The city of Valletta surely has to be one of Europe's most amiable capitals. Indeed we reported from the capital of Malta two years ago this month, and you can read our impressions of Valletta here. "A curious mixture of elegance and unkempt charm. Diminutive, but instantly appealing," we wrote in that January 2008 account.
This weekend Valletta hosts the big street festival that regularly marks the end of the Christmas season. Under the banner Citta Magica, there will be music and performances aplenty, and the streets of Valletta will be full of visitors from across the Maltese islands. This is essentially an event for the locals, which begs the question why it has an Italian name. In fact, Italian pops up often in public life in Malta. An all-night street festival in Valletta last October was promoted under the title Notte Bianca.
Resorting to Italian is a way of by-passing Malta's knotty language politics. The country has two official languages: Maltese and English. A touch of stylish Italian nicely avoids the question of whether Maltese or English should take precedence. Just as a café we know in Brussels skirts around the issue of whether Flemish or French should come first by proclaiming its credentials only in English.