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Malta in low season is still a sunny escape, and a history-rich revelation

The Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel dominates the skyline of Valletta
PHOTOGRAPHS: WHITE STAR/MONICA GUMM/ROBERT HARDING, NEALE CLARK/ROBERT HARDING, RUSSELLKORD.COM/AGEFOTOSTOCK, JEFF GREENBERG 6 OF 6/ALAMY, ZUMA PRESS INC/ALAMY, GRACE DELLA/PROVIDED BY MIAMI CULINARY TOURS

Lay anchor in Malta

Malta has long prided itself as a port of call for troubled wayfarers: St Paul was shipwrecked here, while Crusader knights fed here after they were banished from the Holy Land. Following the same logic, the Maltese sunshine still provides salvation for anyone feeing the drizzle and fog of the British winter, especially at a time of year when tourist numbers dwindle to a trickle. The headline attraction is, of course, Valletta: the proud capital encircled by an elaborate system of ramparts, overlooking a harbour where the masts of anchored yachts mingle with the spires and domes on the far shore. For a less familiar view of Malta, follow country roads to the sleepy fshing town of Marsaxlokk– almost the southernmost piece of land before you hit Africa, taking its name from the sirocco winds that blow northward from the Sahara. Stroll the promenade to count colourful fshing boats bobbing in the harbour: all have pairs of eyes painted on the bow, part of an ancient custom thought to protect fshermen on the high seas. Keep your own eyes peeled for the last of the season’s swordfsh and tuna being unloaded from the nets in the morning: arrive on a Sunday and you’ll see fshermen selling their catch to passersby on the quays.

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