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Spotlight on Gozo, Malta

18th February, 2013
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Keen to make the most of Malta’s affable lifestyle, but wanting to avoid the crowds, buyers are turning to the island of Gozo with its unspoilt countryside and quaint villages.

Malta is hardly a secret. Retired Brits have been lured to the Mediterranean archipelago for many years now, while, more recently, young, working professionals have been heading to the islands, keen to take advantage of working remotely in Malta’s favourable climate.

It’s not crowded by any means, but buyers looking for somewhere a bit more secluded might want to pay a visit to Gozo. Nicknamed The Island of Calypso, this moniker originates from the Greek mythological name, Ogygia, as referred to in Homer’s Odyssey.

In this epic poem, the fabled island was controlled by the nymph Calypso, who had detained the Greek hero Odysseus for seven long years as a prisoner of love.

This romantic myth suits Gozo, with its quaint villages, charming architecture and poetry-inspiring countryside. And then there’s the beautiful coastline, with its tiny creeks, sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. Teeming with marine life they are brilliant for diving.

Throughout the years Gozo has been influenced by the cultures and history of a series of dominators including the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Spanish, the Knights of St. John, the French and the British, who all left their mark on the island’s cultural and historical landscape.

The capital, Victoria, lies in the centre of the island. It boasts the dominant fortified old town and Citadel, two splendid churches, two opera houses and various commercial outlets.

The Citadel is one of the most striking pieces of architecture Malta has to offer and behind its austere bastions are a number of fine buildings, museums and the Cathedral.

Food and drink are a big part of daily life in Gozo. A hilly, fertile island surrounded by the Mediterranean, it is in an excellent location to pick up local produce. Restaurants abound in Rabat, Mgarr and in the fishing villages of Marsalforn and Xlendi. Prices are reasonable and generally your dinner will come with great views.

Off-the-beaten track, you will find small local producers offering tours and hands-on experiences, including fruit-picking, olive oil and wine tasting. Village bars open early in the morning for the early risers who attend the first mass of the day and close fairly late at night, so you’ll never be bored of an evening.

Properties in Gozo

So what about property? Well, if you like quirky, character residences then Gozo won’t disappoint. The ancient streets are lined with converted town houses and the devil really is in the detail here; balconies are embellished with balustrades, Georgian facades abound and sunny roof tops provide a bird’s eye view of the neighbourhood. The countryside, meanwhile, is revered for its magnificent farmhouses.

You get a lot for your money too; for €210,000 you can pick up a charming four bedroom farmhouse near the village of Gharb. For €450,000 you can expect a five bedroom converted town house complete with pool and Jacuzzi.

Source: The Good Property Guide by Rita Karia-Hopkins

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