Sunday, October 5, 2014

Our accommodation just the start of Valletta's many charms

Back at the palazzo Frank told us all about his beautiful home. Built in the 1600s, Frank’s family owned it for many years before one relative lost it gambling and it did not come back to the family until Frank  bought it several years ago. Apparently the original family fortune was built on profits from corsairing and slave trading. It was seen as a much more favourable profession than going into the church — that was for lower classes! In fact our host looked like a bit of a swashbuckler himself.

The thick-stone entrance way was originally intended for carriages. The house was only used for one month each year, when the family came in from the countryside. The servants, who lived in the house year-round, would be relegated to the stable area - warm in the winter thanks to the horses but unbearable in summer. The family would also use the house if they had to come into town to prepare for a big event such as a wedding.

We were invited to go upstairs to see Frank’s living area, which was filled with beautiful antique Maltese furniture made from Maltese hard woods, such as olive wood, and some of it inlaid with ebony. There are few trees today in Malta. He showed us a scimitar and a knife in an ornate sheath that was used in Jewish circumcision ceremonies. This knife was worn out in one particular spot. It does make you shiver a little. Finally, we ended up in our apartment with a lovely view over the chimney tops of Valletta and part of the busy harbour.

We spotted an outdoor restaurant that appeared to be popular with locals and sat down for a lovely lunch of swordfish steak, something we don't see often in Spain. Not much of the afternoon was left by now but enough for us to visit the local Marks and Spencer's and wander around the narrow side streets. Eventually we ended up on the other side of Valletta and took the little ferry across the water to Sliema, a very modern built up town. We wandered along the promenade looking at all the tour boats.

We returned to Valletta by bus, and found a lovely little Italian bistro, where we had salad and fabulous rabbit ravioli for dinner. A perfect ending to a very long day.

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