While places like Mgarr ix-Xini have that immediate wow effect on visitors, I tend to think that other locations are equally, if not more so, authentically photogenic. I would place Marsaxlokk very high in this category.
Marsaxlokk is Malta’s primary fishing port and a no-nonsense fishing town at heart, characterised by a 500 metre waterfront where all the action seems to take place and where the town’s many facets are on show. Come here early in the morning on a weekday to get a taste of the authentic fishermen’s lives, the locals lovingly preparing their boats and mending their nets; the friendly banter of the old salts.
Marsaxlokk takes on a different mantle in the evenings, when the fishing related activity gives way to the dining scene, with a host of restaurants offering outdoor tables and – naturally - a wide selection of fish on their menus.
Marsaxlokk on Sundays is a different affair altogether – it’s the day its popular market sets up shop. The market takes up practically the entire waterfront with the fish stalls taking centre stage in the area in front of the town’s church while further out the offerings are more varied. Fresh fruit and other local produce, sweetmeats, clothing and household goods stalls; all do their best to jostle for attention and it’s difficult not to be tempted by some of the enticing aromas.
Ever present as a backdrop are the boats of course, the life and soul – and workhorses - of this village, and the one element that gives Marsaxlokk its unique ambience. Most of them are lovingly hand-painted and the Eye of Osiris – a throwback possibly originating from Phoenician times – is present on all of them, traditionally a talisman to ward off danger at sea. Marsaxlokk does not try too hard to be beautiful – it hardly needs to. It’s a rough diamond - and this is probably what makes it so endearing. It’s also what makes it one of the top authentically photogenic places in Malta, a place where every level of photographer can get his wow shot with relative ease.