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The Maltese Islands

Why Gozo?

A more appropriate question could be “why not Gozo?” The island is truly a haven of peace and tranquility where English is widely spoken. The local people (known as Gozitans) are bi-lingual, speaking both English and Maltese. Gozitans are known for their friendliness towards visitors, going out of their way to help a visitor. The real beauty of Gozo, apart from its stunning seascape and interior, lies in the island’s villages.  Here, it seems as if time really does stand still. The locals treasure their peace and the villages are tranquil, proving to be a wonderful respite from the trials and tribulations of everyday life for visitors, which may explain why many foreigners (including a large number of British people), have chosen to live here permanently.

Wherever you look, the sea is never more than a stones throw away and it is Gozo’s remarkable coastline that stimulates the imagination so strongly: tiny creeks, beaches of red sand, turquoise bays, stretches of limestone criss-crossed with tiny saltpans and majestic high cliffs falling in a sheer drop into the crystal clear waters.

The Maltese archipelago lies at the centre of the Mediterranean, Malta being 93km south of Sicily and 288km north of Africa. The archipelago consists of seven islands, but only three of these are inhabited: Malta, Gozo & Comino. Gozo is the second largest island in the Maltese Archipelago, Malta being the largest and busiest. Gozo has a population of around 31,000 people.

Gozo is thought to be the legendary “Calypso’s isle” in Homer’s Odyssey and after visiting for the first time it is evident why. Calypso’s cave overlooks the beautiful Ramla beach which is Gozo’s largest sandy beach.

Climate


Gozo is blessed with one of the most agreeable climates in the Mediterranean. The weather is warm even in winter. Between April and September there is virtually non-stop sunshine. The hottest period is mid-July to the end of September, but the nights are tempered by cool breezes from the surrounding sea. Mild winters and warm summers, with an average temperature of 32°C means excellent weather throughout the year.

For more information on the Island's weather and climate including detailed live weather reports visit www.maltaweather.com

Your homestay family village - Xaghra

Apart from being a picturesque village, Xaghra is also rich in historical heritage and therefore has plenty to offer to its visitors. Here one can find the Neolithic temples of Ggantija, which are acknowledged to be the oldest free-standing structures in the world dating from around 3600 to 3200 BC and as such, are one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. The village is approximately 3km north east of the capital town of Victoria, and is encircled by the beautiful bays of Ramla, Ghajn Barrani and Marsalforn.

On the edge of the town, overlooking a splendid view of Ramla Bay, one can find Calypso’s Cave, the home of the nymph Calypso mentioned in Homer's Odyssey. Other caves are renowned for the fantastic shapes of their stalagmites and stalactites, formed over the ages by the slow filtration of rainwater through the limestone. Xerri's Grotto and Ninu's Cave are fine examples of this.

The village boasts an attractive windmill known as Ta' Kola Windmill, after its last tenant. The present windmill structure was built on 5th September 1786. It is the only windmill in Gozo that has its own original wooden cogwheel machinery in good working order, and today, is a museum.

The village feast is celebrated every 8th September, locally known as "Il-Festa tal-Vittorja" commemorating the victory of the Maltese under the Knights of St. John over the Turks in the Siege of 1565.

Sightseeing

The capital of Gozo is Victoria (or Rabat to the Gozitans) and its maze of alleyways and narrow streets are overlooked by its medieval hilltop citadel, which can be seen from almost every corner of the island. For centuries the Citadel served as a sanctuary from attack by pirates, saracens and Ottoman invaders. At several times in Gozo's history its population was taken into slavery by these raiders. When the threat subsided after the Great Siege, a prosperous town developed below the Citadel. Today one can stroll around the impressive walls of the Citadel which command a superb view of almost every part of the Island.

Victoria manages to combine the hustle and bustle of its daily market and shops with a relaxed atmosphere. It is a great place to watch the islanders go about their day, especially when the main market square, “It- Tokk” comes to life.

Browse around Victoria's market and narrow winding streets and you'll find everything from delicious fresh produce, cheeses and wines to antiques, crafts, fishing nets and knitwear. The town also has a thriving cultural life, with some surprising attractions ranging from opera to horse races which take place in the main street on feast days.

Public holidays

  • 1st January New Year's Day
  • 10 February St. Paul's Shipwreck
  • 19th March St. Joseph
  • 31st March Freedom Day
  • March / April (date changes) Good Friday and Easter Sunday
  • 1st May Labour Day
  • 7th June Sette Giugno
  • 29th June St Peter and St Paul (L-Imnarja)
  • 15th August The Assumption (Santa Marija)
  • 8th September Our Lady of Victories
  • 21st September Independence Day
  • 8th December Immaculate Conception
  • 13th December Republic Day
  • 25th December Christmas Day


Visit www.islandofgozo.org for a more detailed view of what's going on in Gozo and everything else the Island has to offer. Also below are some useful links that will help you to get here.