NOTES FROM ANOTHER SMALL IS­LAND

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - ASK THE TOUR GUIDE | MALTA - CE­LESTE MITCHELL

Ididn’t grow up in Val­letta but Malta is a small is­land. Go­ing to Val­letta for Mal­tese peo­ple means a max­i­mum 45minute drive, even if you live at the other end of the is­land,” Lor­raine Vas­sallo says. A lo­cal tour guide for 20 years, and with Bun­nik Tours since they started trav­el­ling to Malta in 2003, Lor­raine says she loves the “Fortress City” of this tiny na­tion for many rea­sons. “Firstly the ar­chi­tec­ture, since I love the Baroque pe­riod in our his­tory, then the breath­tak­ing views of­fered from the for­ti­fi­ca­tions, the beau­ti­ful coloured, closed, wooden bal­conies, and for meet­ing so many dif­fer­ent peo­ple!” Be­fore you visit, get ac­quainted with Malta’s cap­i­tal with Lor­raine’s top tips.

EURO­PEAN CAP­I­TAL OF CUL­TURE

Val­letta has been named the Euro­pean Cap­i­tal of Cul­ture for 2018, which means the city is be­ing recog­nised world­wide for its splen­dour in ar­chi­tec­ture and arts, and its po­si­tion and his­tor­i­cal im­por­tance through the ages. Peo­ple are com­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate more of what the city has to of­fer – not only tourists but also lo­cals who were pre­vi­ously not so in­ter­ested in our Mal­tese cul­ture.

Var­i­ous con­certs, fes­ti­vals and ex­hi­bi­tions are be­ing held in Val­letta but also in other parts of the is­land where ev­ery­one can at­tend, par­tic­i­pate and ex­pe­ri­ence the cel­e­bra­tions first-hand. One of the most awaited events is go­ing to be the Pi­casso and Miró art ex­hi­bi­tion held at the Grand Mas­ter’s Palace be­tween now and June.

DON’T MISS THIS

First and fore­most, you should visit St John’s Co-Cathe­dral, once the con­ven­tual church of the Knights Or­der of St John (the Knights of Malta). It’s the most beau­ti­ful church I have ever seen in my life.

Dat­ing back to 1731, The Ma­noel, Malta’s Na­tional Theatre, is Europe’s third-old­est still func­tion­ing theatre. It may only house 623 seats but many opera singers, mu­si­cians and troupes have graced its stage through­out the past 300 years.

The Up­per Bar­rakka Gar­dens of­fer breath­tak­ing views over the fa­mous Grand Har­bour, no mat­ter the weather.

And for more his­tory, the Na­tional Museum of Ar­chae­ol­ogy has reper­toires dat­ing as far back as 7000 years. Here is where you’ll find the fa­mous “Sleep­ing Lady” of Ħal-Saflieni and other arte­facts re­cov­ered from the var­i­ous pre­his­toric sites sit­u­ated all over the archipelago.

Val­letta is small so even though this seems like a lot, you’ll man­age all of this and more in two days.

EAT LIKE A LO­CAL

While vis­it­ing Val­letta – or any­where around the is­lands ac­tu­ally – you must try the lo­cal “pas­tizzi”, a flaky, savoury pas­try usu­ally filled with ri­cotta or mushy peas, and oven baked un­til golden brown.

Wash it down with the fizzy soft drink known as Kin­nie, brewed from bit­ter or­anges and ex­tracts of worm­wood. It’s the na­tional soft drink of Malta and both Kin­nie and pas­tizzi are eas­ily found in Val­letta cafes.

ONCE YOU’VE SEEN THE SIGHTS

Seek out the Hast­ings Gar­dens, sit­u­ated on top of the bas­tions above the right-hand side of the Main Gate. From here, you can see a large part of the is­land, Marsamx­ett Har­bour, and also get a closer look at the for­ti­fi­ca­tions pro­tect­ing the city.

PICTURE: ISTOCK

In two days, you can ex­plore much of the beau­ti­ful Fortress City of Val­letta in the tiny na­tion of Malta.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.