Ancient ruins and contemporary charm? Go to Gozo!


Gozitans (so they are called) are well educated in accepting their fate.

& # 39; The rest of Malta thinks we still live in caves, & # 39; a grandmother in Victoria's capital (named after our former queen, who, unlike her great-grandmother, never really made it here) tells me.

Indeed, they mainly live in two- or three-storey houses (nothing higher is allowed) in villages that & # 39; t within & # 39; The years have competed to build larger and better churches, and those churches remain places of worship instead of reminders of a spiritual hinterland.

Perfect construction: Images is the car-less island of Comino, between Gozo and Malta

You may not know this about Gozo …

1. Gozo is the second largest of 21 islands that make up the Maltese archipelago.

2. The nickname is Isle of Calypso because of its association with Calypso, the nymph from Homer's Odyssey that held Odysseus for many years.

3. The island's population is 37,000 (out of Malta's 475,000 total) and the capital has two opera houses.

4. You can catch a 20-minute ferry from Mgarr's port of Gozo to the car-less island of Comino, between Gozo and Malta. The white sand beaches and the famous Blue Lagoon are great for a day trip.

5. The Ggantija temples are older than the pyramids of Egypt. They date from as far back as 5500 years ago and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site; entry costs £ 7.75 (

6. The island is nearly nine miles long and four and a half miles wide with many excellent hiking trails. See for route details.

Some 90 percent of Gozitans go to church on a Sunday and each congregation has its own patron saint.

Families live close to one another to help care for their young children, and in three days we do not see a single police officer or witness unusual except some gesture as I momentarily forget that they are driving on the same side of the road as us.

Oh, and a glass of good local wine costs £ 3.50. Well, that's attractive.

Throw in almost sunshine all year round, two or three decent beaches, many unpretentious restaurants, an arresting history, superb scuba diving, rock climbing and a pace of life that makes Malta fast on the mainland and it's no wonder that people like Valerie have come down from Liverpool here. & # 39; I came for a day and fell in love with the place, & # 39; says Valerie, who currently works in a gift shop at the Ta Cenc hotel near Sannat.

Remember, just before the day comes one of the big problems. Some local residents want another 10,000 people to live here permanently as a means to encourage the young to stay and set up businesses.

They also say that the central Maltese government is not doing nearly enough to support the Gozo economy.

Ta Cenc is listed as one of two five-star hotels on Gozo (the other is the Kempinski), but it's nothing of the sort.

Weather: the deep blue hole at the world famous Azure Window on the island of Gozo

Weather: the deep blue hole at the world famous Azure Window on the island of Gozo

Visitor of A-list: Angelina Jolie, who made her 2015 film By The Sea on the Island

Visitor of A-list: Angelina Jolie, who made her 2015 film By The Sea on the Island

Instead, it's a quiet place to stay in cottage-like rooms that are around two pools (one of which is just for adults), with a spa that doesn't win prizes – but ask for a strong massage and that's exactly what you're getting.

It's worth hiring a guide for half an hour, not least to learn how proud the Gozites are on their island.

Certainly, they have the right to be proud of the Citadel in Victoria, which is like a mini Mdina (the ancient capital of Malta), with massive fortifications (from the Bronze Age or even formerly) surround the beautiful cathedral built between 1697 and 1711.

And no one can sniff at the Ggantija temples (3600-3200 BC) that put Stonehenge in its place when it comes to longing.

They are not the finest archaeological discovery, but their existence is explained both briefly and romantically in & # 39; visitor center, not in & # 39; At least the legend that they were built by a giant who ate broad beans made them so strong that they could carry their baby in one arm and a megalith in the other.

Gozo is like Malta 30 years ago was the chorus we hear about half a dozen times.

The people are friendly, it is easy to meet, and what it lacks in sophistication is made by the authenticity of it. But my goodness, some of the apartment buildings at the two main coastal villages – Xlendi and Marsalforn – are hilarious.

Despite this, Xlendi has a certain charm and the place to eat is Ic-Cima, a family business with a huge roof terrace overlooking the bay.

Another excellent restaurant at & # 39; the other end of the island is Ta & # 39; Philip in Mgarr, where Philip Spiteri's impresario offers wonderful fresh nosh and wines from his own vineyard.

Our favorite spot on the island at some distance is the small bay of Mgarr Ix Xini, where Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt filmed By The Sea.

It's perfect for swimming and the job it leads to is so narrow that it hinders buses.

There is talk of building a tunnel between Gozo and Malta. It may make commercial sense, but it can also inevitably change Gozo.

For our tourists who do not shake off their garden, that would be tricky.


Double rooms at Hotel Ta'Cenc & Spa ( from £ 188 B&B. BA ( has flights back to Malta from London Gatwick from £ 88. For more information on Gozo, visit

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