“Maltese like to enjoy life”. This is what my Maltese Mummies – as I call them – told me when I first asked them to describe the Maltese.
Actually even the first Maltese that I met in Rome some years ago, referred to Malta as a lively place full of restaurants, cafeterias and all sorts of events…because Maltese like to enjoy their life!
Notte Bianca 2016 with seventy thousand visitors, was a perfect example of successful enjoyment.
A Saturday night in the Capital City Valletta, full of colourful lights, live music, dancing…fantastic! I mean not just for the Maltese but also the many tourists and explorers like me 😉
What I really liked about Notte Bianca is that everything was open and free to the public, outside of the usual daytime hours. So you have the occasion to explore shops, museums and places with a pleasant background of music, laughter and chattering, with that feeling in you (that I particularly like) that the day has not finished yet, in fact it has just begun!
This is the atmosphere of Notte Bianca and “Atmosfera” is the Italian word that the Arts Council Malta has chosen to indicate the fringe programme of events inspired by the City’s hustle.
Churches, State Palaces (including the Parliament Palace) and museums were open until the early hours, hosting exhibitions and performances. At the same time, streets and piazzas were transformed into hosts for open-air theatrics and concerts.
As Nick and I arrived at the entrance of Valletta, approaching the piazza Teatru Rjal we were welcomed by the live orchestra, who interpreted some famous songs from L-Għanja Tal-Poplu 40 (music in Maltese).
Walking along the main Republic Street, we came across the Tikka Banda (a streamlined version of the Maltese Banda) in full flow, who were marching along Valletta’s Streets. Nick was very impressed with them and mentioned that this was his favourite music moment of the event
We couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the St John’s Co-Cathedral, especially as it was Nick’s first time. I can guarantee that for anyone entering the cathedral for the first time, their eyes will light up at the sheer beauty of the interior!
To be honest I was as surprised as Nick, even though it wasn’t my first visit!
The Cathedral always amazes me, one visit is simply not enough to totally satisfy my eyes of all its beauty!
The Co-Cathedral is certainly famous, not only for the exquisite baroque decorations but also for the presence of two Caravaggio Masterpieces.
The décor was commissioned by different families of the Order of the Knights of St John, including the impressive paintings along the ceiling by the Italian Mattia Preti (known as “Il Calabrese”).
So a visit to the Co-Cathedral is a must to immerse yourself in the astonishing gold and marble interior, especially in the Maltese period of The Knights and Caravaggio’s life. Truly a unique experience!
Another masterpiece that a visitor can enjoy comes from the Neolithic era,
The Sleeping Lady
Discovered at the Hypogeum, the only prehistoric underground temple in the world, it is now hosted at the Archaeological Museum.
That statue evokes a deep sense of respect in me, admiration and also curiosity about our forefathers. We are speaking about 3600 years BC and this statuette is masterfully refined with many details.
The Sleeping Lady to me represents more than a statuette, it is a symbol of a society based probably on the cult of Mother Earth, another story that I will tell you in my next article.
Apart from enjoying the joyful crowded Valletta and its ‘Atmosfera’,
whilst sipping a soya latte I gazed at the families,
happy teenagers and group of friends joining in the celebrations…
… Our last exploration was the Palace of the Prime Minister, known as “Auberge of Castile, Leon and Portugal”, open and beautifully adorned for the Notte Bianca.
It is a charming palace, intriguing to tour the venue where the country’s top politicians and World Leaders discuss what’s next.
What I was very grateful for was a gift that the Office Of the Prime Minister gave to all the visitors on leaving, a collection of quality pictures depicting Valletta during the period from 1870 -1910…Wow, we were really excited!