What is it like to live in Gozo?

Let go of Gozo

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The main square of the Gozitan capital Victoria is very manageable, but offers everything you would expect from such a place: the obligatory church, beautiful house facades, a rustic restaurant and a few grocery stores that offer olive oils, wines and cheeses from the island, which is home to 31,000 people . Almost a third of Gozo's population lives in Victoria, and yet here you can find what you have to look for on the neighboring island of Malta: peace and quiet. This is only interrupted by a few older islanders who coax a few soft sounds from their guitars during their siesta. Even the obligatory group of beer-drinking tourists from England, which belongs to the Malta archipelago like the Maltese Cross, looks downright prudent on this sunny October afternoon.

More than a million tourists spend their holidays in Malta every year - but they usually only stay on Gozo for a day trip. The ones who really go on vacation to Gozo are the Maltese. You are looking for peace and relaxation here. The Gozitans can understand that all too well. For them, the largest island in the Maltese archipelago is far too chaotic and hectic. In the evening at the latest, the Gozitans have traveled enough of Malta and want to go back to their homeland. Even if the two islands are only six kilometers apart, they are worlds apart.

For indecisive tourists, on the other hand, they are only less than half an hour apart. With the ferry you can commute between Gozo and Malta around the clock at ridiculously low prices. Even at night, the longest driving interval is just one and a half hours. So why not turn the tables and instead of living in Malta and coming to Gozo on a daily basis, choose the opposite version, which can be at least as attractive?

From the citadel in Victoria you have a panoramic view of the barren - but greener compared to Malta - landscape and small villages, all of which are built from the sandstone typical of these degrees of longitude. The island appears timeless in the truest sense of the word: the looking eye often finds few points of orientation that could date the scenery: Are you really in 2011 or not in the Old Testament? Apart from the capital Victoria, the other settlements on Gozo all have a village character. The sandstone houses in the villages, all of which have fewer than 2,000 inhabitants, are either old or built in an old style - and all of them are decorated in a representative way. Perhaps the prejudice with which the Maltese make fun of the Gozitan women is correct: They are excessively clean and spend the whole day cleaning their own house.

Incidentally, in Gozo you can almost only see terraced houses in the villages, although there is basically an abundance of space. This construction method is not due to the English terraced house mentality - Malta was an English colony from 1800 to 1964 - but rather the bloody history of the archipelago. Malta and its neighboring islands were so often exposed to attacks and sieges that no farmer would want to live alone without protection.

Extend summer

The geographic location south of Sicily brought Malta and Gozo to numerous sieges. Today it benefits her, especially at this time of the year. Because Malta is even more southerly than Tunis - and you can tell from the temperatures. The island state is the perfect destination to extend the local summer into winter, because temperatures of around twenty degrees can be expected here until Christmas.

Summer temperatures are also needed to get to know the underwater beauty of the island. Gozo with its nine diving schools can confidently be described as a diving paradise. The most beautiful beach on the island is on the north coast. Ramla Bay is characterized by its reddish shimmering sandy beach and the fact that it is only sparsely visited outside of the summer season. On the western heights next to the beach there is also the Calypso Cave. According to legend, Odysseus was trapped here on his last station of his 20-year wandering and had to render love services to the nymph Calypso for seven years. If you include the picturesque landscape of Gozo's north coast, Odysseus could hardly have chosen a nicer prison. (Fabian Kretschmer / DER STANDARD / Print Edition / October 29, 2011)