24 Hours In: Gozo

An abandoned citadel, a Baroque cathedral - oh, and the oldest structure on the planet... There's more than enough to fill a day here

Now that's what I call a dome

09.00: Victoria, the capital of Gozo, is also known by its ancient Arab name, Rabat. Walk up to the abandoned citadel, the last line of defence on Gozo, and visit the Baroque Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Inside, the dome turns out to be an impressive trompe l'oeil by Antonio Manuele. It was an 18th-century stop-gap until parishioners could afford to build a real one, but Manuele's work proved so popular they never bothered. Return to the Bellusa Snack Bar (00 356 21556243) on Pjazza Indipendenza for a a cup of coffee al fresco.

Watch out for the dragon

11.00: Amble across to St George's Square for a look at the rival Basilica of St George with its splendid statue of the dragon-slayer that is carried in the annual carnival. Now there's time for one more church before lunch. You'll have seen the campanile of Ta' Pinu from the citadel. It's only a 10-minute drive to the west. Inside this remarkable church you'll find niches filled with the crutches and surgical supports abandoned by people who claimed to be cured after visiting the shrine.

Pasta for lunch in Xlendi

13.00: About time we saw the sea. Drive back to Rabat and then south down the Xlendi Valley. The row of Renaissance terraced houses on your left as you leave Rabat is where the celibate Knights of St John used to keep their mistresses. At the fishing village of Xlendi are a few unfortunate hotels and clubs but some good restaurants overlooking the sea. Da Manuel (00 356 2156 1022) offers north Italian and traditional Gozitan cuisine. Aubergines alla Parmigiana and beef carpaccio are recommended, as are the 12 different pastas. Penne Da Manuel (vegetables and fresh baby prawns in garlic) is the chef's favourite.

There's old, and there's ancient

14.30: You can't miss the Ggantija Temples (open daily 9am-5pm) Admission: adults ML 1.50 (£2.70), children 50 cents (80p). This complex is reputedly the oldest structure on the planet, built before the Pyramids out of stones weighing up to 50 tons. The temples, excavated in 1827, get their name from the local word for giant. Enjoy great views across the island or a snack at Oleander Café in nearby Xaghra.

This way to the best beach

16.30: Now for a spot of swimming. Ramla is the Maltese word for sand and Ramla Bay contains the one beach on this rocky island that is worthy of that name. Not only is the swimming good, but if you climb up to the cliffs you can peer into Calypso's Cave.

Of all the gin joints in Gozo...

19.00: For a great sundowner, seek out the most interesting pub on Gozo. Gleneagles is in Mgarr, just above the harbour inside a curious Strawberry Hill Gothic building that overlooks the Comino Channel. The atmosphere is reminiscent of 1940s Casablanca. After a drink or two with the proprietors, Tony and Sammy, go down the hill to eat. Shore Street has several harbourside restaurants, but the best lie on Manoel de Vilhena Street. Take your pick from Da Luigi (00 356 21558681) Il-Kcina Tal-Barraka (00 356 21556543) and Manoel's (00 356 21560721). Relax, the evenings are long and you'll have the comings and goings of the Gozo ferry for entertainment.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine