"The anthropologist as tourist" is the title of a wellknown article by Malcom Crick. A provokative title, indeed. Even if we have strong arguments to demostrate to what extent anthropology is not a kind of tourism, we have to admitt that sometimes anthropologists are tourists. For example, today.
The second day of our summer school offered us the chance to visit the capital city of Malta, La Valletta, and the walled city of Vittoriosa (actually the first city built on the island by the Saint John's Knights) with an exceptional tour guide, Christine Muscat. Muscat is a professional guide, but also a reputed historian. As she told us introducing the walking tour, she studied anthropology and conducted extensive researches in the archives of Malta in order to retrace a peculiar and forgotten aspect of the local history: the story of prostitution during the XVII-XVIII centuries. Her last book about this topic, "Public Women. Prostitute Entrepeneurs in Valletta, 1630-1798", has been recently published and draws an intriguing portraits of city "from below".
Following Christine's steps and listening her fascinating stories, we discovered some of the most beutiful buildings and streets of La Valletta: from St. John's Cathedral to the Grand Master's Palace, from the Barrakka Gardens to the many Auberges of the Knights. One of the most typical features of the maltese architecture are the gallerjas, a kind of wodden balconies painted with brilliant colours, whose origins are related to the moorish style.
In the afternoon, we crossed the Grand Harbour by ferry-boat and reached the historical town of Vittoriosa (also known as Birgu). Here we learned a lot about the legacy of the Knights of Malta and the role that their tiny island has been played for centuries as crossroad of the trades, fights and encoutners in the Mediterraneans. A story that today relates also to tourists and migrants.