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A HOLY MAN Remembering Frenc ta’ L-Gharb Daily Grind

New life for the Ta’ Kola Windmill



It All!

A walk through Munxar and Xlendi

Character / Spirit / Foundations / Adventure / Flavours / Calendar / Through the Keyhole



let the sun shine! Editor Coryse Borg Editorial Consultant Jo Caruana Publisher Gozo Tourism Association Advertising Gozo Tourism Association Art Director John Falzon Design Keen Limited Contributors Pia Zammit Photography George Saguna Pre-Press & Printing Progress Press

There’s nothing like Gozo in the summertime. From the vibrant fireworks that light up the sky, to the days spent relaxing on the beach or by a farmhouse swimming pool, it really is the place to go for a true taste of what summer is meant to be. The Let’s Gozo team has really enjoyed putting this issue together, and these pages offer plenty of inspiration on the places you can enjoy over the next few weeks and months. These include Jo Caruana’s article on the stunning country walks in Munxar and Xlendi (page 26), where she discovers how the unique nuances of this spot make it the ideal destination for on-foot exploration. Meanwhile, Pia Zammit has also been getting to know the character of the island – one very special character, in fact, in the form of popular soprano Miriam Cauchi. The performer chats to Pia about her love for Gozo, as well as her career and home life, on page 6. And as for me, well, I’ve been learning about ‘hasira’ making, and discovering one man’s plight to keep an age-old tradition alive – and it’s definitely food for thought! Plus, a good old hasira will be able to help keep our homes cool as the weather gets warmer and warmer… Which reminds me, stay safe in the sun, wear UV protection and see you on the beach! Let's Gozo!


The countryside between Munxar and Xlendi. Photo by George Saguna

Let’s Gozo is published by the Gozo Tourism Association every two months on Sunday with an audited circulation of 39,500 copies distributed with the Sunday Times of Malta. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from the Publisher is prohibited. All rights reserved. Dates, information and prices quoted are believed to be correct at time of going to press but are subject to change and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omission. Neither the editor nor publisher accept responsibility for any material submitted, whether photographic or otherwise. While we endeavour to ensure that firms and organisations mentioned are reputable, the editor can give no guarantee that they will fulfil their obligations under all circumstances. This publication is supported by the Ministry for Gozo. 3


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contents April/May/June ‘13


THROUGH THE KEYHOLE A look at the latest events to take place on Gozo.



Gozo’s Singing Sensation Pia Zammit meets renowned opera singer Miriam Cauchi




A Holy Man’s Legacy Coryse Borg is given insight into the life of Frenc ta’ L-Gharb



The Daily Grind Jo Caruana learns about the past, present and future of the Ta’ Kola Windmill



Weaving the Past and the Present Coryse Borg witnesses the traditional creation of wicker baskets and hasira.




Stopping to Smell The Sea Air... And The Flowers


From history to wildlife, it’s all there on a walk though Munxar and Xlendi.



A Night to Remember It’s the run up to another exciting edition of Notte Gozitana.




Gozo's Mushroom "Midwife" Jo Caruana meets Casafunghi’s Frank Xerri.



Just Round the Corner Get your diaries out as we chart the must-attend events of Gozo’s upcoming calendar .

32 5




Pia Zammit clears her throat, warbles out a few flat notes and decides that opera singing is best left to the experts.

Performing the role of Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto at Astra Theatre Gozo in 2009

6 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013


I had long ago made the

observation that, per capita, the Maltese Islands have an extraordinarily high number of beautiful voices. As a nation we seem to have a never-ending supply of outstanding pop, rock, gospel and opera singers. However, one particular opera singer is so accomplished that she was even awarded a National Order of Merit. ‘She’ is Miriam Cauchi and she comes from Gharb. “I am very proud of my village,” Miriam tells me, “and very proud of being Gozitan.” Miriam always loved singing and acting, and her desire to be on stage dates back to when she was very young. “I think that I must have inherited my music-gene from my grandfather Alexander – he loved classical music. However there always was lots of music at home - my dad liked listening to Elvis, Dean Martin and The Beatles. I grew up surrounded by beautiful voices!” Miriam tells me with a smile. “As my upbringing centred round a small community, I had many opportunities to sing and act in local festivals, productions and choirs – so this allowed me to grow and nurture my talents. I don’t remember the exact time I started to show a real interest in singing – but I must’ve been around 7 or 8 as I was already singing in school productions.” Nevertheless, Miriam remembers pretending to be an opera singer while she was still a child. “I used to find trying to imitate opera singers very amusing,” she recalls with a chuckle. “And I remember being particularly impressed by the opera La Traviata.” In her late teens, Miriam started voice lessons. “I was encouraged to do so by Joseph Vella Bondin (the bass

