Touring Valletta, Malta. 9/23/21

Since we pretty much want to avoid people, we decide that we are going to have breakfast in our room or out on the balcony most days. The balcony on our cabin is pretty nice with a table and 4 chairs (for all our non-guests) and a chaise lounge big enough for two people.

Mary out on the balcony with Mediterranean Sea in background
Double chaise lounge!
John having breakfast in the living room of our suite

Today we are going on a excursion in Valletta. We view many of the beautiful golden limestone (Globigerina limestone) buildings with their Maltese balconies and various fountains and monuments. The old buildings and the modern ones blend harmoniously due to the use of the limestone which is the only building material available on the five islands that make up Malta.

Christ with a pigeon on his head
Triton fountain constructed in 1955
Walls constructed to withstand the siege of the Ottomans in 1565
Gate to the city and Parliament building with honeycomb front
Pedestrian main street in Valletta. Apartments above the arcade on the left side are government subsidized for about €500 a year. Only caveat is no laundry can be hung out!
Building with fancy Maltese balconies
John on tour!
Statue of Jean de Valette for whom the city is named. He was instrumental in defending Malta against the Turks and was Grand Master of the Knight of Malta.
View from the Upper Barrakka Gardens with the Saluting Battery below and overlooking the harbor. One canon is shot off at noon each day.
Looking out towards the Mediterranean Sea
Our ship docked below the garden and battery area

While we have a restroom stop I busy myself taking a picture of a cat and myself. The Maltese have a comprehensive program for their feral cats neutering them so the city is not overrun with cats. A small cut in a cat’s ear indicates if the cat has been neutered.

Maltese cat
Mary selfie

Now we progress to St. John’s Co-Cathedral which is a high point on the excursion. Along with many other churches based on what sect of the Maltese Knights, the cathedral is plain on the outside and resplendent on the interior. This church contains two famous Caravaggio paintings, The Beheading of St. John and St. Jerome Translating the Hebrew Bible.

Outside of St. John’s Co-Cathedral
Fancy interior. There are side chapels dedicated to each of the eight Knights of Malta jurisdictions. It is why the Maltese cross has eight points.
Walls are covered with gold gilt sculpturing
The main event! Caravaggio’s Beheading of St. John. Note use of chiaroscuro and Caravaggio’s trademark use of red pigment.
In a side room we see Caravaggio’s much smaller St. Jerome Translating the Hebrew Bible. St. jerome’s attributes, the skull and his red hat hanging on the wall are present. We look for his usual lion companion but it is hard to make out what is in the background.

Leaving the church we do some more walking and end up at a building where we will hear a lecture about the Knights of Malta. Our small group is looking a bit bedraggled at this point since we have been on our feet for two hours and temperatures are in the 80s with fairly high humidity. So really the best part of the lecture is that we get to sit down in an air conditioned room. A Knight, Dane Munro, tells us all about what the organization does today which seems to be charitable work with a heavy overlay of Catholicism.

We return to the ship for a late lunch and I try to make some good choices but am thwarted by too many people lined up for salads and fish. We are not allowed to serve ourselves due to pandemic protocols and it really slows things down. I manage to get a salad plate but give up on the fish and opt for a plate of pasta where there is no line.

We return to our room and pass out for the next three hours. (Zzzzzz)

Dinner tonight is at Manfredi’s Italian restaurant. It is mostly very good although the first thing we order, branzino carpaccio, is not available. Apparently too many of the earlier dinners ate it all up.

One thought on “Touring Valletta, Malta. 9/23/21”

  1. I love your balcony! I’d eat out there all the time, too! The trip is sounding better and better!!

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