Exploring Valletta, Malta in the lead up to its Notte bianca
Back in October, I was on the Mediterranean island of Malta for work. I was staying outside of the capital city of Valletta, Malta, and I was eager to get back to that city I hadn’t visited in some years.
The only time I had free were the hours before my return flight to Rome – and I took advantage of that sunny Saturday to head over to Valletta to explore.
Sadly, I discovered that evening was the annual celebration of the Notte bianca – the name in Italian for its neighbor just across the Mediterranean. It means ‘White Night’ and it is a night where the city comes alive with music, dance performances, theatre, street food and lots of crowds milling around the capital’s charming streets.
Hipster in-the-know that I am, my direct flight Valletta-Rome coincided with the start of that evening’s festivities. : )
But that was okay. I still had the perfect day for wandering the city I’ve visited before, and now that I know about the festivities, I’ll definitely be back.
Valletta is an impressive capital. A fortified city constructed by the Knights of Malta to thwart attacks by Ottoman and Saracen invasions, construction on the ‘modern’ city was largely completed by the 1570s.
The small settlement there had earlier fallen to the Ottomans in the Great Siege of 1565, but control was gained once again by the Knights of Malta.
The Grand Masters requested – and received- help in constructing their great city, including from Pope Pius V, who sent his military architect, Francesco Laperelli, to help design the new city.
Laperelli became the chief designer and would move away from medieval city planning with winding streets, to a grid system of streets and grand palaces – the very look so well preserved for today’s visitors.
It’s a spectacular place to wander, and the stands were setting up for a night of events, music, dancing and food as I sadly took my leave and flew back to Rome just as the festivities were getting off the ground.
However, now I know when Notte bianca is held, and I’m only a short flight away, so I’ll be back for a future edition. Notte bianca or not, you’ll be sure to enjoy your time in beautiful Valletta.
Absolutely loved Malta when we were there last year! Can’t wait to go back 😁
Great place, isn’t it? Hope you’ll get back soon.