Monday, July 9, 2007


We live in the village of Attard, but really we're practically in Balzan. In fact, I think our area could legitimately be called Baltard. Or even the two whole villages together.

One thing that clearly separates the two, though, is the festa. In the summer every village has a festa to a saint, some villages have multiple festas over the summer season. We somehow had gotten the idea that this past weekend was Attard's festa, but in fact it was Balzan's. Fireworks began on Thursday, during the day, of course. It seems loud noises are even more appealing here than pretty lights, because an awful lot of fireworks go off during the day in this country. We are uniquely situated, because Attard is smack in the center of the country, and most high buildings are located on the coast. This means we have amazing views from the roof of our house. In fact, we have left a couple of chairs up on the top floor (which is really just a storage area) so we can bring the chairs out to watch fireworks in the distance on the weekend.

This weekend we were at the Ambassador's Residence on Friday night (when festa celebrations really start to heat up), because it was the official celebration of our Independence Day. The night was actually cool enough that Terry was comfortable in a long sleeved shirt and I really considered going home for a wrap - we live a convenient walking distance from the Ambassador - except that I had nothing that would match my dress so I just endured.

Saturday we had planned to check out the festa. After our experience with my father at Qormi's festa, we had resolved onto to attend ones we could walk to, and this certainly qualified. Again, we mistakenly thought the festa was in Attard, so our plan was to eat dinner in Balzan, and then head over to Attard. We were lucky that there were restaurants open in Balzan, and decided to try Fra Giuseppe, which is just off the square where the church is located. Terry had a fantastic salad and acceptable ftira (a panini-like grilled sandwich), while I had a mediocre soup and salad with the same yummy dressing, but a quite awful piece of not-grilled chicken.
Stuffed, we did not partake in any of the festa food, which is largely similar to fair-food back in the USA - soft serve ice cream, cotton candy, etc. No fried dough or funnel cake, though, but there are several stands selling Maltese nougat.

The decorations at a festa are ornate, with banners, lights, and statuary. The church is completely lit up with multicolored lights. The main street was lined with statues of the major Old Testament figures. We had not thought to bring our camera, but will not make that mistake when we go to other local festas, because it really is amazing the detail, and the work, that goes into preparing for these things. The other amazing event is the music - every little village has a band club, some - like Balzan - have two. There was one band set up in the square, and one that looked like a marching band except that they didn't march anywhere, just stood there, that we listened to for a while on our way home. The quality of the music was impressive, again you have to remember that the only pool of talent they have to draw from is from the folks who live in the area, as a good musician living in, say, Hamrun will be in Hamrun's band club. According to wikipedia, Balzan's population is a whopping 3,400.

We debated sticking around for the fireworks, but decided it would be better to watch them from our roof. Wouldn't you know, Balzan is in the direction of the few tall trees in our neighborhood, so we could only see the high ones! We ended up watching the fireworks from some other village's festa off in the distance ... to be honest, the other village had more consistent delivery, and slightly more impressive fireworks anyway. Terry tried to take photos of the fireworks but they just didn't come out.

Sunday is usually the main event of a festa, when the statue of the saint being honored is carried around, but we did not get going early enough in the morning to see that part. More fireworks Sunday evening, and on Monday the street cleaners were already hard at work.


Anonymous said...

No funnel cakes!!!!!

Terry said...

The ftira was actually quite tasty, and the salad did rock. Two weeks to beer fest on the island