The capital city of Malta (Valetta obv) is up for the capital of culture 2018. Coming from a city who has been a previous winner I know just what that means to the regeneration of a place – has Valletta got the culture to back it up?
Within minutes of arriving in Valletta we knew we loved it there, its grid of charming narrow streets dating back to the 1500’s are irresistable.
So what can you do there? Like any big city, it’s teaming with life; bars, shops and restaurants are everywhere. We picked out a few things to experience to try and make the most of the one day we had to spare.
Malta 5d – On Old Bakery street you’ll find a little theatre offering a unique way to learn the history of Malta; a 5d experience. I didn’t know how the hell something could be called 5d but I was intrigued. Turns out that while you watch a 20 minute film on the history of Malta in full 3d, your chairs are moving and vibrating along and you’re splashed with water etc – it’s definitely geared towards kids more than adults but nonetheless we spent almost the whole time laughing and we learnt loads too. It’s perfect if you haven’t got much time in the capital or if indeed you want some pointers as to where to go while you’re there. I loved it and I’m not even arsed how cheesy it was. If i remember correctly it was €8-9 for adults and just €5 for kids.
Strait Street – This runs pretty much from one end of the city right down to the other. Malta has a rich naval past and this is where all the sailors used to gather to drink and er…pick up ladies of the night. It’s still full of bars and restaurants now but is undergoing regeneration to get it back to its former heydey. I assume sans brothels but who knows?
The Pub – A little morbid but you can visit “The Pub” which is the pub in which Oliver Reed died while filiming Gladiator. He died doing what he loved – drinking. Apparently his last session included 8 pints of lager, 12 double rum and cokes and half a bottle of whiskey. Yep, that oughtta do it like.
Casa Rocca Piccola – A 16th century palace which is still lived in today by the Marquis and Marchioness de Piro. The house is just devestatingly beautiful and shows exactly what it’s like to be pretty close to being a prinny. Underneath the house you can tour a huge air raid shelter from WW2.
St John’s Co-Cathedral – This is a cathedral which can actually make Italians stop and gasp (Italian cathedral game is strong). It’s pretty much 24 carat gold from top to bottom and really is very beautiful. You’ll also be able to see a couple of original paintings by the artist Caravaggio without the throngs of tourists like you’d find in the Louvre. I wore shorts and a t-shirt with a lace dress over it and they gave me an apron and a shawl to cover my arms and legs whereas my fella got to go in just wearing shorts – the feminist in me was FUMIN! It wasn’t a good look, but hey, that’s religion for you, even if you don’t agree you have to respect it.
The three cities – A short water taxi ride over from the bottom of the Bakara Gardens you can visit the three ancient cities. Films like Gladiator, World War Z and Game of Thrones were filmed here because the ancient walls are still so beautifully in tact.
Bakara Gardens – From here you can relax and take in the view across the harbour and the three cities. It’s a wonderful place to get married, they were taking down the marquees from a wedding while we were actually there. The view is magical.