Here’s International Living’s ninth choice from their 2011 Retirement Index:
Don’t be embarrassed if you can’t pinpoint Malta on a map. It’s not on
everyone’s radar, and mostly unheard of by Americans. Malta is anchored almost
in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, 60 miles from the Italian island of
Sicily, which is linked to Malta by regular 90-minute ferry service. There is a
modern airport at Luqa (on Malta) with flights to numerous other European
countries. Rome is but one hour away by plane.
The Republic of Malta
isn’t a solitary island, but an archipelago of three islands and three islets.
Not surprisingly, the names of the islets mean nothing to most people, as they
are little more than rocks in the ocean. (In case you’re wondering, they’re
called Filfla, St. Paul’s Island, and Cominotto.) Filfla was used for target
practice by the British navy, so it is probably even smaller than it used to be.
While Comino is classified as one of the three islands in the Maltese
archipelago proper, it is also minuscule: just a few square miles in size and
home to just one summer-season hotel and five farming families. However, there
are 28,000 people living on the green and rural island of Gozo. This island is
one of the best-kept secrets in the Mediterranean, a place where time really
does seem to have stood still.
Until independence was granted in 1964, Malta had been a British colony for
150 years. Many trappings of the Empire remain: scarlet phone-boxes, blue-lamp
police stations, pillar-boxes bearing Queen Victoria’s insignia, cricket and
bowling clubs, cafes serving warm beer and roast beef dinners, troops of neatly
dressed boy scouts, driving on the left-hand side of the road…
there’s no language barrier here. Just about everybody on Malta speaks English
as well as Malti. Both are official languages. Similar to Arabic, but written in
the Latin script, Malti is a Semitic language. It also embraces bits of French