A month of yoga and wellness mini-retreats in February

Image courtesy of Sanya Spa

Image courtesy of Sanya Spa

For the month of February, we've launched a restorative yoga and wellness mini-retreat in collaboration with boutique eco-spa Sanya in Naxxar.

Escape the winter blues and experience a weekend of relaxed Mediterranean vibes mixed in with pampering bliss as you indulge in a full day of massage treatments and yoga experiences along with some down time at Sanya's indoor pool and sauna facilities.  

Once refreshed and restored, take time out to explore the natural and historical beauties of Malta, along with the cultural highlights of the capital city Valletta, which has been crowned European Culture Capital for 2018. Return to your private hideaway at Locanda La Gelsomina and experience our personalised hospitality ethos. 

Our wellness package is available throughout the month of February, and may be booked direct through our Packages + Deals online page.

International Baroque Festival 2018 branches out to Birgu

Image courtesy of Jordan Mixson

Image courtesy of Jordan Mixson

Baroque music-lovers rejoice. The Valletta International Baroque Festival 2018 is just around the corner, and with this year's title of European Culture Capita, Valletta promises to hold a baroque festival like no other.

In its 6th edition, the Baroque Festival shall be venturing out of Valletta to two other walled cities: Mdina, the old Siculo-Norman capital where one can still see the columns of Roman temples in its foundations, and our very own neighbourhood of Birgu, which was the island's capital during the time of the Knights between 1530 and 1571.

The Festival shall kick off on 13 January with a performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons by Concerto Köln at the Teatru Manoel, and will run through until January 28. Highlights include a performance by Iranian harpsichord player Mahan Esfahani and period instruments ensemble Ghislieri Choir & Consort

To view the full programme, head over to the official Festival website here.

Valletta 2018 - The Festa has landed!

Image courtesy of Lee Dobson

Image courtesy of Lee Dobson

2018 has arrived and with it, a frenzy of anticipation ahead of this year's long-awaited European Culture Capital, which Valletta has been crowned.

Our gem of a capital city is in full-steam-ahead mode as final tiles are laid, last coats of paint are set to dry, and scaffoldings are finally dismantled to reveal newly cleaned Baroque architectural gems. Earlier this week, the covered marketplace Is-Suq Tal-Belt opened its doors after years of refurbishment, revealing its wonderfully restored 19th-century iron frame and an enticing array of food stalls selling everything from local delicacies to artisanal chocolates.

In 1985, Melina Mercouri, Greece’s minister of culture, and her French counterpart Jack Lang came up with the idea of designating an annual Capital of Culture to bring Europeans closer together by highlighting the richness and diversity of European cultures and raising awareness of their common history and values. This year, Valletta holds the title alongside Leeuwarden in the Netherlands.

In celebration of this unique event, cultural events shall be taking place over the year not just in Valletta, but across other towns on the islands of Malta and Gozo including Kalkara, Sliema and Ghajnsielem.

To view the full line-up of events, visit the official Valletta 2018 website and mark your calendars!

Fresh designs by Te fit-Tazza take Valletta by storm

Image courtesy of Te fit-Tazza

Image courtesy of Te fit-Tazza

We love shining a spotlight on authentic, quality experiences unfolding on our gorgeous Mediterranean isle, and if there is one exhibition you visit this month whilst in Valletta, Te fit-Tazza's display at The Splendid is it.

Launched by talented design duo Craig Macdonald and Andrew Farrugia, Te fit-Tazza is specialised in crafting high-quality prints that are inspired by defining elements of the true Maltese spirit. Through a subtle and modern approach, Craig and Andrew highlight the beauty of our islands whilst bringing a piece of Malta to the world.

Earlier this month, they launched an exhibition of their latest collection of prints at The Splendid, an abandoned hotel from the early 1900s whose soaring ceilings and original Maltese-tile floors provide a stunning backdrop to Te fit-Tazza's contemporary prints. The prints and the setting both offer a unique glimpse into Malta's creative soul, allowing you to venture far off the beaten track away from Valletta's traditional (and more obvious) sights and landmarks.

Running until January 6th 2018, make sure you mark this gem of an exhibition in your diaries!

