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MALTA and the boys with the doblo

TRAVEL DIARY
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Lluis Enric Mayans
@lluisenricmayans
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Before starting my diary I greet and thank all the readers, let's start with the title (I RAGAZZI CON IL DOBLO) we are 7 and from Naples we arrive in Malta on 17.06.2019 where we will spend a week, to move we rented a Fiat Doblo of course with steering wheel on the right and driving in reverse to ours ?. Will there be? to laugh?

1 day

We arrive at the international airport of Malta, the only one on the island a few kilometers from Valletta, after having completed the rental practices we go to our Hotel Located in San Ġwann, just 15 minutes by car from Valletta, we arrange our bags in the room and we are ready for our first evening in Malta. Having no information on the various areas of Malta, we move a bit at random and reach the city? of San Giuliano (San Giljan) which in reality? ? one with Valletta, in this area of ​​Malta when you move you change Citt? without realizing it, San Giuliano, Swiequi, San Giovanni, Mdina, Hamrun, Tarscen, Paola, Vittoriosa, Cospicua and many others are in reality? a single urban agglomeration. Returning to talk about San Giuliano, we can say that this city? and known for its beaches, such as those of Balluta Bay, (actually a few meters of sand and a concrete staircase behind, I would say really ugly), overlooking the Spinola Bay is the Baroque-style Palazzo Spinola and characterized by a clock carved on the facade. On the seafront there are many restaurants, bars and discos, I cannot judge the discos but I can advise you to choose the restaurant well, many leave something to be desired, they are crowded and with poor food and service. After dinner we return to the hotel.



2 day

The following morning we go to Valletta, we park our Dobloo just outside the walls and before passing them we admire the Tritons fountain It consists of three bronze tritons that support a large basin, balanced on a concentric base built in concrete and covered with slabs of travertine. Crossing the bridge that allows us to cross the moat we enter the city? old and immediately on the right there? the Maltese Parliament, designed by Renzo Piano, a modern building but well integrated into the architectural context of the historic center. We continue on the main street and on our left we find L'Auberge de Provence, an ancient building used as a National Museum of Archeology. In the museum there are prehistoric finds from the Maltese islands dating back to a time band between the Għar Dalam period (5200 BC), in which there were the first human settlements on the island, and the Tarxien period (2500 BC). The main piece of all the exhibits on display and the Sleeping Lady artifact discovered in the hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni. We leave the museum and a few meters on the opposite side we visit the Co-Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista, patron saint of the Knights Hospitallers, at a cost of 10 euros, an order formed by nobles from the most? important European families committed to protecting the Catholic faith and Europe from attacks by the Ottoman Turks. The members of the Order are divided into Knights, Chaplains and Servants of arms under the authority? of a Prince Grand Master. Seeing this cathedral from the outside, one cannot? imagine the internal richness, but as soon as you enter you are enveloped in a concentration of beauty. The Cathedral together with the historic center of Valletta? been declared a patrimony of humanity? in 1980. The building? a basilica with a main nave 15 meters wide and 53 meters long, and two lateral ones supported by twelve pillars. The present works are endless, including two works by Caravaggio and others by Mattia Preti. Even the floor is amazing, made up of 405 tombstones made as marble panels, the richly inlaid slabs bear heraldic symbols, dedications, inscriptions, religious motifs, military friezes and naval trophies. Along both sides are the ten intercommunicating chapels, eight of them are dedicated to the main nationalities. and languages ​​spoken of the Knights the environments of the communities? French, Italian, German and Aragonese, the latter being the most? numerous and important are found more? near the altar and manifest the magnificence of their respective states. After the Cathedral we visit the armory and the rooms of the palace and finally the Fort Sant? Elmo in whose interior there is? the War Museum which collects weapons ranging from age? of the bronze to 2004 (the year in which Malta joined the European community). We retrace our steps and leave the center of Valletta. We return to the hotel and spend a few hours in the pool before dinner.



