3215
Malta
Malta, Keystone of Mediterranean History
From ancient limestone temples to Europe’s first-ever planned city, from unique culinary traditions to world-class architecture and art, Malta is a wonder to explore.
Rating (4.67)
Program No. 3215RJ
Length
12 days
Starts at
3,199
Flights start at
1,125
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12 days
11 nights
23 meals
10 B 6 L 7 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Sliema
D
Victoria Hotel

Afternoon: Look for program staff holding the Road Scholar sign in the arrivals hall at the airport. (Participants enrolled on "program-only" basis should consult special instructions.) Transfer to the hotel will take about 20 minutes. Check in and settle into rooms. Exact time (6:00 PM or 6:30 PM depending on arrivals) will be advised for "Welcome" gathering and distribution of materials, general information about the hotel facilities and procedures, answers to any immediate questions. NOTE: Itineraries are subject to variation for local conditions not always known far in advance. All indicated features will be included, but may be re-ordered. The exact schedule for each program is supplied at the "Welcome" gathering on the day of arrival.

Dinner: Hotel Dining Room. Tables will be assigned for our group. Buffet menu consists of multiple choices for starter, main course and dessert. Procedures will be more fully explained on site. The food in Malta is mostly continental with a British character. There is also Italian influence resulting in a variety of pasta dishes, and fresh seafood prepared in Mediterranean fashion -- with lemon, for example, or with tomato, garlic, capers. Beef, chicken, veal and the local specialty - rabbit, are generally served in sauces, with potato and vegetables on the side. Be sure to try the crusty Maltese bread and a soft goat cheese from Gozo.

Evening: The balance of the evening is at your leisure.

DAY
3
Language, Marsaxlokk Fishing Village, Craft Market
Sliema
B,L
Victoria Hotel

Breakfast: Hotel Dining Room. Please fill our tables as you arrive since coffee and tea service may be delayed until a table is full. Breakfast buffet usually includes both cooked (eggs, sausage, bacon) and cold items such as yogurt, cereal, breads, cold-cuts, cheese.

Morning: In the hotel lecture room, Road Scholars will meet staff and introduce each other, go over any late changes or questions regarding the program. Group Leader will provide an informative introduction to the Maltese Language - Although English is a national language, this lecture will include the historic origins of the exotic native tongue. With roots that may go back to ancient Aramaic, Maltese is the only Semitic language written from left to right in the Roman alphabet. Then transfer by motor coach to Valletta for "Malta Experience" audio/visual presentation that organizes the many layers of Malta's history in a polished format. Continue enjoying the local atmosphere with a visit to an ethnic market of fresh food, handicrafts and small souvenirs along a harbor of colorful and characteristic fishing boats.

Lunch: Continue to an area restaurant for typical national dish of rabbit stewed in wine and garlic. (Alternative dishes will be available.)

Afternoon: The afternoon is at leisure to rest and refresh.

Dinner: Dinner on your own. Many restaurants and cafes are within easy walking distance of the hotel. A list of suggestions will be provided.

Evening: At leisure for personal activities

DAY
4
Prehistoric Cultures of Malta/Blue Grotto/Caravaggio
Sliema
B,L,D
Victoria Hotel

Activity note: Moderate walking on gravelly surfaces and wooden walkway. Some standing under open skies. Motorcoach remains with the group for those opting to wait aboard.

Breakfast: Hotel Dining Room

Morning: Hotel Lecture Room: Lecture: Prehistoric Cultures of Malta - Even though this miniature island has made various other significant contributions to world heritage, there is no doubt that nothing rivals its megalithic temples. Built in the period 3600 - 2500 B.C. by a small community enjoying an extraordinary cultural efflorescence in almost complete isolation, these buildings constitute architectural feats of the highest order. They show an internal evolution in form (from the simple to the more complex,) size of stone blocks used (from small to gigantic,) and in the artistic furnishings with increasingly greater refinement and sophistication. Then we will board the coach to visit one of the most impressive of these Neolithic (New Stone Age) Temple monuments.

Lunch: Lunch at a casual area restaurant

Afternoon: Continue by motorcoach with a photo stop at Wied Zurrieq near the Blue Grotto to enjoy natural scenery and the geological layering of limestone that is so important to Malta's 6,000 year history of building. Return to hotel.

Dinner: Hotel Dining Room

Evening: Hotel Lecture Room: Lecture: The Painter Caravaggio in Malta - One of the most important and influential painters of the period, Michaelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio led a colorful life that included both masterpieces and captivity in Malta. His story is adventure and the work he left in Malta includes two priceless treasures painted during his time as a Knight of the Order of St. John.

