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Thinking about Malta, what’s the first (maybe only) image that comes to your mind? No doubt, you’re thinking about Summer, sunbathing on sandy beaches, sailing along the cliffy coast of the small archipelago, drinking a soft drink or a cocktail while watching the sun go down far away in the horizon and just before the start of another thrilling night on the island.
That would be no surprise, as this southernmost tip of Europe, more Africa than Europe geographically speaking, in the common imagery is the place of the ever lasting Summer. That’s all true, of course, no one could ever think to deny it. Take a tour at the small Malta pavilion at Expo 2015 in Milan, and you might as well find yourself forced to change your idea: Malta is a lot more than just a holiday paradise, it also is a place where innovators can thrive and new ideas are born and developed every day. “Derived from the past, preserved for the future”, as it is written on the pavilion gate.
Tiny as it is, Malta is home to many innovators and startuppers and it is ranked as one of the top spots in the European Union for people looking for their chance to change the world. Or at least a small part of a business. Their Expo pavilion is as tiny as the country, only a small room, but it is definitely filled with lots of interesting videos showing what the island can offer to attract investors and innovators.
This is not the one and only surprise that awaits for you. Stepping into the pavilion, you are welcomed by a strange structure, one that cannot leave you uninterested. You look better, and what you see is a beehive. Yes, a beehive. Not what you figured out in your mind as a symbol, an icon, for Malta, indeed. Just ask the local people, and your surprise will grow even further: “Malta is home to one species of bee of a particular kind”, the spokepersons will tell you. And that’s why the pavilion is built as a beehive, a way to highlight the importance of this little insect, whose value to the well being of the environment – and ours – goes far, far above its size.
“A way to show visitors Malta is not just a place for holiday making and sunbathing”, agrees my guide. Indeed, a few minutes in the pavilion and my admiration for the tiny archipelago south of Europe and north of Africa, a crossroad of civilizations and peoples, has jumped higher and higher. Malta, my next step!
As this is Expo, and the international fair is focused on food, there is room for Maltese cuisine: huge photographs of traditional food from the island, with explanation of their origins and how they are made. Samples of the good of local food you cannot miss if you are on the island!