Friday, December 12, 2008
“You can’t get more Mediterranean than Malta,” says Darren, a businessman who often travels to this small island, “I mean, its right next to Sicily – which also means loads of Mafia in the vicinity.”
This is my first time on an island in the Mediterranean and according to Darren I’m lucky, as Malta is the most beautiful of them all.
I would have to say that the stone walled farms, filled in with prickly pears and well preserved old buildings, are winning me over pretty quickly. My colleagues and I are spending our free afternoon in rental jeeps and although the flattering Italian daylight is quickly fading we still manage to fit in some sightseeing.
The most breathtaking of them all are the Dingly cliffs from where the Mediterranean Sea stretches right into the horizon. It’s the kind of place that one couldn’t get bored of judging by the way the locals never tire of telling us about Filfla, the speck of an island that is a mere breath away from the edge of the cliff. It is rocky and inaccessible but adds a lovely touch to the view.
From here we visit the legendary St Elmo fort, which outlived numerous attacks by the Turks in the 17th century. We look out over the city lights of Valetta from the walls of the fort. Someone points out St Mary’s church, where a WWII bomb was dropped through the roof in 1942. The bomb never went off and everyone in the crowded church was spared. This miracle also contributes to the strict Catholic values of the Maltese.
A stroll through the cobbled streets of Valetta makes me wish that my new found love was here to hold my hand. I romanticise about living a slow-paced, sensual life – but that’s only until we hit the lively bars where it’s pretty clear that the young people around here like to party hard.
They’re cool, the Maltese; and it's not only the accent. They’re friendly island people with strong values, Italian style (pizza & gelato!) and plenty of energy for anything fun.
Perhaps Malta is not only as Mediterranean as it gets, but also as good as it gets. It’s on my top 5 holiday list, for sure.