Naxxar

  • Hello Naxxar, Malta - Our home here is “Saveria House”a 300-year old Maltese limestone house of three floors. A terrace open to the sky is on the third floor roof and looks down on our short walk alley. The alley has an Malteze name, Sqaq Nru. We are at 7 Triq Santa Lucija in the village of Naxxar (Nash-ar) […]
  • Casa Della Mozzarella - We took a walk around our Naxxar neighborhood this morning and came upon a little market, Casa Della Mozzarella. Even the sidewalk in front smells of fresh cheeses. We enter just to look and the owner is behind his glass cheese counter. “Buongiorno,” he booms out over his incredible case full of amazing homemade cheeses in every shade […]
  • A Near Miss - The people of Mosta gathered at their church for shelter from bombs in a heavy WW II German air raid. One bomb dropped directly on the dome of the church piercing it, falling among the 150 people gathered and skidding across the floor. It did not explode. Not a single person was harmed. The bomb sits in […]
  • Roun’Roun’GetAroun’ - When we travel we usually don’t rent a car, not for the whole three months we’re there. We believe in buses. They take you near where you want to go for a reasonable price. And you get to eavesdrop on animated conversations in a language you do not understand. Perfect combination of steadfast purpose, local […]
  • Roman Legions - Roman enemies spied first the standard bearer of the Legion as the centuries of warriors (about 5000 to the Legion) marched forward. The standard bearer wore a golden mask to instill awe, terror and panic into the enemy troops. Many of these men had never seen metal shine in the sun. T0 them it was […]
  • Rooted In Malta - It is the season for root vegetables in Malta. Winters here are mild. Days are low 60s and nights only go down to the mid 50s. Freezes are not seen. Days are most often partly sunny with rain one or two times throughout the day. It is light jacket weather. A little warm for growing root […]
  • St. Agatha’s Tower - St. Agatha’s Tower (or The Red Tower) sits on a promontory overlooking the Gozo Channel between Malta and Comino and Gozo Islands. It was part of a system of fortifications built by the Knights of Malta to defend the island from the attacks by Ottoman Turks and Barbary corsairs (pirates) from North Africa. Tradition has it that […]
  • Dining in Malta - Our first night in Malta, if you will remember, we sought shelter from the slings and arrows of lost luggage. Unbeknownst to us, Cellini, the restaurant we luckily found right around the corner is ranked #1 restaurant in Malta by Trip Advisor. And we know why. The food that night was wonderful. Unfortunately we were […]
  • Who’s There? - Door knockers are a big deal in Malta. Well, front doors command significant attention too. It could be that the lack of space between the flat facade of the house and the street added to a house being flush with the curb begs for a double doorway with matching door knockers. In any case that is […]
  • Villa Bologna - Villa Bologna is a working estate and garden in Attard, a village near Naxxar. This baroque villa was once the seat of the Counts della Categna. Today the sixth great grandson of the last count inherited the house, soon to be open to the public. The day we were there, we were the only ones roaming the […]
  • Outside the Lines -  
  • The Cathedral -   St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta, Malta is internationally known as the home of Caravaggio’s “Beheading of St. John the Baptist” and “St. Jerome” as well as being considered a magnificent expression of High Baroque architecture and religious art. For over 200 years St. John’s was the conventual church of the Knights of St. John […]
  • Carnival! - Before the fasting of Lent is a last gasp of over indulgence. Some call it Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, the last day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season leading up to Easter. In Malta, it is a week-long celebration, “Carnival!”. We chose the Children’s Parade out of all the events at Carnival […]
  • The Silent City - Mdina (Med-deena) is a fortified city that sits on the highest point on the island in the countryside of Malta. Historical sources place Mdina’s founding by the Phoenicians at some 4000 years ago. Built almost entirely of thick limestone rock its light gold walls contrast the blue sky on approach. For centuries the city served as the capital of Malta […]
  • Catching A Glimpse - Entering The Metropolitan Cathedral of Malta in Medina my eyes were drawn to the floor. There are a large number of gravestones along the central passage. Most of these are not actually tombs but commemorative art in honor of Malta’s bishops. As in the Cathedral of St. John in Valletta the figures are often skeletons […]
