A Maltese Affair

Reflections On the Contrasting Beauty of Comino Island

Malta is a stone heart set in a shimmering sea; a perfect tension between rocky form and aqueous expanse. Colonizing powers from the Phoenicians to the British have exploited its strategic position and left their mark––in the rich and complex language, the eclectic cuisine and the whitewashed architecture. To stroll around its capital, Valletta, is to absorb a blast of the Baroque––from 400-year-old townhouses to century-old palaces. Fly, or take the ferry across to Gozo, and you arrive in Malta’s rural cousin, all golden stone and a carpet of wild flowers in the spring, as illuminated in Thomas Pynchon’s V and Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. Here, megalithic temples rise amid the ancient rubble, and precipices tumble into the sea. Between Malta and Gozo, the tiny island of Comino boasts the Blue Lagoon, a dazzling pool of pure cyan. It’s hard to imagine a more idyllic place to get wet, or to snorkel in crystal-clear waters, as illustrated in this series by photographer Palida Boonyarungsrit. Come the next day, the bodies beautiful gather in the garden-fringed Mellieħa Bay, or along the sandy stretches of Għajn Tuffieħa and Golden Bay. Ramla, over on Gozo, may be as near a perfect strip of coast as you could wish for, its red-hued sand gently arcing across the water. 

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Conversations (1)

  • MX
    We'd love to see more photos! 'less is more' doesn't really apply in Malta :) Posts like this makes us so proud of our tiny islands. We rent holiday houses in Gozo and all our visitors fall in love with the cousin island. It's a bit of a guarantee! Look up 'il-Pellikan Holiday House' if you're considering visiting. Off to the beach now, tra la
    • Posted By MX
    • August 18, 2013 at 7:02PM
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    WIZ: Strait Street

    The Acclaimed Filmmaker Uncovers Malta’s Bawdy Past in a New Video for Dark Horses

    Vintage footage of sailors and the pleasures of the Maltese harbor punctuate this premiere from British director WIZ, who follows local performer Ira Melkonyan as she wanders hypnotized through the shadows of a rundown palazzo in Valetta’s Old Town, towards the sounds of the Brighton-based art rockers Dark Horses. With a music videography including shorts for David Bowie, Dizzee Rascal and Marilyn Manson, WIZ himself sets the scene for his latest work in a prose poem written to accompany “Anna Minor”, a track from Black Music, the band’s debut album: "Strait Street, known to British servicemen as ‘the Gut’, was Malta’s notorious red light district up until the early 1970s. A choice destination for drunken sailors when the street sprung into life in the long hours of darkness— barmaids would lean on doorways touting for business, musicians, entertainers and prostitutes would spill from every bar." This summer, Dark Horses was invited to perform and record in Malta and the studio space where they found themselves was high up on the infamous row. A close friend of the band, WIZ mixed their menacing guitars with voiceover recollections from a Maltese transvestite who used to work the strip, meshed with the sordid sounds of the world’s oldest profession. “An orgasm is one of the most intense experiences,” he says, reflecting on Dark Horses frontwoman Lisa Elle’s vocal climax, captured on stage at the Valetta venue Floriana Ditch. “There must be some kind of residue here, the amount of sex that was going on over a hundred years. Perhaps Dark Horses’ music somehow activated the sensations from the past.”
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