Like most peaceful islands Gozo is diminutive – 14km by 7km at best, 68 kilometres in all – and a population of around 30,000. The bathing and diving are superb. The walks are peaceful and the most fragrant time being spring when the island is at its most colourful. There are many good restaurants and the best way to eat well is to stay with fresh fish.
The community is primarily agricultural. The greens of the landscape and valleys are a welcome surprise after the summer has baked the Maltese islands into a dusty brick.
Centuries of self-sufficiency have bred a culture built around folklore, and the villagers have countless tales to tell – from the legend of Calypso ensnaring Odysseus for seven years in her cave above the orange sand of Ramla Bay, to the metamorphosis of an altarpiece of San Dimitri in Gharb. This capacity for faith is manifested in the islanders’ energetic devotion to their church. For weeks before the lively local festas they wind themselves up with a torque wrench of anticipation, then celebrate with more gusto and warmth than anywhere else.
Gozo has been inhabited by a self-sustaining agricultural community for about 5,500 years (as evidenced by the ancient temples of Ggantija which are much older than the Pyramids of Egypt. These included the seafaring Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Byzantines, Romans and finally the Arabs.
The Citadel in Victoria also known as Rabat has four museums, a grand Cathedral and panoramas of the whole island is well worth visiting, as is the Basilica of Saint George. The original citadel dates back to the Romans, with fortified walls dating back to the second century AD.
A car is not vital, but is recommended. The driving is marginally less nerve-wracking than on Malta and the signposting is better.
Each village has a grocer for essential items and well stocked trucks and vans go out early in the morning honking that their produce will be the freshest and best.