspot

Malta is famous for its incredible coastline, but you don’t have to be lying on the beach to appreciate the Mediterranean’s unique charm. The archipelago’s famous, crystal clear waters especially make for great diving!

Frequently voted one of the world’s best diving locations, Malta is home to hundreds of reefs, caves, and ancient wrecks.

The warmth of Malta’s waters means that marine life is colourful and abundant, but a comfortable temperature also means that you can happily spend hours wallowing in the Med. This is convenient because there’s plenty to see once you get in the water.

Malta is well known for the shipwrecks lying just off its coast, including several shipwrecked HMS submarines. The archipelago is also home to some impressive, underwater geological features. Recently, Malta’s celebrated Azure Window sea arch collpased  in a severe storm. Although this event caused grief across the island of Gozo, the arch’s submersion still provides a stunning spectacle for thousands of eager divers.

3.     Malta has some of the Oldest Structures in the World

But Malta’s ancient wonders aren’t all under water. Despite being so isolated, civilizations have flourished on Malta for thousands of years.

Malta’s most historic claim to fame is the 5,00 year old Hagar Qim.   This limestone beauty is one of Malta’s celebrated Megalithic temples ,  many of which predate the pyramids and even Stonehenge.

These temples are all designated UNESCO Word Heritage sites, but they’re not alone on the prestigious UN list – Malta’s capital city of Valletta and the prehistoric Hypogeum are also UNESCO World Heritage sites.

4.     The Capital City, Valletta, is a real gem!

The capital city of Malta really deserves a paragraph of its own. According to UNESCO, the city is ‘one of the most concentrated Historic areas in the world.

Valletta was the first ever planned city in Europe, with the designs being drawn out by the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1565. The original building plans resulted in a pretty spectacular city, but Valletta has only grown more beautiful with age.

Taking turns under the rule of the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginian, Romans, Byzantine, and Arabs, Valletta boasts an eclectic range of architecture and a unique medieval charm  that any visitor to Malta needs to experience.

5.     Maltese Cuisine is Divine

Malta is also famous for its food, and rightly so. If you’re in need of a snack whilst touring Valletta, be sure to try a ricotta filled filo-pastry Pastizzi. Ideally, this should be washed down with a can of Kinnie, which is a local soft drink made with chinotto bitter oranges and a special blend of herbs and spices.

For dinner, you should try the rabbit, which is a Maltese specialty, especially when slowly cooked with onions and wine. If you still have room, Imqaret, or fig cakes, are a delicious sweet snack that you can find on every street corner.

6.     Malta is a Walker’s Paradise

After all that eating, some exercise is definitely in order, especially if you’re looking for an active holiday.   Luckily, Malta is a walker’s paradise, and you’ll find plenty of delightful hikes and pleasant strolls to take around the islands.

Touring Malta by foot will provide you with some stunning views, from dramatic cliff edge views of the Mediterranean sea, to lush, green valleys nestled with prehistoric ruins and ancient cave chapels.

The best time to hike in Malta is just after the first long rain following summer, when the wildflowers meadows spring to life.

7.     The Famous Maltese Festas

But unless you are heading to Malta on a hiking holiday, it’s best to come before the summer ends. That’s because summer is peak time for Malta’s colourful village festivals , or festas.

These feasts are an unmissable part of Maltese life. Every village in Malta has its own patron saint and its own individual festival, which may last up to a week , with fireworks and food stands livening up the summer nights.

8.     Movies Shot in Malta

As well as being famous for its diving, architectural sites, and festivals, Malta is also a popular film location in its own right.

Malta’s dramatic cliffs, stunning landscapes, and ancient buildings make it the perfect backdrop for many feature films and TV shows, particularly those aiming for an antiquated feel. The films ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Troy’ both take advantage of Malta’s classical charm, while the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise passed off a few Maltese landscapes as Caribbean beaches.

‘Game of Thrones’ also contains several scenes filmed around the intensely photogenic capital of Valletta. Game of Thrones fans will also be keen to know that Gozo’s famous, but sadly collapsed, Azure Window provided the backdrop for Daenerys Targaryen’s wedding with Kahl Drogo.

9. Comino Island & The Blue Lagoon

Comino provides another of Malta’s photogenic landscapes. Famous for its isolation and tranquility, the beautiful Cominois one of Malta’s tiniest islands, measuring only 3.5 km in area.

Home to only three residents, who commute to Gozo, Comino is better known for its bird population, and the area is a celebrated nature reserve. Comino’s rugged coastline and sheer cliffs were once the refuge of pirates and smugglers, but now they provide breathtaking views for tourists.

No trip to Malta is complete without at least a day spent admiring Comino’s crystal clear lagoons, and enjoying the island’s peaceful isolation.

10. Malta’s British Connection

From the perspective of the many British tourists that flock to the islands, Malta is famous for its British connection.

One little known fact about Malta is that the Maltese still drive on the left-hand side of the road, making Malta one of only four European countries, including Britain, that still drive on the left.

This left handed quirk is due to 160 years of British rule, which lasted until 1964 when the islands gained their independence. Across Malta, you can still find plenty of picturesque evidence of the British empire’s presence in Malta, from coastal fortifications, to beautiful buildings like the Malta Stock Exchange

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