Monday, October 8, 2012

Malta's Notte Bianca 2012

notte bianca 2012 valletta

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Strait Street lit up for Notte Bianca 2012, Valletta, Malta

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Auberge de Castille lit up for Notte Bianca 2012

notte bianca 2012 auberge de castille valletta malta

notte bianca 2012 auberge de castille valletta malta

notte bianca 2012 auberge de castille staircse valletta malta

notte bianca 2012 auberge de castille staircase valletta malta
Auberge de Castille - open to the public for Notte Bianca 2012

notte bianca 2012 auberge de castille valletta malta

Auberge de Castille, Valletta, Malta

malta prime minister desk office valletta notte bianca 2012
The Prime Minister of Malta's Desk, Auberge de Castille, Valletta, Malta

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The basement of the Auberge de Castille, open to the public for Notte Bianca 2012

auberge de castille war shelters valletta malta notte bianca 2012
British-era liquor shelves in the basement of the Auberge de Castille, Notte Bianca 2012

auberge de castille war shelters valletta malta notte bianca 2012
We had to wear these to walk through the Auberge de Castille's war shelters

auberge de castille war shelters valletta malta notte bianca 2012
Auberge de Castille's war shelters, Valletta, Malta

auberge de castille war shelters valletta malta notte bianca 2012
Auberge de Castille's war shelters

auberge de castille war shelters valletta malta notte bianca 2012

notte bianca 2012 auberge de castille valletta malta
Auberge de Castille, Notte Bianca 2012

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Merchant street lit up for Notte Bianca 2012

notte bianca 2012 st james cavalier valletta malta
St. James Cavalier Center for Creativity, Valletta, Malta

notte bianca 2012 st james cavalier valletta malta
St. James Cavalier Center for Creativity, Valletta, Malta

notte bianca 2012 st james cavalier valletta malta
St. James Cavalier Center for Creativity, Valletta, Malta

notte bianca 2012 valletta open air theatre malta
Renzo Piano's open air theatre in Valletta, Malta (Notte Bianca 2012)

notte bianca 2012 valletta open air theatre malta
Renzo Piano's open air theatre in Valletta, Malta (Notte Bianca 2012)

notte bianca 2012 DNA staircase valletta malta
Notte Bianca 2012's 'You Are The Staircase' DNA staircase installation by Norbert Francis Attard in Merchant Street, Valletta

notte bianca 2012 brain valletta malta
Notte Bianca 2012's 'Cortex' brain installation by Raphael Vella in front of the National Library, Valletta

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The National Library of Malta, Valletta

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Dancers wearing traditional faldettas at Notte Bianca 2012, Valletta, Malta

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The donught-shaped Malta bus installation by Emmanuel Bonnici at Notte Bianca 2012

Malta, although small, has an active cultural scene and Notte Bianca is one of its crowning jewels. Conceived as an all night arts and culture festival, similar to Nuit Blanche in Toronto and Paris, Notte Bianca brings art, music, dance, science, and culture into the streets of Malta's capital city during the last weekend in September.

Although we've been living in Malta for two years, we have never actually been present on the island for this event before. So this year we cleared our calendars and committed to attend. And are we ever glad we did.

During Notte Bianca we got to see the parts of Valletta that are normally off-limits during every other day of the year - the Prime Minister's office, the war shelters under the Auberge de Castille, the palazzos that house government offices like the Auberge d'Italie and Palazzo Parisio. We also went to the St. James Cavalier Center for Creativity for (shamefully) the first time ever - and were seriously impressed (so that's where they hide all the modern art on this island!)

We got to tour the National Library of Malta, snuck a peek at the new open air theatre (bravo Renzo Piano!) and the temporary art installations which were also part of Science in the City. Then we hung out in St. George's Square until the wee hours of the morning, sipping wine and watching revellers strip down and splash in the public fountains. Because what's a good festival without a good-natured water fight?

Valletta, in all its quirkiness, is one of my favourite cities in the world. And to see it so bustling with life after dark, really being treated and put to use as the beautiful capital city it is, was a true delight. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for every other night of the year.

Valletta is notoriously quiet, with a very small but burgeoning restaurant and nightlife scene. Most tourists prefer to head off to Paceville, Sliema or St. Julian's for an evening of entertainment. And I guess we could count ourselves among them. We briefly considered living in Valletta, but were scared off by the lack of amenities (no grocery store) and how very quiet and isolated it felt compared to our current neighbourhood.

But even since we first came to Malta in 2008, the city has really started to come into its own. And with recent infrastructure investments and new public building and restoration projects ongoing, I'm counting down the years until Valletta finally becomes everything a capital city should be: vibrant, accessible, innovative, and transformative. The very qualities that Notte Bianca elicits from its centuries-old streets.

- Jess

4 comments :

  1. Once again I didn't make it to Notte Bianca :( And now after seeing your pictures and being able to tour the castle, I'm kicking myself. Since my time here is now ticking away, I really need to try to see some of the things that I haven't over the past few years of living here. Who knows when I would get the chance again :/ -Angela

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    Replies
    1. At least you have a lifelong familial connection to the island, so hopefully you will have plenty of chances :)

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  2. Wow - so many beautiful photos in one post! Looks like such an amazing festival, so glad you guys were able to make it this year :) Much have been surreal being able to tour the war shelters!

    xxx
    Jenna

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    Replies
    1. It was so cool! I couldn't imagine living in them for months on end...

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