Charles Saliba: “You have to appreciate Malta’s history to get the most out of your visit here”
Broadcaster Charles Saliba shares his memories of growing up in Malta, as well as his passion for driving around on rainy days.
What is your most vivid childhood memory in Malta?
We used to live very close to the Radio City Opera House in Hamrun. There were many tradesmen working in the traditional style. It was like a showcase of old trades – a baker with a wood oven, a carpenter, a coffee-grinder who always made the smell of coffee waft through the street, Ciscaldi the confectioner and more. Since there was a Muzew in our street, it was always full of children. No cars used to drive in our street, and on Sunday mornings, the whole road would become a football pitch – 25 against 25, so that everyone could play!
What is your favourite…
Local restaurant: Quite a few – my wife and I love eating out. We’ve recently discovered Victor’s in Marsaxlokk; Tartarun in Marsaxlokk is very good too. Swan Lake in Marsascala is great. In Valletta we love Palazzo Preca and Ta’ Nenu.
Local dish: Baked macaroni (imqarrun) and baked rice (ross il-forn)!
Beach or swimming spot: Riviera Martinique (Ghajn Tuffieha) for sandy beaches; for rocky beaches, I like the outer tip of Mistra Bay where there aren’t that many people. I also like Xlendi in Gozo. For a quick dip, I’ll drive up to White Rocks (Bahar ic-Caghaq) because it’s close to home.
Place for a walk: We love walking – our favourites are Mgarr, Fomm ir-Rih, Bingemma, Fawwara. We’re also completely in love with Valletta.
Activity to do in Malta: I like driving to outlying places, especially when it’s raining. My wife and I both love the rain. Once, there was a very big storm, the kind where everyone else decides to stay in, and we decided to go for a drive to Rabat. We were driving on a narrow country road, and the rain was so heavy, the road’s entire surface came apart. We had to go down to Gnejna or else we would have been stuck. When we arrived at Gnejna, the rain had swept all the sand off the beach and it turned into a rocky one!
Family tradition: We used to eat at my mother’s house for Christmas. Ever since her death, my brother took over, and now we dine at his place. We’re five siblings – two sisters and three brothers – and everyone brings a dish to share.
View: Qala, Gozo. You can see Malta, Comino; across the entire channel, really. Zebbug, also in Gozo, has beautiful views too – my grandfather was from there, and most of the townspeople there are surnamed Saliba. When the weather is clear, you can see out to Etna.
Describe your ideal day spent in Malta.
A drive in the countryside followed by an informal lunch.
What is the one tip you’d give to a visitor?
You have to appreciate Malta’s history to get the most out of your visit here.
What should a visitor to Malta definitely not miss?
St John’s Co-Cathedral and Mdina.
Ricotta or pizelli? Ricotta
Cisk or Kinnie? Kinnie
Summer or winter? Winter