Famous for the knights of Malta and for its lovely archipelago, Malta is a destination that easily races to the top of tourists’ to-see list. Though the English influence is still very dominant, Malta’s own cultural roots are very deep and fascinating.
Sitting alone in the Mediterranean Sea, Malta is a popular destination for many travellers. This tiny island has produced the great voice of tenor Joseph Calleja as well as being the place where Coleridge decided to live for a while.
Michelangelo Merisi, best known as Caravaggio, arrived in Malta in 1607. Absconding from Rome, where he was accused of murder and condemned to death penalty, he found in Malta his refugium peccatorumunder; the protection of Alof de Wignacourt, Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller of St. John – known as the Knights of Malta. For his Maltese mentor, Caravaggio painted a few canvasses. In particular,San Gerolamo scriventeis a portrait of the Grand Master, while for the Decollazione del Battista, preserved in the Co-Cathedral of St. John in Valletta, Caravaggio signed his name under the blood of the saint.
Unluckily Caravaggio was imprisoned also in Malta. His escape is still a mystery and it has produced a number of adventurous tales.
Coleridge was aware of the ancient and sweet nature of this island, whose name comes from ‘Melita – Melisse’, the Greek word for ‘bee’. He stayed in Malta where he worked as a Public Secretary, in the hopes of recovering his health. During his Maltese years, he discovered the Mediterranean Sea, and his literary experience is faithfully recollected in his letters. Recently, this topic has been fruitfully studied by Alethea Hayter’s A Voyage in Vain: Coleridge's Journey to Malta in 1804.
Together with the old city of Medina, Gozo is the perfect place to stay. Tourists can spend their time in close contact with nature, exploring the coast, diving towards the enchanting sea bed and visiting the famous cave of Ramla Bay, where Ulysses lived seven years warmly confined by the nymph Calypsos.