Performing the role of Liu in Puccini's Turandot at the Astra Theatre Gozo in 2008

TOP: Performing the role of Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata at Astra Theatre Gozo in 2010 LEFT: Festival tal-Kanzunetta Maltija - Mediterranean Conference Centre, Malta 7


“I am very much at home performing French melodie and German lied, as well as Slavic and Latin American music.”

opera singer) who I met when we both performed in an operetta in Xewkija.” Before she started her training, Miriam had sung in – and even won – some local competitions. “I was singing in my natural, untrained voice, and even sung some pop songs. However, eventually, I became aware that my First participation in Festival Marjan Don Bosco Theatre Gozo at 9 years of age.

8 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013

voice was more suited to classical singing – and I was in fact happier in this genre. I still appreciate popular music and may even sing pop on occasion, however I’m a firm believer that a singer cannot do both classical and pop without the voice suffering. The two genres require a different approach and technique, and they are too conflicting.” Miriam started studying opera in earnest with Blagovesta Karnobatlova Dobreva – a Bulgarian opera singer who taught voice in Malta. “I first worked with her at the Opera Studio, and eventually she encouraged me to study with her at the Bulgarian state music academy ‘Panchio Vladigerov’ in Sofia. After four years at the Academy, I graduated with honours in opera singing and furthered my studies with Juliette Bisazza Zanni in Milan, and later took master-classes with Magda Olivero. “My opera debut was in L’Elisir D’Amore at the Varna Opera House in Bulgaria and I sung the role of Adina. This same opera was repeated a few months later at the Manoel Theatre and starred Joseph Calleja!” she recalls. “The last opera I was in was Turandot at the Aurora Theatre last October, and I sang Liu in a new production. I sang alongside the great Maria Guleghina,” she tells me, recalling the moment in awe. I ask Miriam if any of the parts she has played stick out in her mind. “My favourite and most memorable role was definitely Violetta in La Traviata,” she says with a wide smile. “Actually I love all the roles I have performed so far – they have become a part of me. Maybe Violetta stands out because it is such a difficult role both vocally and dramatically. It is a very intense part. Also, working with Zeffirelli’s assistant, Marco Gandini, on this production was mind-blowing. By the end of the run I needed a couple of days to come back down to earth!” she laughs. “Meanwhile, one of the concerts I remember very fondly is when I represented Malta at the Berlin Konzerthaus when Malta joined the EU. I am a keen recitalist and find it so rewarding performing lieder and orchestral works, which are by no means easy. Amongst my favourite are the very challenging Berg’s Sieben Freuhe Lieder – which I performed last November with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Eric Hull at the Manoel Theatre. The Bachianas Brasileiras by Villa Lobos, which I performed some years ago, are very close to my heart too”. Next up Miriam will be singing the role of Desdemona in Verdi’s Othello at the Astra Theatre in October. “Verdi is one of my favourite composers and I am greatly looking forward to this production, as well as to singing at the Astra again. However, in the meantime, I’m working on my new baby – a CD of Maltese songs by several talented Maltese composers. Most of the numbers were composed with my voice in mind and I feel honoured to have so many composers taking part in this project. “As a Maltese singer, I feel duty bound to be an ambassador of Maltese music. I am sure that this CD will


appeal to people from all walks of life. I always try to include Maltese compositions in my recitals – both locally and abroad – and I am always amazed by how well they are received.” Back in the moment, I am keen to know more about one of Miriam’s proudest moments – receiving the National Order of Merit. “When, in 2009, I received the call that I was going to be given the award, it felt surreal. Naturally, I felt so flattered and grateful. “My country has honoured me and I have the responsibility to promote Malta through my singing and to share my experience with my vocal students at The Johann Strauss School of Music. We have so many beautiful voices and some very promising singers who are enthusiastic to pursue a career in singing. I try to do my bit to help, direct and nurture, she says.” Miriam is married to the talented cellist Simon Abdilla Joslin. “We are blessed with a beautiful daughter, Clara – our pride and joy,” she says as her face softens. “She and my husband are my backbone. My career moves around my family and not the other way round,” she insists. “Clara is very keen on the performing arts and loves singing, playing the piano and acting. After watching one of my performances she told me that she’d like to be a singer – but not an opera singer, as they nearly always die at the end of the show!” she says with a laugh. “I love performing with my husband whenever the occasion presents itself. My parents were always (and obviously still are) so proud of me and very supportive – even if, initially, they saw little future for me in this profession as it was less common in the past for people to make a living from opera. Nonetheless I always had their support. “As a family, we love travelling and our favourite destination is the Czech Republic. We have visited several times both for work and recreation. Different languages and cultures fascinate me. I am very much at home performing French melodie and German lied, as well as Slavic and Latin American music.” Miriam also looks up to Maria Callas. “She’s an inspiration,” she says. “She was a unique, multi-faceted artist who gave her all. Her candle burnt out too early. Her recordings and notes are great points of reference for me.” I ask her what performance means to her and she comes over all lyrical: “Performing is a beautiful art form and those who have the gift for it are truly blessed. It is special because it transports you to another dimension with its whirlpool of emotions. It is divine and in

