Exploring Malta’s Roman Roots at the Domus Romana Museum

Malta was ruled, occupied and colonized by a great number of different peoples throughout the last few thousand years. Not surprisingly, since the island is in the heart of the Mediterranean, the Romans were among them.

Situated just outside the popular and atmospheric walled city of Mdina is the small Domus Romana Museum. It was once a townhouse for a Roman aristocrat living in the ancient Roman town of Melite, in what is now Mdina and Rabat. (In Latin, domus means ‘home’ or ‘residence’.) It’s believed that it was built in the 1st century CE.

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Putting Malta in the Limelight: Valletta’s Manoel Theatre

From the outside, Malta’s Manoel Theatre is handsome, but unassuming. Step through its main entrance and into the theater though, and the 285-year-old Valletta structure is dazzling – bringing to mind a gilded jewelry box or a terraced wedding cake.

Stopping by this Maltese landmark on an overcast morning uncharacteristic for sunny Malta, Shawn and I were greeted by Josette Portelli, a veteran employee who has been with the Manoel Theatre for more than 40 years.

Upon entering, Josette’s colleagues fumbled with the complicated switchboard at the back of the seating area, trying to illuminate the theater. Soon, the space went from pitch black and mysterious, to opulent and inviting. A delicate chandelier high overhead was the stunning focal point among a sea of smaller crystal sconces, bathing the 65 or so theater boxes with mood lighting.

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Sinking my Teeth into Subotica, Serbia: A Tale of Art Nouveau & Dental Tourism

Sitting in a dentist’s chair half-way around the world from ‘home’, I was told the disappointing news: I had my first, albeit tiny, cavity. Shawn and I had come to Subotica, Serbia to devour its delightful Art Nouveau architecture, but I hadn’t imagined that one of my teeth would be wearing a porcelain souvenir upon our departure from the historic city. While we’d read about Subotica’s gorgeous architecture and promising wine in a New York Times article dubbing it one of 52 Places to Go in 2014, we had only learned about the northern Serbian city’s well-respected dental tourism by chance, once we’d arrived there. Long curious about the medical tourism phenomenon, we sandwiched routine dental check-ups in between a Subotica walking tour, market visit and leisurely strolls.

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Seeing Red: Capturing Malta in Cardinal & Crimson

When we moved to the Mediterranean island of Malta last autumn, we imagined that our leisure time would be devoted to exploring the country’s heritage sites, soaking up the sunshine, and strolling by the inviting blue water that encircles the tiny nation.

Back then, we couldn’t imagine all the red tape that we’d have to ‘cut through’ in order to settle into another new country.

At times, we were feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all.

Once we overcome bureaucratic tasks like securing a visa and finding an apartment, it was time to get acquainted with our new home, which boasts 7,000 years of history and a fervor for festivals.

Not long after we arrived, Malta ‘rolled out the red carpet’ for world leaders who attended a high-profile summit and a meeting of Commonwealth nations. And shortly thereafter, Malta’s communities began ‘painting their towns red’ with traditional saint’s day festivals (festas), and lively celebrations of the Carnival, Christmas, and New Year’s sort.

When we finally had time to appreciate these details, we went from feeling daunted to being delighted by our new surroundings.

As I reminisced upon the past six months on this colorful island, I noticed that red hues are especially plentiful. From the country’s flag, to its crimson-colored phone booths and enclosed balconies, Malta abounds in red.

What follows is a photo essay of some of these vibrant splashes of color. Continue reading “Seeing Red: Capturing Malta in Cardinal & Crimson”

The Doors of Valletta, Malta

Valletta-Malta-Architecture-Doors-Collage

When I had my maiden visit to the Mediterranean nation of Malta in 2006, the island’s capital city, Valletta, was largely a diamond in the rough. Countless old limestone palazzi were forgotten, shyly sporting boarded-up windows. Nestled among these once-noble structures were shuttered storefronts, many of which still wore vintage signs that showed what businesses were housed inside decades before. I tried to imagine who passed through the doorway of a former ironmongers’ shop. I visualized sailors, in port for the day, buying their sweethearts something sparkly at the jeweler’s. I could almost hear the laughter and pleas of children, begging their parents to purchase them a sweet treat from the confectioner’s shop.

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Feeling Festive in Malta: Celebrating a Festa in the City of Bormla

When I first visited Malta nine years ago, my new Maltese friends told me about the islands’s beloved festas — days on which church parishes honor a patron saint in the most celebratory of fashions.

These feast days are replete with fireworks, food, parades, and elaborate decorations. Most festas are crammed into the summer months, and my maiden Maltese visit in November unfortunately didn’t coincide with any. My intense curiosity about festas was finally satisfied on December 8th of last year, when the city of Cospicua (known locally as Bormla) celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

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The Windows of Asti, Piemonte, Italy

A collage of 9 different windows (and architectural styles) in the city of Asti, in Italy's Piemonte region.

Perhaps best known for its annual Palio, a 700-year-old bare-back horse race replete with pageantry and tradition, Asti also has a lot to offer architecturally and gastronomically. The Northern Italian city once had more than 70 towers, which symbolized wealth and power. While there are less of them punctuating Asti’s skyline today, the city also features impressive churches and palazzi, beautiful brickwork, and varied architectural styles ranging from Gothic to Baroque to Renaissance.

Which of these finestre are you most drawn to?

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From Homeless to Highness: A Reunion with Cocoa the Kitten in Ticino, Switzerland

 

Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me Carl Sandburg

As I went to say goodbye to Cocoa, I found him basking in the afternoon sunlight and grooming his lustrous black fur. Occasionally, he would stop and gaze out the window at the Swiss paradise before him – a landscape sprinkled with palm, lemon, and olive trees framed by the brilliant blues of Lake Maggiore. When my eyes welled up with tiny tears, the pampered young feline reached for my hand, eager to play. I was pleased that he’d lightened the moment by wanting to get rough and tumble instead of sweet and cuddly. I chuckled as I wiped away the tears rolling down my cheek. “You lucky fellow,” I thought.

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