The Splendid, 84 Strait Street, Valletta. 11:30am to 9:00pm daily, except Christmas Day and New Years Day.

Popup Le Pamplemousse Ep. 1 launches niche luxe experience

Popup le Pamplemousse with Sofia Capri and Decielis

Locanda La Gelsomina's hospitality ethos revolves around our love for connecting with authentic stories. Therefore, we couldn't have been more delighted when niche luxe brands Sofia Capri and Decièlis approached us with the idea of launching a brand new pop-up concept, with the aim of connecting the stories of their brands to lovers of niche luxe design.

Popup Le Pamplemousse is the brainchild of global-nomads Zoë Hili and Rossella Frigerio, who created this temporary retail concept with the intention of sharing their passion for personal retail experiences that bring carefully curated brands to hidden corners of Malta. Having already brought their brands to unique pop-up experiences across the world from Perth to Paris and Geneva, Zoë and Rossella were looking to bring the beauty of these personalised experiences to their island roots.

Popup Le Pamplemousse
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Locanda La Gelsomina's very own jewel-box shop in Birgu provided the ideal setting for Popup Le Pamplemousse's launch. Between 6 and 8 December, visitors were treated to la dolce vita spirit of Sofia Capri's custom-made sandals along with the vibrant, hand-drawn geometric prints of Decièlis's luxe scarves. Fragrant cups of organic Bellocq tea was also served as clients indulged in this one-of-a-kind shopping experience.

Wine and Design with JAD Jewelry Art Design

Locanda La Gelsomina boutique for Christmas
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Earlier this month, we welcomed the festive season with a cozy afternoon of sweet wine, artisanal Italian panettone and a fireside chat with JAD Jewelry designers Gioia Clavenzani & Ivano Ghinelli.

Set within Locanda La Gelsomina's jewel-box boutique, guests were treated to a fireside chat with niche jewelry designers Gioia and Ivano as they shared their brand story and eclectic jewelry-crafting experience that has taken them everywhere from Tuscany to Sydney and now Malta. Accompanying the creative conversation were generous portions of artisanal Italian panettone by historical brand Fiasconaro (that included fragrant pandoro covered in a sublime pistachio spread) and sweet wine by slow wine winery Pojer and Sandri of Trentino in Italy.

Set again a backdrop of 500-year old Maltese architecture adorned with Christmas touches, the afternoon was an intimate and delightful affair, immersing guests in a unique culinary and design experience.  

 

Looking back at our Yoga & Bliss Autumn wellness experience

Locanda La Gelsomina wellness retreat

Last month, as the temperatures cooled and the hectic rhythm of the summer months slowed down, we welcomed guests to experience a unique wellness experience hosted in collaboration with yoga practitioner Szilvia Gardian and eco-luxe spa Sanya between 27 and 30 October.

The 4-day experience offered a glimpse into the hidden gems of Malta's historical and natural sights, whilst nurtured and pampered each guest's body, mind and soul with daily sessions of yoga, sound and gong bath sessions. The programme included a day at the luxe eco-boutique spa Sanya, where weary limbs were pampered with a lush massage and facial. Participants were also treated to a magical seaside yoga and sound bath session at the picturesque Ghajn Tuffieha beach.

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Locanda La Gelsomina Wellness Experience

"Szilvia radiantly led the class and knew how to transform the experience into a fun and enjoyable one. The retreat exceeded my expectations."

To find out more about our unique and personalised wellness experiences that shall be taking place in 2018, keep an eye out for updates that will be posted in our Yoga + Wellness page.

 

Warming up to Autumn with Maria Shebets' aromatic chai

Image courtesy Maria Shebets

Image courtesy Maria Shebets

As the temperatures cool and the beach towels are folded away, there's nothing better than warming up with a cozy cup of freshly brewed chai tea in our quiet spaces.

Food lover and writer Maria Shebets has whipped up a fragrant chai recipe that is packed with aromatic spices such as ginger and cloves, making it the perfect accompaniment to home-baked biscuits by the fireplace.

For the full list of ingredients and recipe - including homemade almond milk and almond crackers - head to http://shebets.com/chai-almond-milk-and-crackers/

 

The glow of candles will bring to life BirguFest 2017

BirguFest 2017 at Locanda La Gelsomina

There are just 2 weeks to go before the historical hamlet of Birgu is transformed into a spectacular array of candelit displays all across its balconies and alleyways.

