Tuesday, January 26, 2010


My Rough Guide called Floriana "a quiet little town that feels like a suburb of Valletta" and that was pretty much what it was. Monuments to dead airmen and independence, a Roman square with stone columns spaced about like stumps in a forest clearing, a cat-feeding station, a boarded up church with Sex room? scrawled on what used to be the window, a look-out point over a white and beige jumble of houses and church domes and factory chimneys as if someone had managed to squeeze a provincial Italian city together with a Lancashire milltown and the outskirts of Fez.

I passed back through the bus station and into a square straight out of a Disneyland Mediterranean village. Porticoed arcades, painted wooden balconies, a Burger King and a craft shop with Clearance Sale, Factory Prices Inside pasted on the window. There were children playing hide and seek behind the tomb in Hastings Gardens and a five-a-side pitch built into the battlements. I walked down Republic Street, the spine of the city. Past St John's Co-Cathedral the sights came thick and fast: the National Library, Manoel Theatre, the Grand Master's Palace, St George's Square, the dome of Our Lady of Mount Carmel jostling an Anglican spire for primacy of the sky.

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