Image Courtesy © www.ViewingMalta.com
Valletta is the tiny capital of Malta, the Mediterranean island nation that occupies the second part of this idyllic Interlude. The walled city was established in the 1500s on a peninsula by the Knights of St. John, a Roman Catholic order; here you will enjoy baroque palaces, gardens, grand churches and cathedrals and so much more including a cruise around the harbor.
The Maltese Islands might be described as an open-air museum. The countryside is dotted with the oldest known human structures in the world, and the narrow meandering streets in the villages are filled with Old World charm.
Geographically, the Maltese archipelago consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino and lies virtually in the middle of the Mediterranean. Malta is the largest island and the cultural center; Gozo is the second largest island and is more rural, categorized by fishing, tourism, crafts and agriculture and Comino is mostly uninhabited.
Blessed with mostly sunny weather and over 7,000 years of captivating history, there is a much to see and do. The islands have an eclectic culture based on the various nationalities that occupied Malta over time thus creating a unique and fascinating style and tradition with the national languages being English and Maltese.
Maltese food is rustic in character, full of the flavor and color influenced by Malta’s proximity to Sicily and North Africa but with its own unique slant. The cuisine is typically Mediterranean in that it relies heavily on locally available produce such as tomatoes, honey, olives and other vegetables. You absolutely must try some of the traditional Maltese food on this Mediterranean Interlude.
Kinnie is a soft drink produced only in Malta you either love Kinnie or you hate it but you must try it! It’s a drink that has a bittersweet flavor that it owes to a particular type of bitter orange that you’re unlikely to have tasted before. It’s also a great mixer to try with spirits like vodka and rum and usually tastes best cold.
Pastizzi are the most popular savory snack on the islands. Pastizzi look like croissants, but are rolled in a flaky pastry, stuffed with either salty ricotta or mushy peas. They’re typically bought from little tuckshops or pastizzerias, nestled in almost every corner of every village.
Aljotta: with access to a range of deliciously fresh seafood, fish features heavily in the Maltese cuisine and Aljotta is regional hearty fish stew, thickened out with garlic, tomatoes, and rice.
Gbejna: The cheese of Malta is generally sheep’s milk, eaten fresh like a mozzarella or air-dried and often rolled in pepper and pickled in vinegar, herbs or left naked. The air-dried version has a nutty piquancy that is lovely. It is often mixed into a pasta or grated onto pizza.
Imqaret: The Maltese love their sweet treats, and you’ll notice plenty of patisseries lining the streets of the towns. Many of the sweeter dishes are packaged in a flaky layer of pastry and Imqaret is no different, featuring an outer wrapper of fried pastry stuffed with a thick layer of date paste. This sweet treat is a must on your culinary adventure!
Do make it a point to try some locally produced wine. Malta may not be known for wine production, but Maltese vintages are continuing to hold their own at international competitions, winning several awards.
Please read the complete itinerary for this guided vacation to Sicily & Malta and consider making this adventure part of your upcoming travel plans.
Eadie, Interlude Blog Team
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