Friday, October 26, 2012
Grand Tour, Part 11—A Detour on the Road Home: Malta
Malta is a tiny island just to the south of Sicily, but its strategic location, between Italy and Africa, has made it a contested place for centuries. Nearly 300 years before we set foot on it, King Charles of Spain ceded it to the Knights of St. John (and the portion of them on the island became known as the Knights of Malta). This Order protected pilgrims traveling back and forth between Europe and the Holy Land, and rescued those who had been attacked at sea. Many of the beautiful churches, palaces, and gardens in Malta stem from their time on the island. Their rule only ended with the arrival of Bonaparte.
So, sweeping churches, majestic palaces, peaceful gardens, stunning artwork, and . . . men in uniform! What more could a girl want?
On the way back to our hotel, we are verses a little more authentic: by singers playing Maltese songs, as sweet and spicy as the culture from which they sprung. We soak it all up, drink it all in, knowing that shortly, our travels must end. The next stop is Gibraltar, and then home!