Malta’s Culture Pull – Why People Come & Stay

  • 29.April 2014
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Mosta Dome What can be so very tantalising about a tiny island in the Mediterranean? What makes foreigners want to visit it and makes some of them decide to buy property in Malta? Perhaps it’s the sparkling blue sea which surrounds us, or perhaps it’s the nearly year-long sunshine that warms the islands up. Perhaps its the warmth of the people, the friendliness, tax advantage and the forthcoming attitude that makes foreigners feel so much at home and at ease. Perhaps it’s the fact that Malta is a relatively safe country and people from less safe countries feel free to roam around village and town streets even at night – much to their amazement and delight. Or perhaps it’s the uniqueness of its culture, the richness of its history and the wealth of its architecture and art.

Certainly Malta has had its fair share of historic moments and having been governed by so many diverse cultures – a melting pot of traditions and cultural innuendoes – make it extraordinarily special. Take its buildings. The island’s architectural variety spans from pre-historic remains through to the Roman era, then on to Baroque churches and British colonial structures. In between, stylistic details create a walk-through of historic styles and fads so that one can glimpse Arabic, Gothic, Art Nouveau, Contemporary and so much else, if one just looks around carefully. Certainly this makes the island a showcase of much more than your average visitor bargains for.

Take art…. walking into any church (most remain open throughout the day), will reveal an amazing array of artworks. Although most artworks found within churches is strictly of a religious slant, the styles and periods are represented by some of the island’s most respected artists as well as some foreign artists of note – consider Mattia Preti, Caravaggio, Erardi, Perez d’Aleccio, D’Arena, Bellanti, Gagliardi and others. Then there are the sculptures, the icons, and the churches themselves.

hobz-biz-zejtMany visitors are impressed with the language – soft yet harsh, Semitic yet laced with English, Italian and French derivatives that have conformed to the spoken Maltese word so that most Maltese nationals find it very easy to learn languages. Indeed, many Maltese people are polyglots from childhood, knowing firstly Maltese as their mother tongue and English as their second language, proceeding to Italian since Italy is of such close proximity, and other languages learnt at schools.

Consider then the culinary variety of the Maltese diet. Traditionally Mediterranean, it contains very obvious hints of Sicilian cooking, yet includes Arabic and Turkish strains which are then confronted by typical English home cooking. So in one sitting you might be presented with crunchy Maltese bread spread with tomato paste (Maltese), fish soup (Maltese), Shepherd’s Pie (English), Cassatella Siciliana (Sicilian), Fig rolls (Arabic/Turkish origins)….. and you’re still eating regular staples from within the Maltese diet.

You cannot not mention the Maltese homes, all built with limestone, whether it is a House of character or a modern flat located in a condominium development or Special Designated Area.  Some homes in Malta are over 700 years old and have been converted meticulously into lovely properties (even sometimes fitting a swimming pool).  New owners of these homes tend to finish these properties with all mod-cons however they do their utmost to still stay true to the  traditional features that you may have seen in the olden days (birthing room, feeding trough, high ceilings).  If you are thinking of purchasing a house of character in Malta there are only but a few specialists that can assist you.  The conversion of houses of characters in Malta has become its own little niche where it is recommended to only utilise seasoned professionals.

So perhaps all these are just some reasons as to why foreigners are impressed with Malta and its variegated lifestyle. It is the reason why so many foreigners are amazed at how Malta surprises them incessantly on every corner they turn and why, ultimately, they decide to stay here and keep being amazed.

Marika Azzopardi
Post by Marika Azzopardi

Marika Azzopardi is a freelance writer and journalist. A frequent contributor to national English language papers and magazines, she writes about a bevy of topics including art, people and life in general. She is also the author of children’s books and short stories, delving into adult fiction from time to time.