DAY
5
Valletta, "a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen"
Sliema
B,L
Victoria Hotel

Activity note: Moderate walking on paved but hilly streets in an historic area. Participants who opt to skip museums will be provided with a place to sit until the group recollects. Many cafes and shops in the area.

Breakfast: Hotel Dining Room

Morning: Motorcoach transfer to the capital city of Valletta, built by European Knights after the Great Siege of 1565. This baroque jewel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with wonderful historic structures adapted for reuse for government administration, shops and businesses. Visits to Upper Barrakka Gardens and panoramic view of historic Grand Harbour and the "Three Cities" area beyond; then the Grand Master's Palace. Walking, some steps to upper floors if desired, or wait in courtyard garden.

Lunch: Lunch in an area restaurant

Afternoon: Continued Field Trip in the city includes breath-taking St. John's co-Cathedral, the Caravaggio paintings in the cathedral museum. Walking and some shallow steps for entry. Ramp may be available. Return to hotel.

Dinner: Dinner on your own to sample local restaurants

Evening: Evening at your leisure, perhaps to take in a performance on your own.

DAY
6
The Knights/Free time/Gozo Rummy
Sliema
B,D
Victoria Hotel

Breakfast: Hotel Dining Room

Morning: Hotel lecture room: Lecture: "The Hospitaller Order of St. John and the Siege of 1565" - The advent of the Order in Malta led to a radical transformation in the role of the island from an ill-defended barren island to the impregnable headquarters of the crusading order. Their initial establishment was in the port of Birgu in the "Three Cities" area, headquarters of the Siege of 1565, after which the city was named Vittoriosa (“the victorious.”) Return by coach to the city of Valletta and visit the National Museum of Archaeology collection of incomparable artifacts of the "Temple Period" as well as a new display of Phoenician material. Railed entrance ramp is available.

Lunch: Lunch on your own in Valletta at any of many cafe's and restaurants.

Afternoon: Time is provided to explore Valletta on your own. Scheduled pick-up will return participants to the hotel. Lecture: "Malta and the Mediterranean World in the Middle Ages" Medieval Malta will be analyzed within the framework of Medieval Europe. Particular emphasis will be given to the role of Malta from the Norman conquest of Southern Italy and Sicily to the development of the Aragonese Empire."

Dinner: Hotel Dining Room

Evening: Instruction in a lively themed card game will be provided, with several tables set up for play. NOTE: The rules for this game were created by participants in one of the first Road Scholar groups to Malta: "Seven cards for the seven years Calypso kept Ulysses captive in a cave on Gozo."

DAY
7
The Enchanting Sister Island of Gozo
Sliema
B,L
Victoria Hotel

Activity note: Ferries have an elevator to passenger lounge. Walking and standing under open skies. Gozo motorcoach remains with the group so participants may opt to stay on board.

Breakfast: Hotel Dining Room. Early breakfast probably will include only cold items -- not cooked.

Morning: Early departure by motorcoach and along the scenic northern coast of the island to the ferry pier for crossing to the smaller sister island of Gozo. Greener and more rural that Malta, Gozo has a charming character all its own. 20-minute crossing by stabilized car ferry with passenger lounge and deck seating will pass the tiny island of Comino. Gozo filed trip visits include Ggantija Temples, acknowledged to be the oldest freestanding buildings on earth.

Lunch: Lunch at an area restaurant in Gozo

Afternoon: Continued field trip passes the walled hilltop citadel where in olden days the local farmers used to retreat to sleep for protection from pirate slavers. The on to the Dwejra area of fossilized shell and natural formations. Return to Malta and hotel in the late afternoon.

Dinner: Dinner on your own

DAY
8
Three Cities - Cottonera/Grand Harbour
Sliema
B,L,D
Victoria Hotel

Activity note: Moderate walking in an historic area. Participants will be provided with a place to sit until the group recollects.

Breakfast: Hotel Dining Room

Morning: Hotel lecture room: Lecture: Cottonera - A Regional Experience - Discussion on the lifestyles and social values of ordinary urban and peasant folk at the time of the Knights in Malta, and an intimate portrait of the politics of a working man’s community. Transfer by motorcoach to the "Three Cities" or Cottonera area. Near historic Fort St. Angelo, visit to the Maritime Museum: A fascinating collection of boats, models and paraphernalia representing the maritime history of this area on Grand Harbour. The old grain storage buildings of the Knights are part of the property.

