Our half-day city tour included a visit to Valletta, the capital city, built in 1565 by the Knights of St. John. Our tour started with a visit to the Upper Barakka Gardens where we enjoyed the views overlooking the stunning fortified Grand Harbour. Then we toured the Grand Masters Palace, the old seat of the order of St. John and today used as home to the parliament.
We were privileged to have an entree into the 16th cenury palace of a noble Maltese family: Casa Rocca Piccola, Valetta. This is the home of the 9th Marques and Marchioness de Piro: Frances (Barroness of Budach) and Marques de Piro. Marques personally guided our tour through the important rooms sharing family stories and highlighting portraits and furniture. While enjoying their company in the courtyard we also met KiKu the parrot. We were intrigued by the network of underground tunnels (tunnels cut out of the rock over the 400 year history.) These tunnels were used as bomb shelters during the Italian and Nazi air bombardment in 1941-42.
Our guided tour in the morning proved interesting as we learned more of the history and the conquests of the Knights of St. John. The afternoon Tom and I enjoyed exploring Valletta’s steep streets and discovering interesting styles of the Maltese people.
The Maltese Cross has new meaning to us: it is the insignia of the Knights of St. John. The Maltese Cross symbol is also on aviation approach charts and specifically identifies the FAF (final approach fix).