Famous as the setting of the Joe Don Baker classic, “Final Justice,” this small island nation is popular for its falcons and knightly orders. In spite of being a rather diminutive country, it has played an important role in European politics and court intrigue, which means you know that the Maltese know how to party. Malta is great for those whole love calendars, folk festivals that consume the nation for months at a time, and Mediterranean charm.


Malta is really made up of three islands – the largest, creatively called “Malta,” and three smaller islands, Gozo, Comino, and Filfla. Like all coutries that have a definite sense of their own history, you can find some fantastic archaeological sites that shed some light on Malta’s pre-Christian past. The temple at Mnajdra is not only an interesting site, but its orientation shows that the ancient Maltese used it as a type of calendar – the temple’s axis is directly aligned with the sun’s path at the equinox – and in a Raiders of the Lost Arc-esque wonder, at the winter solstice, the sun’s rays shine through the entrance and are reduced to a small disc that shows the sun’s position. This temple is the first known calendar in stone.


Malta, in my opinion, really shines at festa time. The festa season lasts from May to September, and almost every community in Malta has one. They celebrate with folk traditions and a lot of nougat, which is a traditional festa-season favorite. You can buy the treat from any number of toothless vendors, and you’ll see that the old adage is true: Nougat really does taste better in Malta. Festas are huge events for the community, which decorates with all manner of flare, according to each village’s traditions. If you are going to find yourself in Malta, do yourself a favor and be there during festa season. If you can’t make it then, there’s still plenty to see and absorb.