If one is nostalgic for ”look right, look left and look right again” crossing road drills, for pillar-box red and ditto telephone kiosques then there’s a little island (or three as we discovered) not far from Italy which will satiate any ex-pat nostalgia: Malta. Unfortunately, in a spate of rationalization the antique British Leyland buses have been replaced by the latest models and are now run by Arriva (as in London). But one can seek comfort for this loss by eating the most delicious pasties (Pastizzi) outside Cornwall.
Of course, these islands have a lot more to offer: from the most ancient prehistoric monuments in all Europe, through the ostentatious glories of the reign of the Knights of Saint John to the relics of the British occupation, including Second World War fortifications. Malta and Gozo are often described as unwanted barren rocks stuck at a roundabout in the middle of the Med where Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Neapolitans, Turks, Aragonese and Brits have come and gone, but we found a lot more than barrenness. In little less than a week we admired the views from Dingle cliffs, attended a baroque opera in one of the oldest theatres in Europe, savoured the leisured living in an aristocratic town house, wandered through Arab-like streets in ancient medinas, discovered where Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall lived as Popeye and Olive Oyle and (most of all) forgot the gloomy winter weather we had left in Val di Lima.
Summer holidays are great but, in my opinion, winter holidays can be even greater. We’re making a journey somewhere south a regular appointment in cold seasons here – (last year it was Sicily)
Here a few glimpses of the enchanted islands of Malta and Gozo: