photo credit: Ships that pass in the day; Gozo to Malta Ferry via photopin (license)
Visitors to Gozo often remark that it is much greener, more rural, and more laidback than its big sister, Malta. And the beauty of Gozo can be seen as soon as you disembark from the ferry at Mġarr Harbour and head inland.
And who wouldn’t be charmed by Gozo’s fertile valleys, picturesque villages, Baroque churches, stunning coastline, and a rich heritage you can even taste in the island’s unique cuisine?
Time moves at a slower pace in Gozo, allowing visitors to relax, unwind, and enjoy their precious holiday time. Many of Baron Holiday Homes’ self-catering properties are located in or near to Gozo’s villages – offering the perfect way to appreciate the authentic character and flavour of village life on the island.
Here are a few aspects of village life you’ll experience if you book a holiday on Gozo:
An important element of Gozo’s unique charm is its people. Gozitans are famously warm and welcoming, and love children. Visitors to Gozo are always impressed with how friendly and hospitable the locals are. People are proud of their island, their unique cuisine and its rich heritage and natural beauty. They love to help tourists make the most of their holiday here.
Our guests tell us that this is one of the distinctive aspects of Gozo. Gozitans are always happy to help out – if you ask for directions you’re likely to be taken there personally!
You’ll see beautiful old doors that have weathered to perfection. And tiny local shops, bakeries, cafes and bars add drama and opportunities for to people watch. You’ll find flowers everywhere – bougainvillea provide dramatic splashes of colour, prickly pear cactus sprouts freely, and almost every house is festooned with flowerpots and window boxes.
If you’re lucky, you may get to watch a traditional game of bocci, a game dating back to the Roman period and related to the French game of petanque, English bowls, and Italian bocce. There’s a bocci club in most villages on Gozo.
Cat lovers will also be pleased to know that every village has a full complement of cats that like to lounge about in the sun and shade.
Photo credit: ©Joanne Mohr Photography.
Admire Gozo’s distinctive architecture
Wherever you go on Gozo, you’ll see stone buildings constructed from local honey-coloured limestone glowing in the sunshine. If you are interested in photography you’ll find yourself in Instagram heaven.
Village life in Gozo is rural and the architecture on the island reflects its rich history. You’ll see closely packed ancient streets, with narrow alleyways, built to provide security to residents over the centuries. Yet the buildings often have lots of lovely architectural details, including farmhouses with typical archways, beautifully proportioned village squares, buildings with Georgian facades, and ornate, carved balconies.
Decorated stone balcony, Gozo. Photo credit: Myriam Thyes, commons.wikimedia.org
Rising above most villages you’ll find a beautiful, often huge and unmissable church built lovingly by highly skilled local stonemasons. There are 46 Roman Catholic churches on Gozo, serving a population of only 35,000. Twenty of these can be found in Gozo’s capital, Victoria (Rabat), alone including the magnificent St George’s Basilica.
St George Martyr, Victoria, Gozo. Photo credit: www.telegraph.co.uk
Constructed in the 17th century on a site dating back to the 12th century, the baroque church of St George Martyr is also known as the Marble Basilica as it is completely faced in marble. And the interior of the church is perhaps even more stunning as it bristles with golden ornamentation, as well as beautiful paintings on its walls, ceiling and dome.
Elsewhere on the island, the village of Xewkija has the honour of being home to the largest church on Gozo – the Church of Saint John the Baptist, commonly known as the Rotunda. The Rotunda dominates the landscape and features a dome, which at 75 metres high and 27 metres wide, is the third-largest unsupported dome in Europe, behind St Peter’s in Rome and St Paul’s Cathedral.
Another astonishing church is Ta’ Pinu Basilica, found just between the villages of Gharb and Ghasri. Not only does it sit in open countryside on the edge of a cliff, but the interior of this beautiful church is truly opulent.
For more information about Gozo’s amazing churches, and their architecture, visit gozochurches.com.
Village life in Gozo is mostly peaceful and quiet with hard-working people carrying out their rural traditions. However, if you holiday on Gozo anytime from the end of May through to mid-September, you are fortunate as you will get to witness another side to village life – the festa!
Every year, each village organises a weekend of joyful celebrations to honour their particular patron saint. Combining religious faith and secular rivalry, these festas have grown into amazing spectacles. The local churches are beautifully decorated, village streets are festooned in fairy lights, flags and balloons, and there will be marching bands, religious parades, dancing, traditional food, horse and donkey racing, and spectacular firework displays.
Festa fireworks, Gozo. Photo credit: www.malta.com
If you’re lucky enough to visit Gozo at Christmas or at Easter then you will be able to witness spectacular nativity scenes, parades, and taste the special foods only made at these times. And in February, the village of Nadur hosts a ‘spontaneous’ carnival, which attracts visitors from all over the world. Not so bad for a tiny little Mediterranean island.
Ask us for help
Baron Holiday Homes is happy to organise car hire, tours of Gozo, and special activities for our guests. Just get in touch and we’ll tell you all you need to know about walks near to your rental property, special events in villages nearby, and other local information.
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