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32

the mediterranean

out of the

Blue

The Mediterranean is an enduring British

favourite but there’s nothing tired or old

about its current offering, says

Jeannine Williamson

the caves of comino island, malta

I

feel as if I’m at home as I stroll

through the charming cobbled

streets of Valletta in the afternoon

sunshine. Around me are familiar red

postboxes, well-known high street shops

and cars driving on the left.

Although Malta has been independent for

more than 50 years, the British influence is

part of its enduring appeal. After browsing

through a market selling inexpensive handmade

lace, knitwear and honey, I head to

Upper Barrakka Gardens, the highest point

in the Maltese capital, with panoramic views

across Grand Harbour. Right on 16.00 local

history society members dressed in British

artillery uniforms fire a gun salute. It’s a

stirring sight and a throwback to the days

when cannons protected the island against

attacks and signalled the time of day.

Next morning I take a 25-minute ferry

ride to small, neighbouring Gozo, where life

ticks by at a leisurely pace. Sea salt has been

produced here for centuries and the salt

pans glisten in the sun at Marsalforn.

Afterwards I enjoy an al fresco lunch at

Ta’Mena Estate in the countryside.

Overlooking an orange grove, I tuck into

platters of local cheese, salads bursting with

flavour and oven-fresh rosemary-scented

bread with wine from the estate. It provides

a real taste of these beautiful islands, less

than three hours from London.

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