  • The Cart Ruts - Sometimes we go in search of something for curiosity’s sake. This was the case with “The Cart Ruts.” We had heard they were important to see and nearby but hard to find. Ah, a quest! After an hour of walking, a wrong turn onto a busy urban highway, and along a dirt road where huge cement […]
  • Malteze Signs - As we walk around the village streets of Malta, we see many of the houses with names prominently displayed on the facade, usually near the front door. Some signs are Malteze but many others are in English. Their meanings are limited only by the imagination of the owners. We got a kick out of “Hollywood” and “Golden […]
  • Domvs Romana - Domvs Romana is the aristocratic townhouse of a wealthy Roman of Melite (the ancient name for Malta) that has survived, in part, since the 1st century AD in Rabat, Malta. We visited on a windy day after the tumultuous storm that felled “The Azure Window” a natural stone bridge on the coast of Gozo, Malta’s second […]
  • The Rampart - There is a point, a peninsula, an extension from the island of Malta into the Mediterranean Sea that has been the key strategic position on the island for millennia.  It was a modest sized hillock at the tip of the Birgu Peninsula in the earliest times. The Phoenicians in the first half of the first millenium […]
  • The Tarxien Temples - The Tarxien Temples of Malta are a grouping of four Megalithic structures built between 3600 and 2500 BC. The mysterious creators of the temples, known only as the ‘Temple Builders’ displayed most sophisticated forms of art, architecture and sculpture on these temples stones. The builders’ “creed” was a fixed set of principles or a formula for creation of these astonishing physical […]
  • A Maltese Wedding - We were walking home on this sunny Sunday afternoon and passed by the Naxxar Parish Church. The bride and groom were just exiting the front doors of the church to be greeted by rose petals and champagne. The bride came through the doors raising her arms in victory and the guests gathered for hugs all […]
  • Seed. Sprout. Bloom. - We walk by this bed of pansies almost every day. Their progression of bloom marks our time here.    
  • The Eye of Osiris - Marsaxlokk has been a port since the ninth century BC. It is in this bay the Phoenicians first landed and plied their trades. Fishing was probably here before the Phoenicians. The protected natural harbor makes a safe, calm place for boats to moor and fish feed in the rich waters. When we visited on a clear […]
  • Hagar Qim - We visited the Hagar Qim Temples on a gloriously sunny day last week. The sunflowers cover the fields around the temple and make for a grand entry into the site of these astonishing Neolithic structures. Over time the elements have damaged the porous limestone with centuries of rain and sun. Heritage Malta has created floating […]
  • A Ramble - We went for a ramble along a country road here. It is spring in Malta now. The wildflowers are in bloom. The tiny ones are hiding in the long grasses, pink, orchid, peach, violet blue, yellow, orange, red, singular and tiny peeking out of the undergrowth. We started on the road and veered off into farmers’ […]
  • The Apiary - We were walking a road built by the Romans when they occupied Malta during the time of the Punic Wars. Going up some crumbling stone steps off the main path we came upon this sign. Those of you who know me may know I used to be a beekeeper in Upstate New York. I worked in an […]
  • A Corpus of Graffiti - There is nothing new about prisoners scratching names, dates, memories and dreams into the walls of their cells. On Gozo, the “other,” smaller and more rustic island in Malta, there is a old prison where prisoners graffitied the walls from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The prison in Gozo began in the late Medieval […]
  • The Roman Road - This road was built by the Romans more than 2000 years ago. The Romans came during the Second Punic War in 218 BC between Carthage and Rome. As they did in all of the regions they occupied the Romans developed roads and trade. You can still see the worn limestone road surface, the run off channel lined with […]
  • Hello Noto Sicily - We are in Noto, Sicily for 10 days. This is the view from my chaise lounge on the terrace of our apartment in Noto. We ate dinner on the terrace last night. The warm breeze was still stirring at 7 p.m. as we drank red wine from nearby Avola and had the fresh pasta and sauce […]
  • Pure Baroque - The Cathedral of San Nicolo is on the main street of Noto among other baroque churches and palazzi. But from the moment we entered, the feeling was different. Instead of the gilt, chandeliers and intense colors, this church of baroque architecture is completely white. The calm and purity of the white contrasts with the religious art […]
  • Things Sicilian -