Lunch: Typical worker's lunch at a casual local sports club.

Afternoon: A friendly volunteer game of Bacci, with instruction on the Maltese style of play. From the harborside, view some of the creeks and inlets of the Grand Harbor that have played such a role in Malta's long history. Housing at various times Phoenician Galleons, Roman vessels, warships of the crusading Knights and much of the British Fleet, the harbor now sees Mediterranean cruise liners, film star Yachts, and frequently ships of the U.S. sixth fleet. Return by coach to the hotel.

Dinner: Hotel Dining Room

Evening: Hotel lecture room: Lecture: Malta Under the British - Malta under British rule was a different story than that of the brief French colonization which immediately preceded. This lecture puts the colonization of Malta into perspective with that of other colonies, from the 1800’s through to 1960’s.

DAY
9
Mosta & St. Anton Gardens, Economy
Sliema
B,L,D
Victoria Hotel

Activity note: Moderate walking with ample places to rest

Breakfast: Hotel Dining Room

Morning: The morning is free to pursue personal interests.

Lunch: Lunch at the hotel

Afternoon: Field trip includes a stop at Mosta church to view one of the largest unsupported domes in the world, penetrated by a bomb in World War II which miraculously did not explode. Also public gardens attached to the President's residence. Light walking. Some steps to enter church. Return to hotel and time to freshen up. Hotel lecture room: Lecture: The Maltese Economy: Its Strengths and Vulnerability - The interaction of geographical and economic conditions, production, spatial distribution and wealth consumption of Malta as a small state in the central Mediterranean, will be viewed particularly in relation to its strengths and vulnerability as an island.

Dinner: Transfer to an area restaurant to share a pasta dinner with invited guests from the Maltese community. This mix of contemporaries from various walks of life often sparks lively conversation. Evening return to hotel.

DAY
10
Environment, Mdina/Rabat/Under The British
Sliema
B,D
Victoria Hotel

Activity note: Moderate walking on paved fairly level streets in an historic area.

Breakfast: Hotel Dining Room

Morning: Hotel Lecture Room: Lecture: The Natural Maltese Environment - An introduction to the natural resources of Malta with historical evaluation providing the listener with an understanding of their diversity and beauty, as well as problematic (environmental) issues relating to Malta and Gozo. Motorcoach to the ancient capital of Mdina. Sometimes known as the "silent city" for its unique hushed quality of quiet dignity, Mdina is a living museum with families still occupying its ancestral mansions. Walking presentation in this medieval walled city will include the bastions, city gates and the cathedral. Moderate walking with places to rest.

Lunch: Lunch on your own to sample one of the charming restaurants in Mdina

Afternoon: Spend the afternoon exploring Mdina on your own, or join a guided walk outside the city gates into nearby Rabat to visit 4th century Christian catacombs, passing by the Grotto of St. Paul where the apostle is believed to have lived for three months after shipwreck on Malta. Meeting place and time will be set for continuing Field Trip. Learn about Malta's remarkable 7,000 year tradition of building with stone at the Limestone Heritage Museum. A private workshop lets you discover for yourself the nature of the soft globergerina limestone as you carve a small piece to take home. Optional walking, steps.

Dinner: Hotel Dining Room

Evening: On your own, perhaps to stroll the seaside promenade or take in an optional performance at the Manoel Theatre in Valletta

DAY
11
World War Two
Sliema
B,D
Victoria Hotel

Activity note: Moderate walking

Breakfast: Hotel Dining Room

Morning: Hotel Lecture Room: Lecture: Malta's Strategic Role in World War II - Britain's concept of Malta as a strategic fortress colony led to a situation where the axis forces were particularly concerned to conquer the island, especially as it served as a base for the conquest of North Africa. Transfer by coach to Fort Rinella with its 100-ton-gun overlooking the sea and guarding the entrance to Grand Harbour. Built in 1878 by the British, Fort Rinella was the most technologically advanced war machine of its day. Moderate walking.

Lunch: Lunch is on your own.

Afternoon: The afternoon is free for personal pursuits or to organize packing.

Dinner: Transfer to an atmospheric local restaurant for Gala Dinner and group celebration of our time together. Evening return to hotel.

DAY
12
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Breakfast: Hotel Dining Room

Morning: Departure transfers to airport. NOTE: Consult Travel Coordinator -- Overnight in Europe may be required on return to North America.