This blog is dedicated to Malta - my island home. My aim is not to bore you with history but to share my thoughts and a few facts together with a photo or two. For a more in -depth background of the island please go here. The purpose of this blog is not to point out the short-comings of the island. There are plenty that do that already. My wish is to show you the beauty of an island at the cross roads of the Mediterranean, a melting pot of history; a place where fact and fiction are sometimes fused to create unique myths and legends; a country that has been conquered so many times that our culture is a mish mesh of the lands that surround us and of lands far away. I confess that my greatest desire is to make you fall in love with this tiny enchanting island.


Monday 20 May 2013

The New Barrakka Lift

What’s so special about a lift, I might hear you ask. And, in truth, it is just a lift. But in my mind, it has taken on the aura of a legend. The first Barrakka lift opened its doors to the public in December 1905.


The lift connected the harbour with the city and was a quick and efficient way of getting to Valletta from Lascaris Wharf. In the 1970s the lift was closed down and eventually dismantled. I have a very vague recollection of my father taking me for a ride on the old lift a few months before it was closed. The structure was dismantled in 1983 and all of us that remembered it, however tenuously, talked nostalgically of the lift and its vertiginous trip up and down the fortified walls underneath Upper Barracca Gardens.

The Barracca Bridge and Castille (2)

With the ever-increasing number of cruise ships berthing at Lascaris Wharf, a decision was taken to re-build a lift in the same place. In December 2012, the new Barrakka lift was inaugurated. The lift is 58 metres high and is connected to the fortifications of Valletta by a bridge. Positioned at the highest point of Valletta, the lift offers a fantastic view of Grand Harbour and the old cities of Bormla, Birgu and Isla.

The Barracca Bridge and Castille (1)

The view

The Barracca Bridge and Castille (10)-001

The lift

The Barracca Bridge and Castille (11)-001

At the base (the tunnel leads to the harbour)

The Barracca Bridge and Castille (12)-001

Looking up

The Barracca Bridge and Castille (16)The Barracca Bridge and Castille (18)-001

The Barracca Bridge and Castille (20)

The original sign from 1905

The quickest link between the harbour and the city has been restored. The legend is reborn.

Location: Barrakka Lift, Upper Barrakka Gardens, Valletta

Tuesday 7 May 2013

Event of the Month: Faith and Humanity – an Exhibition of Paintings by Mattia Preti

Mattia Preti was born in Taverna, a small town in Calabria (Italy) in 1613. He came to Malta in 1659 as a member of the Order of the Knights of St John and died here in 1699. To mark the 400th anniversary since his birth, an exhibition of some of his major works will be held in Valletta. The exhibition will feature paintings on loan from, among others, the Prado (Madrid), the Louvre (Paris), Uffizzi (Florence), Musei Vaticani (Rome) and Museo di Capodimonte (Naples) together with local masterpieces from the National Museum of Fine Arts and various churches. During his lifetime, Preti was a prolific painter and his works adorn many a church and country chapel. The artist’s exuberant style is representative of the late Baroque period. Many consider  the narrative cycle based on the life and martyrdom of St John the Baptist that he painted on the ceiling of St John’s Cathedral in Valletta, to be his crowing glory. Mattia Preti, also known as Il Cavalier Calabrese (the Knight from Calabria), is buried in St John’s Cathedral, Valletta.

A section of the vault of St John’s Cathedral (the pink spots are from my camera)

Notte Bianca 022-001

The Mystic Marriage of St Catherine

Notte Bianca 025

Mattia Preti – Faith and Humanity

The Palace State Rooms


4 May – 7 July

Open daily from 10.00hrs till 16.00hrs


To learn more about this exhibition that is being organised by Heritage Malta go here.

For other events in Malta in May go here.

The Azure Window: the end of an icon

The Azure Window was a natural limestone arch that rose majestically out of the blue Mediterranean sea to a height of 28 metres (92 fee...