Malta has been ruled by many foreign peoples, with evidence of civilization for nearly 7,000 years. He Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Germans, French, Spaniards and British all conquered these Maltese islands. Malta achieved its independence back in 1964 after reaching an agreement with the British Government to transition into a self-governed nation. In 1972 Malta emerged as a new independent nation, but remains a member of the British Commonwealth today.
I had been looking forward to seeing Malta for many years. A million years ago when I worked for Macy’s in New York, a colleague of mine called Nancy was particularly proud of here Maltese heritage. She spoke glowingly of her parent’s “homeland”, showing me fabulous photos of her sumptuous vacations to this beautiful Mediterranean jewel. I was reminded of her when we set foot on land-I saw a building with the name “Galea Insurance”, which was Nancy’s surname. I smiled to myself as her face was conjured up in my mind’s eye. Yes, this was Malta I thought.
We started our day visiting a glass-blowing shop, where an old man was working with globs of glass and fire to make all sorts of shapes and treasures. It was interesting, but I decided that since we are going to Venice next week, I would save my interest in glass works until then. We made our way to a place called Mdina (which can be pronounced Medina, but most say it phonetically, without the “e’). The ancient city of Mdina was stunningly beautiful, with origins back to the peak of the Roman Empire. This walled city proved to be a very sturdy fortress over the centuries and has remained largely in tact. Within the walls of the ancient city, just 300 people live today, it is carefully preserved and kept extremely clean. It had the sense of being on a movie set because it was so immaculate.
After enjoying a typical Maltese lunch at a local restaurant, we went to the capital, Valetta by way of City Gate. This part of Malta is a combination of old and new, with a great deal of historic architecture throughout. We were fortunate to visit the Presidential Palace, where we had special access to several rooms not usually open. It was truly an impressive site. We spent just one brief, but long day in Malta, and I found it to be quite captivating. I had the sense that there was a great deal more here, waiting in Malta- for another journey yet to come.
above: Horse drawn carriages gave a certain charm to the city
above: Malta has lots of ferral cats all over the place. This one was relaxing in the flowers in the shade.