3 day

On our third day in Malta we go to Vittoriosa one of the three cities? famous of Malta, (the other two are Cospicua and Senglea). In Vittoriosa we visit the Palazzo dell? Inquisitore one of the very few surviving palaces of its kind, the construction of the building dates back to 1530, but over the centuries there have been many changes and extensions, today inside you can visit many rooms of the? epoch such as the kitchens and prisons, as well as the court where sentences were issued and the inquisitor's private rooms such as the bedroom. We leave the inquisitor's palace and go to the Maritime Museum which houses a unique collection of over 20.000 artifacts including some unique artifacts such as the pi? great Roman anchor. After the Maritime Museum we reach the Forte Sant? Angelo, one of the largest forts. intensely engaged in shaping Malta's destiny. Has the site attracted attention already? from antiquity, in particular after the colonization of the islands by the Phoenicians. In 1274 Forte Sant? Angelo or Castrum Maris (Castle of the Sea) as it was known at the time consisted of two fortified enclosures with circular towers at regular intervals. After 1530 it became the headquarters of the order of San Giovanni and host? even the residence of the Grand Master. Over the years there were many works for the expansion and fortification of the Fort, in 1565 during the great siege it had a fundamental defense role, coordinating the defensive strategies day after day, devast? the batteries of the ottoman and ruin? the plan of the besiegers to attack Senglea on 15 July. The Fort also played fundamental roles in the first and second world wars, in 1906 the Mediterranean fleets of the Royal Navy transferred? his command center in the Fort and he only left it in March 1979. (practically the day before yesterday).
Yes ? at lunchtime we would like to stop in some restaurant, but you should know that in Malta at 17.00 all the sites and museums close, so a quick sandwich and we continue towards the hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni, an underground structure excavated between about 3600 BC and 2500 BC It is believed that it was originally a sanctuary, which became a necropolis in prehistoric times. ? the only prehistoric underground temple in the world, it was discovered by chance in 1902, when workers who were cutting cisterns for new homes broke the ceiling. The first level closely resembles the tombs discovered in Xemxija. Some rooms are actually? artificially enlarged natural caves, from scientific examinations yes? learned that the first level and the pi? ancient. The second level was created when the ancient builders decided that the first was no longer? enough, this level is only 10 meters below street level and shows excellent skills. in the stone carving, in this level you can see important rooms, such as the main room, the Holy of Holies, the Oracle room and the Snake Hole a two meter high hole that could have been used to keep snakes, or to collect alms. Finally the third level which is supposed to have been used as a deposit, probably for wheat. A very important note if you want to visit this Hypogeum you have to book well in advance, the entrance? allowed by reservation only for only 60 guests per day. After visiting this spectacular site we return to the hotel to freshen up and be ready for the evening, we decide to find a better place to eat and logic suggests Marsa Scirocco (Marsaxlokk) a fishing village located in the south-east of the island around to the Bay of the same name, Marsaxlokk literally means Port of the sirocco and with its colorful boats? one of the most? characteristic of the whole island as well as being the most? rich in fish, especially swordfish, tuna and dolphin fish, they are caught in abundance in the period between spring and autumn. During the week the catch is sold in Valletta, while on Sundays directly in the harbor. So we just have to try this fish in a restaurant on the seafront. was suggested, expectations were met, paccheri with seafood, tuna and catch of the day as well as a delicious Sicilian cannoli are our dinner. Satisfied, we return to the hotel.



4 day

In a flash we are already? in the middle? holiday, this is our destination today? the island Gozo, we leave earlier than usual from our Hotel and reach with some difficulty, due to traffic, the port of Cirkewwa where an incessant ferry service shuttles between the main island and Gozo. Arrived on the island of Gozo after a crossing of only 20 minutes, we begin our visits with the Museum of Archeology in the citadel of Victoria. The museum ? housed in a house of 17? century that was originally known as Casa Bondi, it is a two-story building with a symmetrical austere facade, with a carved stone balcony above the front door. The museum ? opened in 1960 as the first public museum in Gozo today? known as the Gozo Archaeological Museum or the National Museum of Archeology and features archaeological finds covering the cultural history of the island of Gozo from the prehistoric to the modern period. We move a few meters and visit the Gran Castello Historic House, this museum? housed in a group of medieval houses on via Bernardo DeOpuo and hosting a wide range of exhibits illustrating the local, rural and traditional way of life, these houses dating back to the 1600s were used for this function in 1983. Adjacent to the Gran Castello there are le Vecchie Prigioni (Old Prison) the prison complex? divided into two different buildings: the atrium, which had been a common cell in 19? century, and an independent block with six individual cells. The prison complex? remained active until 1962. Before leaving the Citadel we visit the Natural History Museum also housed in three connected 1600 domestic buildings, the museum collection? distributed over two floors, on the ground floor? represented the geology, minerals, human and animal evolution and marine life of Malta, in the museum? present a small moonstone brought to earth by the crew of Apollo 2 and donated to the Maltese people by President Nixon. The upper floor is dedicated to the flora and fauna of the island, in the small rear garden there are typical indigenous plants, including the Maltese rock Centaury, the Maltese national plant.
We leave the Citadel and reach the temples of Ggantija in Xagnra, one of the most ancient archaeological sites. important of the Maltese islands, the site? consisting of two temples dating back to between 3600 and 3200 BC, the name Ggantija derives from ggant, a Maltese word which means Giants as the site? associated with a race of giants. The temples are in excellent condition, this is due to the hard coral limestone used for the external walls, while for the furnishings, altars and decorative slabs the much more Globigerina limestone was used. soft. The remains of animal bones suggest that rituals involving the sacrifice of them were performed in these temples. There are many stone hearths and many libation holes in the floor that may have been used for pouring liquid offerings. We leave this magnificent archaeological site and reach our last destination in Gozo, the Ta Kola Windmill, one of the few surviving windmills on the Maltese islands. The name Ta Kola? probably linked to the name of the last miller known as Zeppu (Giuseppe) ta Kola (son of Nikola). On the ground floor of the mill you can see the workshop rooms containing a wide range of tools, while on the first floor there are the miller's quarters furnished with traditional furniture and objects related to Gozitan crafts. We leave the Mill and also the island of Gozo heading towards our Hotel but at the usual point, the usual traffic, unfortunately, to reach the port of Cirkewwa and to return to Valletta there? a? single road (road 1) with two-way traffic but in certain points? only two meters wide and the traffic jam? inevitable, however we arrive at our hotel on schedule (more or less) and spend the evening in the historic center of Valletta.