Set to take place between 13 and 15 October 2017, the annual edition of BirguFest never fails to capture the heart and imagination of visitors that travel from across the isle to bask in the glow of this magical weekend.

As the sun will set and lights turned off, thousands of candles will be lit throughout the hamlet, as the evening will be filled with historical re-enactments, food stalls, a short film festival and live local music. 

Without a doubt one of the year's main cultural and historical highlights, this is an event not to be missed. For further details, visit https://www.facebook.com/pg/birgufest

Notte Bianca 2017 will set Valletta ablaze

Notte Bianca Valletta boutique hotel.jpg

Each October, Notte Bianca lights up the cityscape of Valletta, with a spectacular nocturnal celebration of people, culture and arts. The streets and cultural venues in the Maltese capital play host to a motley assortment of entertainment.

State palaces and museums open their doors to delight patrons with visual art exhibitions and theatre performances, while the open-air streets and piazzas showcase some of the finest local and international musicians and dancers. Cafes and restaurants are open until late with further food stalls and tables occupying the streets.

All of Valletta, from City Gate to Fort St. Elmo, comes alive on Notte Bianca, guaranteeing a memorable night that truly holds something for everyone.

To view the full schedule of events that will be taking place on this magical evening on Saturday, 7 October, visit http://lejlimdawwal.org/

Valletta 2018 European Capital of Culture partners with Locanda La Gelsomina

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Each year, a city within the European Union is selected as European Capital Culture which aims to highlight the richness and diversity of cultures across Europe.

Next year in 2018, Valletta will play host to this title, and throughout the year, a multitude of cultural events shall be taking place across the city in celebration of this unique event. Locanda La Gelsomina is proud to have partnered with this initiative as hotel partner to the Valletta 2018 Foundation, and look forward to hosting guests at La Gelsomina to promote this inspiring initiative in Malta throughout 2018 and beyond.

VOGUE shines a spotlight on the allure of Malta

Image courtesy of Alamy

Image courtesy of Alamy

The internationally renowned fashion publication VOGUE shines a spotlight on the beauty of our little Mediterranean isle and its "alluring laid-back feel". Whether you’re plunging into Sliema’s Ballutta Bay for an afternoon dip in the middle of the city, exploring the old, narrow streets of Valletta and Mdina, or jumping off cliffs with the locals into the country's many natural pools, you’ll leave Malta wanting more.

To read the full article, head to http://www.vogue.com/article/malta-amalfi-coast-travel-guide

Explore the Mediterranean waters of Filfla

Fifla island in Malta

A mere 0.06 km2 large, the isle of Filfla - located 5km south of Malta - may be tiny, but it is packed with a wealth of history and unique natural beauty.

Its name is believed to derive from the Arabic word felfel (meaning peppercorn), and was possibly sacred to the neolithic inhabitants of Malta, who built the temples of Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra on the Maltese coast opposite the islet. The only known permanent structure on the island was a chapel built inside a cave in 1343, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1856 that also sank part of the island. A map of Malta dating back to 1798 shows a fort, a lighthouse and a monastery with a chapel on Filfla.

Until 1971 the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force used the island for target practice, and spent cartridges from these bombardments can still be found on Filfla today.

Access to Filfla is only possible for educational or scientific purposes, however this month, on the 4th and 26th, Heritage Malta will be organizing a round Filfla boat cruise, departing from Sliema Ferry at 14.00hrs.

Experienced Heritage Malta officials will be with you to point out special features found along the coast, such as fortifications and heritage sites. There will also be time for a swim at one of the sheltered coves.

For further details and to purchase tickets, visit http://shop.heritagemalta.org/index.asp?eventid=405. Tickets are also available at all Heritage Malta museums and sites.

Summer Solstice at Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Temple

Summer Solstice Hagar Qim

The Solstice occurs on the 21st June every year, and what better way to experience the Equinox than at the Mnajdra Temples and Hagar Qim. The infamous UNESCO heritage sites are neolithic temples used by the worshipers to communicate with the gods.

