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Published: July 13th 2015
This weekend was Valetta, the capital city of Malta, a tiny island in the Mediterranean just south of Sicily.
Despite it's small size, it's an island that's absolutely full of history, acting as a key point in controlling shipping in the Mediterranean for hundreds of years. It's old cities are often centred around giant fortresses built to defend against invasions by the Ottoman empire - this was Europe's front line defence against invasions from the Middle East. This makes for some great views from atop the walls looking out into the ocean. The walls are usually pretty badly damaged though, since Italy bombed the living daylights out of the place in WWII.
Here's the WWII background story: Germany had a campaign going in North Africa that constantly needed supplies - an army runs on its stomach. They were mainly getting these supplies from Italy. Right in-between the German campaign and the Italian supply routes - Malta, controlled by the British. Any Axis shipping had to make it past British torpedo planes and submarines. The Axis, not liking this setup, decided to bomb or starve Malta into submission. 3000 bombing raids in 2 years, and months between
supply convoys making it through the blockades. It's a really great story to hear how it all worked out from the tour guides at the Lascari War Rooms - the Allied command center on Malta.
Going back to the modern times... The island is now independent, with an interesting mix of British, Italian, and Muslim cultures. The British background, Italian food, southern sun, and beautiful waters make it a popular tourist destination, especially among scuba divers. They love their festivals too. Friday night I wandered into a wine festival - 15 euros entry fee per person, with a free wine glass and two bottles
worth of wine. It was a rough flight out the next morning :-)
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