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Grandma’s Gift of Malta

Peter Vella finds closure surrounded by family in the place of his roots.

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Vella family in Dalhet Qorrot and Mdina.

(Photo: PETER VELLA)

Malta, an island paradise in the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean, is becoming a tourist hot spot. But for Peter Vella and his family, Malta is more like home.

“Well, my parents were born there,” Vella of Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., said. “It’s kind of home for us. I’ve got a lot of cousins and family who live there.”

Vella had visited Malta a handful of times throughout his life, and he’d planned to take the most recent trip with his mother.

“I was supposed to take my mom there for three weeks. She wanted to go, but she was getting older, of course. She passed away about a week before we were supposed to go. And I didn’t have closure. So, I said, ‘ you know what, I’m gonna go anyway.’ and I’m going to take my kids and their significant others on the trip, kind of as Grandma’s gift to them. And for me, it was closure,” Vella said. “That’s why I did it.”

It was a pretty big family trip. Between Vella’s family of six, his sister’s family of four and his niece and her boyfriend, they were a party of 12.

“We stayed in the same hotel and all that,” Vella said. “It was spectacular for us to be able to have our own independent time with our significant others and then meet together and spend a lot of time in a nice family gathering.”

A lot of those gatherings were based on the water. Vella and his family decided to rent a sailboat for the entire day so that they could really experience the beauty of the islands and the Mediterranean Sea. When I asked Vella what activity he enjoyed most, he simply responded “Any time in the water.”

The trip was a little complex, since Vella and his wife started it off with a week in Barcelona, Spain, while his daughter and her boyfriend stopped off in Rome.

When asked about how he planned it, Vella said, “I will say that [travel agent] Stacey Crowley was absolutely fabulous. This is a complicated situation! We worked together as a team, she and I. She really caught on quickly to what our needs were.

“I almost hate to say this, because the island is getting so popular,” Vella said. “But it’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth.”

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