The south temple is aligned with the position of the sun as it rises over the horizon on the first day of each of the four seasons of the year. It was purposely built in such a position so that the sun shines in between the stone at the Equinox and the Solstice. This used to help the people of the time to know when the seasons change and they need to harvest their crop.

More information and ticketing can be found on Heritage Malta's website here

Remembering The Great Siege of 1565 with a guided tour hosted by FAA

The Great Siege of Birgu 1565

As the sun rose on the morning of the 19th May 1565, this tiny Mediterranean isle began preparations for the first of many battles that would signal one of the most important victories of its history - The Great Siege. Until 11 September of that year, the Knights staunchly defended Malta against the invasion of the Ottoman Turks, signalling the climax of an escalating contest between a Christian alliance and the Islamic Ottoman Empire.

To celebrate the anniversary of this very first battle, the cultural organization FAA is set to take you right back in time to where it all began with an exploration of Birgu with Vince Zammit. Join him as he takes you to the historic heart of the Knights of St. John in Malta, and re-live one of the greatest sieges in all of history.

For further details and tickets, please visit https://ticketengine.faa.org.mt/. 19 and 20 May. 6:30pm to 8:15pm. Meeting at Birgu's Couvre Porte by The War Museum.

 

Ringing in apricot season with Maria Shebets : Chocolate Ravioli with Apricot Filling

Image courtesy of Maria Shebets

Image courtesy of Maria Shebets

With apricot season upon us, these delicious little nuggets of sweetness are filling baskets across local markets island-wide. As huge fans of both seasonal local produce and dark chocolate, you can imagine our sheer delight when we came across Maria Shebets' recipe for Chocolate Ravioli with Apricot Filling

Combining the bitterness of chocolate with the sweetness of apricots, Maria's deep-fried ravioli are a celebration of contrasts that blend perfectly once combined. Sprinkled with a dash of icing sugar and accompanied by a fragrant cup of caffè latte, they are the perfect way to savour Spring afternoons soaking up the season's flavours.

The Great Spring Horticultural Show is set to bloom across San Anton Gardens

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As Spring blooms across this magical little isle, The Malta Horticulture Society is set to launch its latest edition of The Great Spring Horticultural Show that will take place in San Anton Gardens in Attard on May 6 and 7.

An annual festival of floral arrangements, plants, fruit, vegetables and crafts displayed in a historic garden setting, this year's edition shall also see The Russian Chapel especially adorned with flowers for the occasion. The event will also play host to an extensive programme of dancing exhibitions, folk music and presentations designed to embrace and celebrate the season.

For further details and for a full outline of the programme, visit the Society's website here.

Celebrating Easter the Maltese way

Easter marks one of the most important festivities in the Christian calendar, and in Malta, locals embrace age-old traditions and customs which are distinct and unique to these isles.

Holy Week officially begins with Palm Sunday, which commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. On the evening of Maundy Thursday, churches are stripped of their silver and damask in sign of mourning and thousands of people visit seven churches to pay their respects at the Altar of Repose. The following day - Good Friday - processions are held across differing villages and hamlets across Malta, including in Birgu, which commence at 5:30pm and see numerous life-size statues being carried by pall bearers. The mood is subdued and reflective, as Christians in Malta and across the world commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus.

Spirits are lifted on Easter Sunday, as joyful church bells ring and fireworks are heard throughout villages. The feast is known in Maltese as Kristu Rxoxt (the Risen Christ), and following exuberant processions in the streets with the statue of the Risen Christ, families gather to enjoy a rich Easter Sunday lunch, which typically includes lamb and is topped off by traditional figolli almond pastries.

Valletta Concours D'Elegance 2017

valletta concours hotel

2017 marks the launch of the first edition of the Valletta Concours D'Elegance, which will take place on Sunday, April 23. Set within the walls of the historic Baroque city of Valletta, the capital will host a selection of Malta's finest historic automobiles. Internationally renowned judges shall decide on the best car entrant in each category whilst celebrating a love of vintage and classic cars.

In occasion of this event's debut, we're offering our guests a bottle of prosecco and return water-taxi tickets to Valletta on the day. Valid only for bookings between 21/04 and 23/04 using promotional code "IHEARTCC".