Born in Malta, actress Marama Corlett trained as a professional ballet dancer before finding success as an actress on stage, film and television. Now based in London, Marama has appeared in films including Maleficent and Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as playing the part of Rina in Sky Atlantic series, Sinbad. Despite her significant success overseas, Marama remains connected to her Maltese roots and makes the most of every trip home. Here, she shares her childhood memories of Malta and local recommendations for those visiting the island.
What are your first memories of Malta?
My first memories are of the many hours spent playing with my sisters and friends at the Upper Barrakka Gardens; of jumping in the papers thrown from the neighbours’ balconies at the St Paul’s Feast celebrations in Valletta; and of my dad driving us home exhausted from a whole day spent swimming in the sun, sand all over the car, falling asleep with an ice cream in my hand.
Whenever you return to Malta, what are the first things you do?
I’m usually on the last flight in, but – as if by magic – my mum has a meal prepared at any hour of the day for anyone visiting. It’s wonderful and it gets us all around the kitchen table together again, catching up. A walk through Valletta in the early morning is something I love and look forward to as soon as I’m back and settled.
Describe your perfect day in Malta?
I have been living away from Malta for quite a while now and when I visit time seems to stand still. Days seem to last forever and the simplest things like driving around the island soaking in the sea air, watching the sun set and drinking a cup of tea in a glass at some old Maltese cafe means more than it ever did before, the memories of growing up in Malta come flooding back.
What do you miss the most about Malta when you’re in London?
I miss swimming, the church bells ringing, the old folks sitting outside their front doors in the evening chatting. But most of all, I miss the friendliness of the Maltese people and the ability to start up conversations with people you’ve never met before, without any hesitation.
Valletta is the European Capital of Culture in 2018. What are your favourite cultural hotspots in Malta?
If you ever happen to be visiting during the spring and summer, then I highly recommend the Valletta Film Festival, the Kinemastik Film Festival and the Solar Cinema, which offers unique open-air screenings in beautiful and prestigious locations around the island. I also recommend a visit to St. John’s Cathedral in Valletta – don’t be fooled by its exterior, inside every inch is draped in paintings and gold. It’s also home to my favourite painting, Caravaggio’s The Beheading of St. John the Baptist. It’s breathtaking!
Where do you like to take out of town friends who are visiting Malta?
I like to take friends to visit our oldest sites, the Mnajdra and Ħaġar Qim Megalithic temples. A boat trip around the island, visiting the Blue Grotto is always lovely. As is a swim at Xlendi Bay in Gozo and a walk down by the boat houses inside the Valletta grand harbour.
Can you share a local secret with us?
Beware of Pastizzi, Twistees, Cisk, Kinnie and Maltese bread – they are all extremely Maltese and extremely addictive! You’ll leave the island a changed person.
This year has taught us the importance of self-care, so now is the perfect time to experience our newly re-imagined Athenaeum Spa.