  • A Day of Sweets - Please note, the name of this column is not “A Sweet Day” but “A Day of Sweets” which it was indeed in the nearby town of Modica. We planned to spend our time between coming and going at two museums, two churches, a little panini shop and buying the “best” cannolis in southern Sicily all […]
  • Palaces and Roofs - There are palaces in Noto as there are all over Sicily. But only one in Noto can be seen inside and out and that is the Palacio Nicolaci de Villadorata. The Nicolaci family rose to power in the XVIII and IX centuries. They made their fortune on the tuna industry and as many still do, they bought their […]
  • Palm Sunday Procession - All over the island of Sicily, Easter week is marked by slow-moving processions and displays of penitence and mourning. Every town, like Noto, has its own traditions. There are religious reenactments, processions with religious symbols and dress and public prayers. On Palm Sunday drum beats from a procession on the street below our house reached us […]
  • Mancieri! - Mancieri means “eat” in Sicilian. And we certainly have been eating. I thought you might enjoy having lunch at a little restaurant around the corner, “Al Buco” if only in your imagination. Please forgive the unforgivable lack of accent marks. ANTIPASTO or INSALATA Lunch is a shorter meal than the evening meal here. Usually Sicilians do […]
  • Ciao, Sicily - What is there about certain places that touch the heart? The colors, the sunshine, the aromas, the evening light speak a language we understand immediately. Southeastern Sicily is that way for me as Capetown, South Africa is for Dana. The place was familiar from the first time we saw the land. Sicily is red roses […]
  • Springtime in Malta - There is a palace around the corner from our house in Malta. Palazzo Parisio and Gardens is an extravagant estate built in 1733 by a Grand Master in the Knights of Malta. In 1898 Marquis Scicluna bought the lodge and enlisted a vast phalanx of architects, sculptors, painters and stone masons to transform it into the palace it is […]
  • An Easter Procession - Christians around the world celebrate Holy Week and Easter, commemorating the final days of Jesus Christ—his return to Jerusalem, his crucifixion, and his resurrection. Families attend church services, hooded penitents take part in processions, and artists and families decorate Easter eggs. In Catholic Passion plays, participants depict Jesus’s trial and death. In Malta, a predominantly […]
  • Happy Easter - Easter Sunday is a celebration. The church bells are pealing, the band is brightly playing and there are many children in this morning’s procession. Have a Happy Easter!
  • By the Sea - By the sea, by the sea, By the beautiful sea, You and me, you and me Oh how happy we’ll be. We took a boat ride around the bays surrounding Valletta. More than ever before we understood how the past, the present and the future live side-by-side here. The juxtapositions of ancient fortifications, high-rise apartments, elegant sailboats, cargo […]
  • Sand and Fire - It is believed glass was discovered by accident. Mediterranean traders, like the Phoenicians, settled on a beach for a length of time and used the same bonfire for cooking. The heat from the fire on the mixture of sand and volcanic stone melted it into a flexible medium. By experimentation, the traders discovered the combination of materials and heat required […]
  • In the Wind - The Ta’ Kola Windmill on the island of Gozo dates to the time of the Knights of Malta. The name Ta’ Kola comes from the last miller, Guzeppi Grech who was affectionately called “Zeppu Ta’ Kola,” Joseph, the son of Nikola. When the wind was favorable for the mill’s operation, Zeppu would let the locals […]
  • The Ggantjia Temples - When discovered in 1840, historians believed that these two massive Neolithic temples must have been built by giants, ggantjia. The find was of tremendous archaeological significance as Ggantjia was established on the island of Gozo before Stonehenge, somewhere between 3600 and 3200 BC. In the mid- to late 19th century those of sufficient means took ” The Grand […]
  • The Lunzjata Valley - I found mention of the Lunzjata Valley in a short, three-sentence description buried in Trip Advisor. All the item said was that the valley was on Gozo, “abundant and serene” with the sound of fresh springs flowing into the gardens. After extensive research I found a clue that the entrance to the Valley was near the Chapel […]
  • Goodbye Malta - We say goodbye to Malta astonished at the history found in these small islands. We came expecting an Arabian-Italian culture. We leave understanding the long history of a besieged island influenced by many cultures since the Phoenicians. And we learned of a people steadfast in their love of their unique and ancient nation. We saw […]
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