I found Malta seeping history from every balcony, palace and decadent building, with Valletta being the treasure trove of the island’s vast history and rich cultural legacy.
While going there is to see the melting pot of cultures shaped by the Arab occupation, the Roman Empire and the Ottoman Turks, brief French rule and the dominance of the British, the air of nobility and aristocratic grandeur, ignited by the visions of the Knights of St John, also shines through.
For many visitors, the doors to the 400-year-old aristocratic lineage that defines Malta is found in key sites including St John’s Co-Cathedral, the Grandmaster’s Palace, the Manoel Theatre and the Royal Opera house.
However, as much as nobility in Malta is slowly fading out, I soon dug around and found that traces of this particular history have not yet vanished for the casual visitor.
I stayed in the indulgent, but affordable, Palazzo Prince D’Orange – one of the lovingly restored buildings with a noble, grand atmosphere.
Just a few metres away, I found Casa Rocca Piccola, to which I was first drawn to after seeing a sign for a tour of the house that included a visit to its World War II air raid shelters.
I soon joined the tour of this privately owned and still occupied family home – a living museum to a noble family lineage.
The owner, Nicholas de Piro, wasn’t home, but I soon learnt that he is related to my friend’s family. This friend, Alex, is a travel buddy I met nearly two years ago on a trip to North Korea. It turns out he kept his family heritage quiet until I arrived in Malta where we had arranged a reunion.
His family is a descendant of the Testaferratas, and while their stunning home in Żebbuġ isn’t of noble heritage, generations of Maltese history and much-loved family antiques blanket the 700-year-old property.
They are listed on Airbnb now, so you too can stay with them and meet a well-known noble islander, Colonel Bencini.
Centuries-old history is being kept alive by today’s generation, and I’m glad I got to soak up the grandeur of a long line of noble lineage while it is still present.
I found it was certainly a key part of Malta’s historical make-up and present-day persona.
• Read more about Becki’s travels – she is particularly interested in southeast and east Asia, and the Middle East – at www.BordersofAdventure.com. Find her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/bordersofadventure; Twitter: www.twitter.com/ bordersofadv; and Instagram: www.instagram.com/bordersofadventure.
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