TOP: Performing the role of Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata at Astra Theatre Gozo in 2010. BOTTOM: Performing her first leading role at 9 in the Primary Schools Mini musicals at the Aurora Theatre Gozo

my opinion it is like a sacred act of love. This doesn’t mean that it is all a bed of roses – it takes great sacrifice, commitment, discipline and energy, but it is like touching heaven with your fingertips!” she almost whispers. “Perhaps I am a contradiction in terms as I love performing and being on stage – but when I’m not performing I love to be lost in a crowd and to live a quiet life,” she reflects. “Personally I feel that it is through these extremes that a performer finds true balance in life.” Although Miriam now resides in Sliema, she and her family still spend much of their free time in Gozo. “My ideal day would include waking up late, a bit of yoga, some singing and preparing a great meal and enjoying it with my loved ones over a good bottle of wine. I love cooking and I enjoy good food – and I do try to eat healthy food and take exercise,” she concludes with a big smile. 9


BOWLING comes to Gozo


comes to Gozo. Lucky Jack’s Bar, Grill & Bowling is now open at the Downtown Hotel in Victoria. Aimed at adding variety to the entertainment scene on the island, Lucky Jack’s is an entertainment centre that includes four brand new bowling lanes, an American-style grill, a sports lounge bar and a mini arcade. But let’s start with the bowling. State-of-the-art equipment has been installed by the world’s leading bowling company with all the latest gadgets that will guarantee a truly exciting bowling experience. Everybody can bowl, from children to senior citizens, as our automatic bumpers on the lanes make it easier and just as enjoyable for the little ones and the cautious first-timers. For more sophisticated entertainment Lucky Jack’s will be having cosmic and disco bowling on weekends when the disco lights will come on accompanied by the latest tunes and the not so latest

10 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013

grooves from years gone by. Lucky Jack’s glow in the dark lanes, pins, balls and shoes will simply dazzle you. There is also Lucky Jack’s American style grill with a menu that includes all your typical favourites such as juicy chicken wings, nachos topped with melted cheese and Lucky Jack’s chicken. On selected nights Lucky Jack’s will also open its free salad bar with main course dishes. A good selection of pizza, pasta and salads and children’s meals are also included on the menu, as well as an adequate wine list to go with your choice of food. Lucky Jack’s sports and lounge bar will screen all major sports events on high definition TVs. It also has a mini-arcade where you can shoot some pool and play air-hockey amongst other games. So while on Gozo, Lucky Jack’s is the ultimate entertainment place for everyone. It is also the ideal place to organize your party for any special occasion, be it birthday, hens’ or bachelors’ parties, as well as corporate events. Just call us to discuss your needs and we will be more than happy to assist you in organising that memorable event. Lucky Jack’s is now open at the Downtown Hotel, Triq l-Ewropa, Victoria so it is quite central and can be easily reached by public transport. It is open 7days a week, normally on Mondays to Fridays from 5pm till late, and from 10am till late on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.Lucky Jack’s is operated by the Gozo Bowling & Leisure Co. Ltd. Please call on 22108141 or 79458869 (Jason Vella) or 99422040 (Joe Muscat).



