Shopping in Malta
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Neither Malta nor Gozo could be described as a shoppers’ paradise, with few designer shops, but the best buys are, as always, what’s produced locally. Top of most people’s list would be Maltese glass, where three distinct traditions survive. Mdina glass is predominantly green, deep blue Phoenician glass is from Manoel Island and Gozo glass is highly coloured. Gozo glass is a craft firmly routed in modern-day aesthetics, with vibrant colours and jazzy designs to excite the senses. On Gozo, the tiny Gozo Glass shop in Gharb is a veritable feast of the glassmakers art, with the multi-coloured wares glinting in the sunshine.
The crafts village at Ta'Qali on Malta is home to expert artisans, producing not only glass but silver jewelry, pottery, lace and carved stone. The lace and textiles are a good buy, so long as you ensure lace is hand made and not factory produced imitations. You can tell by the price; handmade always commands a respectable premium. At the craft villages on both Malta and Gozo you can watch weavers at work and then buy their elegant handiwork. Chunky knitted sweaters are also a speciality, if you can bear to try them on in summer heat. But they are definitely a great value in cold weather in upper European countries, especially the UK.
If you are considering to buy a property, arranging house appliances and doing your shopping a few months before is recommended since most appliances are needed to be imported by local companies.
The famous Maltese filigree silverwork is as delicate as the genuine lace, and incredibly light to wear. Surprisingly, all jewelry including gold pieces is good value and well worth investigating. Art galleries selling local paintings are also mushrooming over the island, and its always worth a diversion for a quick browse.
The pottery is somewhat rough and ready, and either brown or blue it seems, but absolutely ideal for the rustic kitchen look back in suburbia. You can complete the look with a stylish replica dolphin brass door-knocker, a favourite take-home souvenir.
If you prefer the hustle and bustle of where the locals shop, then Valetta has two open air markets to keep you happy. On Sundays a bric-a-brac paradise sprawls along St James’ Ditch near the Triton Fountain, where you can search for unusual items.
Most Maltese towns do have markets during the week, but they are local markets for local people, selling mainly produce. One fresh product that can be realistically taken home (if well wrapped) is gbejna, a Gozitan cheese that will keep in the fridge once back home. Just ensure your home country allows importation of dairy produce before you buy!