Walks, wind and hills

As well as being extremely narrow, some of the streets in Victoria, Gozo are incredibly steep.

A steep road

Nevertheless we persisted, we walked all the way up to The Citadel from where we could look down on quite a lot of the island.

There are signs of activity on the hillock dating back to 2,500 BC, the start of the Bronze Age. There are marble artefacts from the Roman era too, so a lot of history here.

I’ll let the local experts tell us more:

The Cittadella, also known as the Castello, is the main historic fortress of Gozo, built at a strategic vantage point just in the centre of the island.

Archaeological evidence shows that the site has possibly been inhabited since Late Neolithic times and certainly fortified during the Bronze Age Period. In Roman times, Gozo was elevated to a privileged municipality, and the fortified city was transformed into a complex acropolis serving as the centre of both the administrative and military activity as well as the religious life of the inhabitants of Gaulos.

During the Middle Ages, the acropolis was converted into a fortified castle which served as a refuge for the inhabitants during corsairs’ attacks. By the 16th Century, most of the castle’s defensive walls became obsolete, and a major reconstruction of the southern side was undertaken between 1599 and 1622. The delineation of the northern medieval walls was largely retained and integrated into the revamped military architecture, transforming the old modest Castello into an imposing gunpowder fortress.

Today the Cittadella houses various notable buildings and historic places, including the Cathedral of the Assumption, which was built between 1697 and 1711 on the site of the former medieval church.

There were a few other visitors but a lot of the people we saw arriving by foot or by car were lawyers attending the court. We thought about watching whatever trial was taking place, but in the end, staying outside in the sunshine seemed a higher priority. Although the wind was still quite strong, and cold in places.

Underneath the Arches
Green fields

One thing we noticed was how much greener Gozo is than Malta. It might dry out in the extreme heat of Summer of course, but right now, we can see the benefits of the limited Winter precipitation.

Bell tower
Another view of St George’s
Emmanuel Previ at work

It was interesting to see a really skilled artist at work. Emmanuel’s paintings have an almost photographic quality to them, and he was working from a photo on his phone here. How lucky to be here on the one day of his free exhibition.

From a distance, I thought this was an electric car being charged. A bit anti-social having the charging cable across the narrow pavement, definitely a trip hazard. But no. It’s a petrol pump, installed outside somebody’s house.

Domestic petrol pump

We wandered around fairly aimlessly for a while, but then Liesel remembered the remains of some aqueducts, so we walked along the road in that direction. Old Roman aqueducts, I gussed. Nope: built by the Brits in the early 19th century.

Aqueducts

The supply of water in Malta is of course limited. According to one of our hosts:

Malta only receives around 550 mm of rainfall a year, the greater part of which falls over a period of a few months from October to February, with the rest of the year being dry to very dry.

Malta has no rivers or lakes; 68% of Malta’s water comes from groundwater which is being exploited at a rate of almost 50% over and above sustainable extraction levels. The balance comes from seawater desalination, which consumes 7% of all the electricity used in the country, all of which comes from the burning of fossil fuels in power stations.

One thing we both noticed is there are very few solar panels here. I’m sure there will be more solar energy in the future, but for now, it seems to be a missed opportunity. Similarly, we’ve seen no wind turbines and no evidence of off-shore energy production using tides or waves.

We walked in the general direction of Wied il-Għasri, commenting on the cactuses growing everywhere, remarking on how hilly the place is, and what a shame there’s not a decent pavement on most of the roads. We turned round and saw the Citadel. Is that the same Citadel, I asked Liesel?

Boulevard

The walls are all dry stone, not a drop of cement. But very strong although not necessarily strong enough to withstand impact from a badly driven vehicle.

Stone wall

As we walked on by, I pointed out that we had now been to Infinity… and beyond.

As we walked on by, I reminded Liesel that we had been to Infinity, and beyond.

The names of houses are varied. Half of them are English, half Maltese and half Latin. But there was one that we were amused to see:

Infinity

As we walked on by, I remarked that we’d been to Infinity… and beyond.

Some other house names etc

We saw a sign advertising Gozo lizards for sale. Knock on the door or call this number. Well, I would have thought these dry-stone walls would have plenty of lizards living in the nooks and crannies, especially on the sunny side. Liesel on the other hand thought they were just rocks with lizards painted on them. It’s still a mystery.

Late in the afternoon, hundreds of birds chirp and chirrup in cacophonous unison, flitting about from branch to branch in the trees. We thought they looked like house sparrows, but I don’t know if they make that kind of racket. On the other hand, having seen pictures of Sardinian warblers, we now think they’re responsible for the noise pollution.

Very nearly a treeful
Basilica of the Patronage of Our Lady

This is the oldest Basilica on Gozo but there was no opportunity to look around inside.

Gozo is quite hilly, I may have mentioned that. So it was interesting to see that some of the crops are grown on terraces. I thought that was just an Asian method of farming.

Terraces

In the distance we spotted a lighthouse, but we felt it was too far to walk to on this occasion. We were conscious of the Sun setting at about 5 o’clock so it was with some relief that, at last, we reached the Gorge at Wied il-Għasri. People do go swimming here, but not today, as far as we could see.

The Gorge

We decided not to walk all the way down quite a steep path to the water’s edge. Just as well, because the trek to the nearest bus stop took us up the longest, steepest road in the whole world. Or so it seemed to these old legs. In fact, it was so long and steep, we saw the Sun set several times. It would disappear, we’d walk up the hill and watch it sink below the horizon again. And again.

Three sunsets in one day

Up and up we climbed, and when we reached the bus stop, we hugged it. The bus service on Malta is terrific but sometimes, you’re unlucky with the timing and have to wait for quite a while, in the cold, strong wind. But this did give me an opportunity to wander off a couple of times, and I did witness one more colourful sunset.

A fourth sunset

After nearly an hour, the bus arrived and we hugged the driver. It was a quick ride back to Victoria and a quick walk back to our b&b where we slowly thawed out and, after the longest walk of our entire trip, we enjoyed a good night’s sleep.

Author: mickandlieselsantics

We are a married couple, one American, one Brit, one male, one female, neither of us as fit as we would like to be, well over 100 years old altogether.

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