Visiting (and photographing) in Malta
I'm thinking of going on holiday to Italy next month, and I was wondering if anyone had advice on including Malta in my trip. I'm looking at doing a Caravaggio pilgrimage and hitting the major churches in Rome and Naples, and possibly popping over to Malta for a couple days to see the Caravaggios there. What's the hotel situation like in Valletta (cost, quality, etc), and how photo friendly is it? If I bring a view camera, will my life be intolerable in terms of using it, or am I better off shooting some rollfilm camera of some kind?
You must try with Roger Hicks. He and Frances have been there in several ocassions and highly reccomend the country.
He is not active in this forum any more, but you could contact via private message.
Or go to rff and search for "Malta".
I've been to Malta two years ago.
Valetta is one big Museum and there are plenty of photo opportunities. Setting up a tripod (outside) was never a problem. In the morning and evening when the tourist busses have left it is rather quiet in Valetta.
I stayed in the Hotel Osborne in Valetta. It was OK.
I've been to Malta a couple of times and found it to be a *very* enjoyable country. Valletta is a very memorable city, especially if you turn off the main tourist strip and wander through the precipitous little side streets, but in many ways I think the Three Cities (Senglea/Cospicua/Vittoriosa) on the other side of the Grand Harbour are more visually striking.
Even if church interiors aren't your thing, St John's Co-Cathedral (where you'd be anyway for the Caravaggios in the oratory) is incredible; I'm not generally a big fan of the sensory overload in Baroque cathedrals, but this one is successful at doing complexity without exploding into a visual mishmash. I'm confident there are a lot of interesting photographs in there waiting to be taken. (Cameras are OK, flash is not.)
Note that they will not let you photograph the Caravaggios! But I expect you knew that.
But I think the island is more interesting outside of Valletta (and of St Julians, which is just awful, a crowded holiday strip full of drunken tourists). The people are quite approachable, once you get out of the tourist orbit of jaded shopkeepers and so on, and there's a living agrarian culture that's quite unusual in Europe. This is even more true on Gozo, which is a largely rural island covered with terraced agriculture, some of it still worked by hand. I'm horribly inept at approaching strangers socially, but someone more skilled could have a great time doing portraiture out in the "real" Malta.
The island is so small that you can stay pretty much anywhere and get around using the bus system (which itself is not to be missed; you could do an entire project of portraits of Maltese bus drivers and their vehicles). The only place I've stayed that wasn't a business hotel is the San Antonio Hotel & Spa in St Paul's Bay. It was eccentric but lacked any serious problems, and was extremely cheap in the off-season.
I've never been there with a really startling camera, but in my experience the place is entirely photo-friendly; they're used to tourists. Certainly setting up a tripod is a perfectly normal activity; a view camera might attract attention, but of a benevolent kind. But I would suggest taking a rollfilm camera as well, simply because there's so darn much to photograph. (I'm not sure that the Co-Cathedral would let a view camera in; you might end up in one of those strange arguments about whether you were a professional who needed special permission.)
There are regular fast ferries from Sicily, but I think they only run a couple of times a week; make sure of your schedule beforehand if that's how you're getting there.
Sorry for the braindump. I get like this about places I like.
San Diego, CA, USA
The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
-The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_