5 day

Have we been in Malta for five days? we haven't had a swim yet, so today we dedicate it to relaxing on the beach. Malta doesn't have many beaches, the coast? mostly? jagged, we reach the beach of Golden Bay Beach in the locality? Melliena north-west of Malta, here there are three beaches, one next to the other divided by mountain spurs, the Prima Golden Bay precisely? the "P? big but? very crowded so we choose the second reachable after going down (then you have to go up them) 186 steps, the beach? pi? small than the first but more? quiet, finally the third beach? a cove reachable by boat or after a very long walk in the hills, we stay on the beach until 17.00 pm (the umbrella and deckchair rental service closes at 18.00 pm) then we return to the hotel.

6 day

For this day we have already booked? from Italy an excursion in Catamaran, then we reach the port of Bugibba, our tour starts from this locality, we anticipate our arrival and before embarking we visit the international aquarium of Malta, the aquarium is not? great but? well done, the structure is new and well maintained, inside there is also a bar / restaurant and a souvenir shop. At the end of our visit to the aquarium we reach the boarding point, we board our catamaran and set sail. Sailing along the coast we admire the wonderful cliffs of Malta, the bays and the beautiful inlets, reachable only by boat, we touch the small island of San Paolo where? post the statue of the apostle. We make the first stop at the spectacular crystal lagoon and as soon as they give us the green light we begin a series of dives in crystal clear water, after about an hour and a half we leave to reach the pi? famous Blue Lagoon (crowded) moored the catamaran we reach the small beach and dive into turquoise waters, also here we stay for about an hour and a half, then once dry we explore the island of Comino with a small organized tour, finally around 17.00 we leave for Bugibba. For the evening we decide to go back to that Sicilian restaurant in Marsaxlokk, but when we get to the place they tell us that there isn't? place, being Saturday you had to book, in fact the town? overrun with people, (we book for Sunday) we opt for another restaurant already? spotted previously, being much more? big maybe we are lucky and in fact even if we wait half an hour we can have dinner and also good.

7 day

Last full day at our disposal, we respected almost to the letter the program we had set for ourselves, for this last day we still have to see the old capital of Malta or Mdina a small city? enclosed in the walls now almost uninhabited, but a whole day? so we decide to relax for a few hours in the spa of our hotel and around 12.00 we leave for Mdina. Let's start our sightseeing tour from Rabat, the city? outside the walls and we visit the Catacombs of San Paolo. These Catacombs are located outside Mdina why? Roman law prohibited burials inside the city. This site represents the first and the most? great archaeological evidence of Christianity in Malta. The complex is divided into two large areas in which more than 30 hypogea are scattered, the main complex includes a system of interconnected underground passages and tombs and covers over 2000 square meters. We leave this site and continue towards Mdina, exactly at the gates of the walls there? the Domus Romana, a small museum built around the remains of a Roman aristocratic house discovered by chance in 1881, in this museum we observe many artifacts from the Roman era including beautiful mosaics. Do we leave the Domus and enter the city? of Mdina, immediately on the right in a 1700s Baroque-style building is the National Museum of Natural History inaugurated in 1973, the various areas of the museum cover various topics such as Maltese geology and paleontology, exotic mammals, insects, shells are exhibited and birds. There? there is also a room dedicated to the skeletal anatomy of vertebrates and one dedicated to minerals. We leave the Museum of Natural History and we go through the streets of the city? that I personally would define a city? ghost, in fact, except on the main street there? soul, and given the time (only 18.00) the souvenir shops are preparing to close. We go to the cathedral of St. Paul, the church? It was built on the spot where the governor Publius would have met Saint Paul after the shipwreck on the coast of the island of Malta of the ship carrying him to Rome. In adjacent premises that served as a seminary now there? a museum where collections of coins, liturgical silver, religious vestments and some woodcuts are exhibited. With the visit to the cathedral ends our stay in Mdina, the stomach reminds us that for the evening we have an appointment at 21.00, then we return to the hotel and after the sanitizing shower we go back to Marsa Scirocco where our Sicilians are waiting for us. We could not end our holidays in Malta with an excellent dinner and an air of home, I state that when I travel I prefer to immerse myself in everyday life? of the place and I am looking for a typical food, but here in Malta there is no real one? own kitchen, the only dish present in all the men? of Malta? the rabbit that frankly not? my forte. We say goodbye to our Sicilian friends and return to the hotel where we spend our last night in Malta. We are at the end of our adventure on this small island, with our Doblo we have moved far and wide visiting the most? possible now?

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