Pretty much every Gozitan is aware of Frenc ta’ L-Gharb – a man who became a legend in his own time for his religious devotion and his ability to heal people. Coryse Borg speaks to someone who gives her insight into the life of this remarkable man. 11


“Although Frenc never studied medicine or worked in a medical environment, he was considered a healer by many Gozitans and Maltese.” 12 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013

Photo: Dr Joseph Bezzina


t’s a perfect spring day when I meet Sunta Apap at her house in Gharb. We had spoken on the phone earlier and her directions were impeccable. Besides, it’s easy to find her abode as it bears her name. I knock on the door and it is opened by Sunta herself – a small, elderly lady who I guess to be in her late 70s. She greets me and asks me in to sit down on one of the sofas in her small living room. A delicious smell of minestra permeates the room. An aura of calm and serenity pervades the house and radiates from Sunta, who lives alone. I am here to speak to Sunta about her association with Francis Xavier Mercieca, known as Frenc ta’ L-Gharb, who was born in Gharb in 1892. Frenc had a tough childhood. He left school before his teens, to


Frenc ta' l-Gharb home may be visited upon appointment. It has pretty much been left the same way it was when he died

work in the fields with his father from early morning to late evening. When he was older, he became an active member of the Catholic Action movement and fostered a great devotion for the Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu. He remained a bachelor throughout his life. Although Frenc never studied medicine or worked in a medical environment, he was considered a healer by many Gozitans and Maltese. Pretty much every time he returned from working in the fields, he would find people waiting for him at home – and later at his makeshift

“Frenc loved to work. He loved to laugh. That is how I remember him… always happy, always cracking jokes.” clinic – soliciting advice, eliciting prayers or asking him to heal wounds or sickness with his herbal remedies. His religious devotion and faith in Our Lady – coupled with his vast knowledge of medicinal herbs and an alleged almost-psychic ability which enabled him to anticipate questions before they were asked and disclose past personal incidents to visitors –

earned him the reputation of a Holy Man. In fact, he used to claim that it was Jesus and the Madonna who were healing the sick through him. Of course, many bona fide medical practitioners were extremely skeptical about what Frenc was doing. This is probably what led to him being taken to court in 1938 and charged with unauthorised medical 13


practice. People still came to visit him, and, after a while, it was decided to allow him to continue with his practice. Frenc died in 1967. Such is the ‘pull’ of this man, though, that people – from Malta,

Gozo and beyond – still go to Gharb and visit the house where Frenc lived. And this is where Sunta comes in, as she is the one – together with three or four volunteers – who takes care of the old house of Frenc Ta’ L-

According to Sunta, many University students come to visit Frenc's clinic

14 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013

Gharb, which has been turned into a museum. It basically showcases his house exactly the way it was left the day he died, as well as the two rooms which used to serve as his clinic. Sunta has a strong connection with Frenc. Her grandfather and her mother used to go to the fields or his home to pray with him, so when she was young, she used to see him pretty often. She also spent some time living with Frenc and his sister. “Frenc loved to work. He loved to laugh. That is how I remember him… always happy and cracking jokes,” Sunta tells me with a smile on her face. “He was very talented too, in many different ways. For example, he thaugh my mother how to cross-stitch!” Sunta reaches behind her and produces a raggedy piece of cloth, which she says is a towel that was made by Frenc himself. She remembers that, when he was at his clinic, there would be queues all the way from the church. She says that people came to visit him from as far afield as Australia. “He was an excellent judge of character… you couldn’t get one over him. He was very perceptive. He used to have the ability to ‘read hearts’,” she says. Frenc passed on any money given to him by his visitors to the Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary, with which he had very strong ties. In fact, he used to spend hours in prayer and meditation on Ghammar Hill, found in front of the sanctuary. He also erected a wooden cross and used to hold prayer meetings there. Sunta remained close to Frenc as she grew older and became a nurse. She never got married. She tells me a very interesting story about how Frenc first got the idea to build a Via Crucis on Ghammar Hill. “He loved the church and was always at Ta’ Pinu. One day, I was with him as he came out of the church. As we approached his house, he produced a rough piece of paper with a poem on it; a poem about a dream he had had the night before.” According to Sunta, the poem went: 'X’holma hlomt il-lejl li ghadda Sewwa appuntu f'nofs il-lejl. Hlomt li rajt hafna statwi U stenbaht u ma hsibt xejn. U xhin qghadt nikkonsidrahom Xejn ma kelli ghax nistaghgeb. Dal-lejl igibuni hniena Ghax dan kollu naghtih jiena.’ In short, he dreamt that there


would be statues on the hill and that he would be the one to bring this about. So he asked Sunta if she owned a measuring tape, so as to work out how far the statues needed to be from one other. His dream came true… but only after his death. I ask Sunta if many people come to visit Frenc’s house and clinic to-

day and she gives me a huge smile: “Lots of tourists and Maltese… lots of them come to visit. Most of them come to pray. Some bring candles. Some take water from his well as a medicine. About two years ago a man dropped his glasses in the well and went to the opticians, who said he didn’t need glasses anymore. University students come

to see the clinic, too. Even in death Frenc is special.” Those who are interested in visiting Frenc ta’ L-Gharb’s house or clinic may call Sunta on 2155 3109.

