SIGGIEWI – MALTA
I doubt many tourists go to Siggiewi, the delightful village in Malta that we were lucky enough to stay in. The only reason we landed up there was because a friend of a friend had suggested we rent a house there that belonged to a friend of a friend…. you know how it goes, sometimes it works out and sometimes it does not. This suggestion turned out perfectly!
Siggiewi or Citta Ferdinand as some of the locals still call it is perfectly situated to explore Malta. It is only a couple of kilometers from Mdina, the ancient capital city of Malta and about 10 kilometers from Valetta, today’s capital city.
The only tourists we saw were usually people on the public bus who were on their way through Siggiewi and who perhaps jumped off to take a look at the beautiful baroque St Nicholas Parish Church. We stayed in a beautifully restored Maltese house a couple of blocks from the Main Square.
We soon became used to the bells ringing every hour and, after a few days, we felt like we were already part of the community. Neighbours would greet us, we had found a lovely little pub called Ferdinand’s across the road from the church, they had free Wi-Fi, delicious local lunches like Timpana (baked macaroni) and all the “men” hung out there, as they tend to do in these places….chatting, drinking beer and generally having a good time!
On our first evening, we were directed to the local take-a-way pizza shop, called “Sugar & Spice”
We found the name rather amusing for a “pizza” place, but then a lot of the names of the
The Petrol Station dated back to the 60’s,
and I loved the little “general dealer” (see pic below). It really looked like just a hole in the wall, but when you went inside it was packed to the brim, so neat and tidy and the owner, extremely proud of his shop.
Hubby made a visit to the local Police Station….also on the main square….we had been
given a parking fine….say no more…
MDINA – MALTA
The only downside to staying in Siggiewi was that there were no restaurants but, this turned out to be a PLUS as it forced us to take a drive down the road, literally about 10 mins drive away, to the delightful walled city of Mdina.
We only ever went into Mdina in the evenings, usually at about 6.30ish just as the sun was going down. This is the perfect time to visit this beautiful medieval city. We had heard that it was very busy during the day with tourists, but in the evening, it lived up to its name, “The Silent City”. There are about 300 residents living within the walls of the city and only delivery vehicles and a couple of residents are allowed to take cars in. I am sure there is nothing “silent” about Mdina during the day, but at night, it has a certain mystery about it and it is pretty silent!
One can almost feel the ghosts from hundreds, actually thousands of years ago swirling about the narrow alleyways. It’s magical and very romantic. Ancient lamps cast subdued lighting on the medieval buildings, there is a hushed quietness and together with the very narrow cobbled roads, shuttered windows and almost deserted atmosphere, it’s pretty spooky.
Mdina and its suburb Rabat can be traced back more than 4000 years when Mdina was inhabited by the Phoenicians around 700BC….as I said ghosts….
You can easily walk around the city in about half an hour, but, if you want to visit any of the excellent cultural treasures, you need to take the plunge and go during the day. There are numerous palaces, many still occupied by noble families and St Paul’s Cathedral is definitely worth a visit, but the mixture of unusual medieval, Norman and Baroque architecture is a highlight.
There are a couple of good restaurants to choose from and a fantastic view point at the one end of the City, where you can see as far as Valetta, an excellent spot to watch the sunset. Mdina was our place of choice to eat out, much more romantic and charming than Valetta…..
THE BLUE GROTTO – MALTA
I am not a water baby in any way, but, I do make the exception for the Mediterranean Sea. I first experienced swimming in the Med on a gulet in Turkey, then off a boat in Croatia and another wonderful experience in Greece. So, I was looking for a really good place to take the plunge once again. I am not that partial to swimming directly from a beach as the water is usually quite shallow, I wanted that deep, clear aquamarine water that you get when swimming off the back of a boat and I found it!
We visited Malta’s famous Blue Grotto on a Sunday morning. We had been advised to go before 11am as the colour of the water was at its best so were there by about 9.30am. Wied iz-Zurieq consists really of only one street with a couple of cafe type restaurants and souvenir shops. This leads down to a sea inlet which makes up the little harbour where the boats are ready to ferry you on a 25 minute trip to not only the Blue Grotto which is one of the largest caves but also to several others with names like, Cat’s Cave, Elephant Foot and Honeymoon Cave.
These caves have been naturally formed right into the rock face of the Cliffs and the beautiful shades of blue to turquoise water are amazing. Stalactites hang from the roofs and one is mesmerized by glittering phosphorescent colours mirroring underwater flora and coral.
I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, but, what perked my interest was that there were a lot of locals swimming in the gorge in the harbour – it looked fabulous and I decided immediately that we needed to return when it was less busy….Needless to say, the next morning, we were there by 7.30am. It was breathtaking. The boats just bobbing quietly about, the water perfect and only one other person there. We got to know him quite well over the next couple of days, he was a retired gentleman who lived in the village and swam every day. At about 8ish, a group of local ladies would come down to swim and also at about that time, the divers and snorkelers would arrive.
We usually swam for about half an hour, and then took a walk around the Cliffs to dry off where we would watch the lone fisherman going about their business. By the time we walked back up to our car, the first signs of business activity would be beginning.
It really was a special place, swimming in that deep gorge with the cliffs looming over us, so peaceful, really good for the soul!
Travelling is about finding the unexpected. Don’t you just love it when you find that there are still “simple” unexpected pleasures to be found in this day and age?
If you enjoyed this, perhaps you would like to read “25 Words that describe my impressions of Malta” click HERE