When talking about winds in the Mediterranean Sea,
their names were given by a seaman sailing near Malta: the northeast wind (Grecale in
Italian) comes from Greece, the southwesterly (Libeccio in Italian) comes from Libya and
Sirocco comes from Syria. The Maltese archipelago is at the center of the ancient sea and
all commerce, migrations and invasions passed by its coasts which nowadays offer marvelous
scenery and good shelters to whoever chooses to sail around it. The rough nature of the
rock forming the archipelago produced steep walls and deep fjords where, over time,
hospitable marinas have been built.
Malta might be the mythical Ogige, where the nymph Calypso attracted and retained Ulysses for seven years. After all, the megalithic temples dating back to approximately 4500 years ago, must have witnessed the whims of civilizations along the coast of the archipelago, anticipating the Mediterranean and the rivaling Middle Eastern ones. Yet, the rests of once existing life are most interesting: elephants and rhinoceroses lived amid waterways and luxurious vegetation.
History tells that Malta was initially forayed by Phoenicians and then by Greeks and Romans. Cicero loved it so much that he wanted to go there to "rest". Nevertheless, Malta's history is strictly linked to the history of its Chevaliers. Blessed Pietro Gerardo founded the Order at the time of the first Crusade, when they helped the pilgrims en route to the Holy Land. When the infidels conquered it, the Chevaliers moved to Cyprus, then to Rhodes and later, after being driven away by Solyman, arrived in Malta where they stood as the last rampart of Christianity against Muslim invasions. They were organized with eight areas of origin and eight languages, as the eight beatitudes and the eight pointed tips of the cross of their Order. Their most famous victory has been the resistance to the siege of the Solyman's and of the Bey of Algiers' fleets.
|Only 9,000 men resisted to the 40,000 infidels who were later defeated by Don Garcia of Toledo, Viceroy of Sicily. Since then, the Order started to decline, because after the defeat of Naupaktos, the Muslim danger was momentarily defeated. After the Inquisition and a period of sumptuous feasts, Napoleon arrived. The Order capitulated in 1798 and left Malta. Two years later Nelson conquered the islands and annexed them to the British Commonwealth till 1964 when Malta became a Republic. The islands were of strategic importance to Britain during the two World Wars, so much so that Winston Churchill said|
he had an aircraft carrier solidly anchored in
the Mediterranean Sea. Nowadays, one of the most flourishing resources of the archipelago
is tourism, in particular, in the nautical sector.When arriving from Italy, one should
remember to clear through customs by hoisting the yellow flag (flag Q of the international
code) and wait on board. La Valletta is a very hospitable city and offers different
mooring areas. In the Lazzaretto area, near Manoel Island, there is the prestigious Yacht
Club and it is here that the famous Middle Sea Race starts. Msida Marina offers
approximately 1,000 berths for boats up to 65' long. When circumnavigating the island
counterclockwise, one finds Saint Julian Bay, which is well protected by northerly winds
and is crowded by many small boats. A stop should be done in St. Paul's Bay, which lays on
a section of the rugged coast where the water is very clear and calm and where anchoring
is possible in several small and isolated bays. Mellieha Bay, formed by the tail of the
fish to which Malta resembles, is the biggest bay on the northern coast and includes a
very crowded beach. From here one can reach Comino, a rock-like formation, between the two
islands, full of caves and natural arches and lined with two small beaches. The pearl of
this area that is highly appreciated by scuba divers and by all seamen of the area is
Cominotto. After passing near Gozo, on the north coast, there is Sans Blas, a
well-preserved area untouched by modern civilization. The beach of Ramla Bay is dotted by
Roman ruins, while Marsalform has become a low-budget tourist center, with big hotels and
restaurants. The most beautiful natural attractions are in the northern part of the
island: the mushroom-like rock and the Inland Sea. The latter is a big pool formed by a
volcanic crater and connected to the sea and dominated by the a naturally formed window
from which there is a fantastic panorama. On the south coast, there is Mgarr Marina -
towered by the fortress and by the church - the only safe shelter of the island. When
sailing along the south steep coast of Malta, one may admire its rugged formation, rocks
and caves, among which is the eye-catching "Blue Cave" with extraordinary
beautiful light reflections. There are many bays, but only few of them are really
protected, such as Golden Bay and Gnejna Bay. The sea is so deep that its dark blue color
gives the scenery a really pleasant effect. Along the eastern coast, there is the gulf of
Marsaxlokk, where the typical Maltese boats originated: the "luzzus" with bright
colors and decorations.
Malta, whose name seems to derive from the Phoenician "maleth" meaning shelter, is faithful to its name, as a sought-after destination both for leisure sailors as well as for scuba divers or simple tourists, who in the mild climate of its archipelago find shelter even in the coldest season.
Malta is a group of exotic islands, with a millennial history documented by charming ruins, so hospitable and so easy to reach that cannot absolutely be neglected.