School Blog

Articles in this blog may be ESE news, academics pieces written by our team or events in Malta of general interest.

Pleasantly surprised; a visitor’s delight!

Not famous for its wildlife and nature and despite being small, Malta has a wealth of diversity just waiting to be explored. With several endemic species, panoramic views, crystal clear waters, accessible coastlines, varied countryside and alluring settlements, this country is a treasure waiting to be discovered.

The scorching summer has now abated and the milder temperatures usher in a more active and dynamic lifestyle. Energy levels are on the up and it’s at this time of year that we venture out from our air conditioned homes or from the sun lounger to seek out different pastures.

The Maltese archipelago acts as a magnet for both novice and seasoned hikers. Morning, afternoon and day hikes are all popular. The best times to explore the islands are from mid-November to mid-May. Lace-up your trainers or simply hire a bike and just take-off. The parched summer landscape has been refreshed by the winter rains, which breathes new life into the islands. Suddenly the once sleeping landscape is green and lush with carpets of wild flowers and herbs mushroom from every nook and cranny. The cities bustle with trade and activity.

Stunning views await those willing to venture just a short distance from their comfort zones. Built-up areas are mainly concentrated around the Grand Harbour and offer the tourist a multitude of sites to visit on foot or otherwise. Delve further afar and discover an astonishing range of rural landscapes. Cliff-hugging coastlines, clay covered hillsides, rocky scarps, undulating valleys dissected by small water channels, fields sprouting an abundance of new life, forests, garrigue, caves, cart ruts, prehistoric sites, wayside chapels, hidden temples, numerous relics to past civilizations all lay in wait. In short, sites worth visiting are bountiful in both rural and urban areas.

In a country with more World Heritage Sites per kilometre squared than anywhere else in the world, I recommend a walk around Valletta, Malta’s capital city. If you’re staying in the Sliema/St Julians areas saunter down to the ‘Ferries’ in Sliema and take the boat to Valletta. It takes less than 10 minutes. Marvel at the imposing fortifications and proceed up the hill to the summit of the bastions. Turn left and proceed along the defensive wall admiring the cosmopolitan backdrop of the Sliema waterfront, as well as the baroque architecture that greets you. Fort St Elmo at the head of the Mount Sciberras Peninsula is where the gallant knights of St John defended Malta against determined invaders. It now houses the National War Museum. The Knights Hospitallers is the next building worth a visit and it was here that the Order cared for the infirmed and dying. Continue walking in a clockwise direction and pass Lower Barrakka Gardens, one of the few recreational areas allowed by the Grand Master in this water-deficient capital city. Spectacular views across the Grand Harbour to the ‘Three Cities’ await. Even better views are afforded at the Upper Barrakka Gardens perched on the highest point of the peninsular. Cut across this Baroque gem by taking Melita Street and follow the directions to the ferry. If you have the time explore Valletta’s interior, with its innumerable historic structures and have lunch or dinner in one of the many bistros that haunt the city’s squares. This is a great way to get to see the sights and culture of Malta.

And don’t forget your camera!

Focus on Fluency

endemic (adj) – species found only in a few areas

scorching (adj) – incredibly hot

abated (v) – become less intense or strong

usher (v) – marks the start of something new

lush (adj) – abundant and healthy

mushroom (v) – spread, grow rapidly

nook and cranny (n) – every part of the place, everywhere

delve (v) – search in order to find something

sprouting (v) – producing leaves, growing

wayside (adj) – the side or edge of a road, way or path

saunter (v)– to take a leisurely walk

marvel (v) – to be filled with wonder or astonishment

bastions (n) –large fortified defensive walls often surrounding a settlement

infirmed n) – feeble or weak in body or health

Author: Simon Vincenti

About the Author: Simon Vincenti is the Academic Year Course Administrator at ESE. He read Politics and Sociology at Trent University and gained both his PGCE and CELTA qualification from Cambridge University. He enjoys playing, coaching and watching rugby and is keen on Maltese History and Culture.