Friday, 17 August 2018

Discovering the rural areas of Malta

It is impossible to miss the caressing of the sun and the beautiful sight of the Mediterranean sea when
you are on the island of Malta. It is beyond gainsaying, as tourist and honeymooners alike can testify to this fact. The little archipelago of Malta animates both young and old with delectable cuisines and a views, hidden from the mainstream touristic traps, that only matches the description of paradise. The beautiful land and seascapes of the tiny sandy beaches, the high and indented cliffs, the crystalline water and the huge number of cultural and historical attractions, are most pleasant and the main selling points of this little country. But beyond these rare attractions is the evergreen vegetation and beautiful diversity of Malta's green beating heart.

Moving away from the central-east coast of Malta, as you leave Valletta, Vittoriosa or St. Julian's,  you will discover the pocket-sized terraces of cultivated farmlands. The aerial view of this part of the island makes it look more like a chessboard, a feat accomplished by the use of low stone walls to demarcate one farmland from the neighbouring one. The beautiful northern and southern terraces of Malta is a sizeable expanse of cultivated fields of strawberries, olives, pumpkins. tomatoes and vines. The farmers of Malta are generally into a mixed-type of cultivation and animal production. The fertile lands of Malta produce crops of great quality, a compensation for the small land area (316km²) available for cultivation. The quantity of crops produced is also limited because of the traditional means employed in the cultivation of crops due to the lack of large machinery and farming technology to local farmers.

As you move around the hinterland of Malta to meet its people and culture, you will easily recognise
the local farmers by their tanned faces which are furrowed with wrinkles and their calloused hands from local farming activities. At first glance, the Maltese look like they only mind their own business, but on a closer look you will find out how welcoming and accommodating they are. They are quiet, and they are proud of their work. They are happy people and are always ready to show their guests around their evergreen vegetation cultivated farmlands of fruit orchards and animal farms. Taking a trip around their wineries, cheese and olive oil farms will make you realise that behind the bustling 'mass-tourisim-zone', Malta is such a little and idyllic paradise.

For the rural communities of Malta, it takes hard work to maintain the beating heart of their little paradise. The Maltese go around their businesses day-in, day-out. Getting to know the humble and hardworking people of Malta will make you realise how connected to nature these persons are.  We see this in farmers like Grace, a local who works daily to keep her sheep to produce the Ġbejna, a typical sheep's milk cheese. Regardless of the humid and windy conditions of the winter or the stifling heat of summer, Maltese will still go by their businesses be it the baking of Ftira (Maltese bread) or tending to their farmlands throughout the year. 

One would expect an average Maltese farmer or artisan to look stressed and overworked, but on the contrary, these passionate people look radiant. The Maltese are so passionate about their work. This fact is attested by Mario who views his herd of sheep differently from other shepherds and introduces you to his sheep like they are family. Even Charlie, another member within the Merill Rural Network, sees his bees as his colleagues as he tends to them,  as carefully as possible. The Maltese appreciate nothing more than a sincere appreciation of their work and products.

The island of Malta is not merely an amazing place for honeymooners or tourists, but for everyone that is willing to experience the true identity of such a little island community. Once tourists leave the hectic life surrounding urban Malta, there is nothing compared to the closeness to nature that one experience in the rural. Come, hear and feel the sound and caressing of nature, far away from the crowded beaches and the hum of the urban life. Immerse yourself in this little, green, alternate and rejuvenating reality. Smell the olives on the trees and feel the freshness and goodness of the true Maltese product.


Chiara Dalla Fontana

Chiara was born in the province of Vicenza (Italy), but she spent these last four years in different Italian and Spanish cities like Lucca, Valencia, Seville, Rome and Milan. Passionate about travel, curious by nature, and with a great desire to explore the world, she's always with a suitcase at hand, ready to leave for any destination. For this reason, she decided to approach the world of travel through her profession. Chiara graduated in Tourism Sciences at the University of Pisa, then followed a Master's course in Travel and Photo Report. Now she is putting her studies into action by linking the two interests that matter most to her: writing and travelling. Currently, Chiara is in Malta working for the Merill Rural Network, and is excited to explore this new type of tourism approach, based on rural communities, sustainability, ecology and authenticity.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Our Food and Wine Tour from Miyuki's view

Miyuki Sugihara, a Japanese artist, joined us for a Food and Wine tour. The images speak for themselves!

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