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Past glories and benefaction delights: The beauty of stately Malta revealed

September 24th, 2015 by admin | Filed under Blog.

Rosa Monckton For Mail On Sunday



I spent many happy childhood summers in Malta. 

I learnt to float in a Blue Lagoon, and have clear memories of examination a Lija Festa fireworks from my great-aunt’s villa. I am one-sixteenth Maltese, and a island is full of my Maltese cousins, so it was smashing to return.

I felt a initial frisson of fad when we saw a particular Maltese Cross on a Air Malta aeroplane, and a second when we arrived during a Phoenicia hotel, only outward a gateway to a ancestral city of Valletta. 

Grand design: Historic city, Valletta, was combined by a Knights of St John

Grand design: Historic city, Valletta, was combined by a Knights of St John

There is a mill board on a wall of a hotel, announcing that it was ‘Erected during a Command of a Lady Strickland Countess Della Catena’ who was my step great-great-grandmother. The hotel was strictly non-stop by her in 1947, and it stays a grandest in Malta.

Valletta is a stately city and a story is second to nothing in drama. 

The Knights of St John and a Maltese fought off Suleyman a Magnificent when he laid encircle to a island in 1565. After their victory, a Knights laid skeleton to build a fortified city unaware a Grand Harbour. 

Its scale is startling and it has a loftiness that has not been broken by a appearance of tourism.

Malta has an undeservedly down-market reputation: inexpensive flights and cheaper splash has rendered some tools of a island identical to English city centres on a Saturday night. 

However, there are so many informative glories to feast upon. Most fantastic is St John’s Co-Cathedral. Not even St Peter’s in Rome exceeds a interior for perfect gold-leaf exuberance.

Outside Valletta, a many fantastic of all Malta’s palazzos – if we will pardon a small nepotism – is a Villa Bologna. This was my great- great-grandfather’s house, and is still lived in by Stricklands today. 

Gateway to Valletta: The Phoenicia hotel was strictly non-stop  in 1947 and stays a grandest in Malta

Gateway to Valletta: The Phoenicia hotel was strictly non-stop in 1947 and stays a grandest in Malta

Twenty minutes’ expostulate from Valletta, it is dark divided in a unobtrusive city of Attard. 

However, it is good famous to party-planners for a super-rich; on a day we visited it was hosting a marriage of a Ukrainian oligarch. But we were some-more than happy holding a lunch in a recently non-stop Villa Kitchen, confronting a classically desirous gardens.

If it’s grand views we seek, afterwards there is no softened end than a ancient collateral of Mdina. High adult in a centre of a island, it is a outpost town. 

It also contains a select Xara Palace boutique hotel. we was rather nonplussed to see how stylish it had become. In my 20s we would spend time with my Great Aunt Mabel (who afterwards owned it) knocking behind cocktails in a clearly scabby bar.

As we was with my father Dominic, who regards lunch and cooking as some-more critical than culture, we did good on a gourmandising. 

In Valletta a best find was a bistro in Old Bakery Street called Guze. Outside Valletta, there is St Julian’s, an Italian grill in Spinola Bay. Another harbourside find was Terrone in Marsaxlokk. This, too, is for lovers of Italian cuisine and is a poetic mark for a regretful dinner.

When we was a teen in Malta it took a dauntless chairman to splash a internal wine. However, it is most improved. we visited a Maria Rosa vineyards next Mdina and was bowled over by a peculiarity of a wines. 

We brought several bottles and they tasted as tasty when we non-stop them in a kitchen – and drank to another visit.


Air Malta ( offers lapse flights from Gatwick to Malta from £171, formed on transport in October. 

Double bedrooms during Phoenicia Hotel start from £110 per night. Visit or call 0800 862 0025. For some-more information on holidays in Malta and Gozo, see

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