Rosanne Dingli

Rosanne Dingli

Friday, October 1, 2010

What has Elmo got to do with Malta?

Malta, Valletta seen from Fort Manoel (on Mano...                               Image via Wikipedia
Fort St Elmo -
Elmo is a name that everybody recognises. Yet very few of us know anyone called Elmo. The image in your head right now is that of a small excitable puppet with a high-pitched voice. He is a celebrity of no mean proportion: more famous than most mega-stars.

But his name is one all Maltese people recognise - and it is known to be a name closely associated with Malta. Why? The pictures might give you a clue: it's Fort St Elmo, one of the many sites belonging to the island's historic patrimony. It is built of limestone, and is so old, it seems to rise from the bedrock as part of the headland's own substance.

The bastions were built by the Knights of Malta, and form part of the fortifications that give the capital, Valletta, its unique appearance. Whether you come upon it from the air, over the crystaline Mediterranean water, or on foot through the narrow Valletta streets, Fort St Elmo is a memorable sight: one that is not easily filed away together with a hundred snaps from various other tours, trips and voyages.

This is what the name Elmo conjures for anyone who has been there - or, like me, grown up with. It is a considerable legacy, this harking back to when the island was beseiged by the fleets of the Ottoman Empire, and the Knights of the Order of St John, together with valiant Maltese soldiers, fought off the enemy from these strange but formidable battlements.

The next time you hear the name Elmo mentioned, you might attach the image you see above, and others you might look up, together with the eternal story of wars fought in the Mediterranean Sea, to the fluffy red one already in your mind.

Is this amazing monument to the ingenuity of the Knights mentioned in my books? It is included as a location in my current work in progress, whose title is still under wraps, and might emerge in a couple of years as part of a new novel. For the time being, I am still excited about my forthcoming thriller, According to Luke, of which you have heard more than enough for now!
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  1. Very interesting, and here I thought I won't learn anything new today.

  2. WEll, Man of LB: I try to link things together in unusual ways. I hope this one works!

  3. The superintendant and his wife in the building I grew up were from Malta and when I was 13 my mom said I could get my ears pierced. The super's wife pierced my ears for me, by hand, in a chair in their apartment. She used special Maltese earrings to do it that had a sharp end, and she used ice as numbing agent. It was very painful and one side is fine but the other still isn't quite right and I can't wear some earrings that have thick stems. Still, I think it was worth it to avoid that punch gun!

    I think of Malta every time I put an earring into my right ear.

  4. That is such a fabulous story, Brenda. Do you realise it's so memorable that I'm not going to be able to put on my earrings without thinking of it?

  5. Hi Rosanne -

    You have a beautiful blog!I think if people were trying to find 2 blogs that were as different as possible, ours would win!!Yours is classy; mine is...not. Let's just say that my blog's bus is WAY shorter than yours. ;) Plus you have cool fish. Thanks for the visit and the LinkedIn comment.

    Have a great weekend! - Kirsten (Results Not Typical Girl)

  6. Rosanne,

    Thanks for sharing this post about Ft St Elmo. It's certainly a memorable site. I'd love to see it up close and in person.


  7. Kirsten: variety is the spice of life. I'll be back to see the difference again!
    Chris: thanks for returning. Fort St Elmo is very nice in the spring - try it then.