What I learnt from Notte Bianca

Notte Bianca came and went.  The public saw and conquered. Lessons were learnt and fun was had. Those of you expecting an ‘oh woe is us the organisation sucked’ kind of post will be disappointed. As far as I’m concerned it was a job well done, the kind that deserves a pat on the back or three.  This is what I learnt throughout the course of the night.

1. No matter how many museums are open, people will gravitate towards the hot dog stand. Or the Chinese buffet. Or the nutella muffins. To the nearest food outlet available, just in case you didn’t get me first time round.

Ritty Tacsum & her humanoids: exhibition at St James Cavalier

Don’t get me wrong, the cultural and music events were well-patronised, but nowhere near as well-patronised as the food stalls. If last Saturday is anything to go by, high-cholesterol and diabetes are guaranteed to be our lot in a couple of years’ time.

2. Even if there isn’t a problem we will somehow manage to create one. I had just managed to stroll down Republic Street with comparative ease when I stopped to get myself an ice-cream (Blush. Guilty as charged and so on and so forth). Topic du jour in the queue? The “fact” that the crowds were impossible to navigate and it took at least 30 minutes for people to get through the former City Gate. Oh…and that “they” should be ashamed of themselves for not organising a smoother event. Bollocks, says I. The organisation side of things was nifty and it took me less than five minutes to walk through the entrance to Valletta.


3. We are genetically programmed to never shut the freak up. No matter how interesting the topic under discussion, or how knowledgeable the person delivering the talk, or how inappropriate the circumstances for a casual chat, or how many people are shushing us. When I say “us”, of course, I mean “you”. Because I wasn’t the one having a nice chit-chat with my daughter while other people were trying to follow a World War II documentary.

Apart from these observations, the highlights were many

  • Accessing locations that are usually closed to the public – the Lascaris war rooms, the shelters at Casa Rocca Piccola, the shelters under Castille, the Chinese Embassy…Making like a tourist can be fun :)
  • Going 200 feet under ground level to the shelters where the British cooked up their WWII strategy.
  • Having a drink at Oliver Reed’s last pub in Archbishop Street.
  • Eating ftira with majjal and patata l-forn (bread topped with roast pork & potatoes) at Dimitri, my favourite lunchtime haunt during office hours.
  • Simply being inside the grand salon at the Museum of Archeology.
  • Seeing people who wouldn’t usually bother with art exhibitions taking it all in – and enjoying it.
  • Experiencing a capital city that was buzzing with people. You know, like we’re used to seeing in other countries…
  • Realising that yes, we can keep an orderly queue. Something that I’d never thought I’d see.
  • The impromptu busking at random points in the city.
  • The 2  Moak coffee points that looked oh-so-cute and served oh-so-yummy coffee.
  • The chill zone at Malta Design Week, the old University Building.

My 2 cents’ worth of suggestions? Stretch the whole shebang out over a whole week, make it our very own Fringe Festival. As we’ve seen, the demand is there. The facilities, the attractions and the potential events are there too. All we need to do it take the plunge and have some faith.

200ft underground - Lascaris War Rooms
One of the installations at Malta Design Week

The uber-cute coffee stalls

The Pub, where Oliver Reed had his last drink, in Archbishop Street.

One of the Palazzi that is not usually open to the public.



  1. Melisande Aquilina says:

    Well done Ramona! Lol next time let me know and I’ll hand you over the nutella ravjoli pic. I’m sure it would have gone down well with some people

  2. tita buds says:

    We used to have cultural nights like these here in Manila every weekend. Of course, stalls serving up food had longer lines than the museums, too. It’s true everywhere, I guess. I for one would love to try that bread with roast pork and potatoes. :)

  3. Alexandra says:

    The downside of performing at Notte Bianca is that you never manage to visit all the interesting places open to the public! You’re right, the whole thing should stretch over a week or at least a weekend!

    The biggest shame however, was the very rude police officers that started yelling that the live music permit was till 2am and not till 2.30am as assumed by the program. :S

    • Oh no! Permit issues always seem to plague live music events, I don’t get it. The funny thing is that no-one stopped the act in St George’s Square before 3AM! So it’s almost like a particular kind of music is targetted…

  4. John Zammit says:

    Mark Spiteri and his Band at MATHEW STREET (Strait Street) with the BEATLEMANIA EXHIBITION were splendid in NOTTE BIANCA.