Gozo covers an area of 67.1 sq km and is some 50 miles distant south of Sicily. The main town is Victoria in the centre, with 14 village spread across the island. The three main fishing bays are Mgarr, which serves also as the ferry landing port, Marsalforn and Xlendi. But a multitude of coves and inlets abound along its coast, the best known of which is Dwejra in the west with its azure window carved out in the surrounding high cliffs by the battering winter seas. Its spectacular sunsets and the deep blue colour of the sea beneath is the stuff of legends and a haven of divers.
Following on the footsteps of the temple builders of the Neolithic period, the Phoenicians came from the east and populated the Island making it a centre of their trading routes as they expanded westward. Though long gone, and replaced by others from the European mainland, the Phoenicians left behind a distinctive Semitic influence, not least on the Islands’ language, but also on the strong trading and business culture. This still exists today and is evidenced in the Islands’ hard-working people and their strong self reliance. Gozo’s population numbers around the 27000 mark making it much less dense than its sister Island Malta, with large swaths of land separating villages and towns. The inhabitants are known for their hospitality and cheerful laid-back attitude to life. Still, they are very industrious, and considering the barren and limited resources, quite affluent.
The Island has a mild climate with long hot summers. Autumn and winter months transform the island into a green undulating carpet with flowers of all types and colours scenting the countryside. Slowly spring changes everything into golden hues until the summer scorches the island sending everyone to the beaches and the cool sea.
Besides the intrinsic obvious attraction of the Island, a tourist infrastructure of hotels, restaurants and night spots have sprang up livening up the main beaches and towns during the day and nights way into the early morning hours.
For its small size Gozo’s all year round cultural life is amazing. Each town and village is reknowned for its festas, with their spectaular fireworks displays and religions processions. These take place during the summer months, with one being held every weekend and villages compete with each other for the best put up ‘show’. The Mediterranea Festival, comprising of a number of musical, theatrical and literary events, organised under the auspices of one of the band clubs of Victoria, is held around the months of November and December. In Victoria two opera houses put up two yearly productions each, one in spring and another in autumn. Meanwhile sport events are held in the Island’s two main football grounds and at the Victoria Sports complex. For the younger set, the main night spot, Il-Grotta, a naturally hewn cave on the rocky edge overlooking a deep valley, is an all night venue where young people from all over the world mix and have a generally good time in a safe environment. Bars also abound in the main towns and bays. These also remain open well into the night with their open air tables giving a bohemian ambiance to the place. The Island’s culinary trade has improved considerably over the years. From a beginning of a few eating places offering local basic dishes, which still survive today, a number of restaurants have sprung up. Now, one can also find international and themed fare, with some restaurants requiring bookings way in advance during the peak seasons due to their excellent service and food served.