Make your trip to Gozo truly memorable. Visit the Savina Creativity Centre and enjoy a free audio-visual experience on Gozo, watch Gozitan crafts in the making and sample Savina delicacies. Savina Creativity Centre, The Magro Food Village, Xewkija, Gozo - Malta Tel: 2156 2236 • 7956 2236 From Mgarr Harbour follow the main road to Victoria, until you reach the main roundabout. Then follow the signs to The Magro Food Village 15


The Daily

GRIND As the beloved Ta’ Kola Windmill begins another important stage in its long life – that of the complete conservation and reconstruction of its milling mechanism – Jo Caruana discovers more about its important history and the vital role it played. 16 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013


never fail to be impressed by the huge number of attractions worth visiting on Gozo. From the temples to the Citadella – and everything in between – there’s a wealth of interesting and exciting places to visit, including ones the whole family will enjoy. The Ta’ Kola windmill, located in the charming village of Xaghra, is one such site, promising a glimpse back in time from both a work- and home-life perspective. “Ta’ Kola is one of the very few surviving windmills on the Maltese islands dating from the Knights’ period.


TOP & BELOW: Part of the windmill's old woodwork, which is now being reconstructed. LEFT: The windmill's new cone taking shape.

This 200-year-old building is literally a living testimony to our forefathers’ way of life, which was marked with hardships and daily struggles,” explains Daphne M. Caruana, the museum's curator. As she explains, back then the windmill, much like the local parish church, was one of the main focal points of village life. After all, it provided the villagers with flour for the production of bread – the most staple and indispensable food item at the time. “The Knights of St John are popularly credited with the introduction of wind-powered mills on the Maltese islands, however one cannot completely exclude the possibility that some form of wind-driven mills existed even before their arrival,” Daphne continues. “Nevertheless, it is certain that, during the first An early 20th century view of Ta' Kola Windmill. 17


“This 200-year-old building is literally a living testimony to our forefather’s way of life.”

The scaffolding around the windmill's stone tower, which facilitated dismantling works and which will aid in putting the new structure in place.

18 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013

century of the Knights’ rule, the animal driven mitħna tal-miexi was the principal method for grinding grain locally.” Following an introductory period, during which time the Order experimented with different models for harnessing the power of the wind, the first windmills of the type (and the ones we are familiar with today) started to appear on mainland Malta at the turn of the 17th century. It was actually the Grand Master Nicolas Cotoner who introduced the basic design of the wind-driven mills. It was a design that was imported from his native homeland, the Spanish island of Majorca, where windmills very similar to Malta’s are still in existence today. “The first windmill to be built on Gozo, towards the end of the 17th century, was situated on the outskirts of the island’s capital, Rabat, but sadly this hasn’t survived. “The Knights went on to build another four windmills on the island; the first one, in Xagħra, was built in 1725 but was pulled down around 40 years after its construction. A new windmill, the one we know today, was built on a new site in 1787.” Within the rest of its story, Ta’ Kola passed through the hands of generations of millers and their families, who continued to operate it till the 20th century. “Interestingly, this windmill is named after the last miller who resided in it, Ġuzeppi Grech, known locally as Żeppu ta’ Kola,” Daphne explains. “With the introduction of steam-driven mills, most wind-driven models fell into a state of ruin and disrepair. This mill fortunately escaped this fate, and that is largely down


Several details of the new woodwork under construction by Heritage Malta's staff.

Detail of a hand-operated mill.

to Żeppu, who dedicated copious amounts of time and energy to its upkeep until his death in 1987. Justly, many of the exhibits at the mill today focus on his work, and include the milling mechanisms that he used on a daily basis.”

Continuing the windmill’s tale, it was entrusted to the Department of Museums in 1992, when it opened its doors to visitors and became a local attraction. “When Heritage Malta took over, barely a decade later, the site continued to be upgraded, especially in terms of interpretation so as to provide visitors with the information required to best appreciate the historical and cultural values of the mill,” Daphne continues. And the last year has seen the beginning of what is, possibly, one of the most important projects undertaken by Heritage Malta related to this site. It involves the conservation and reconstruction of the milling mechanism, both internally and externally. 19


Detail of a hand-operated mill showing a hand-painted female face. The conch shell (known is il-bronja) was used to altert farmers that it was time to bring their sacks of wheat to the mill.

“The miller had a special way of communicating with the villagers through a conch shell, known as il-bronja.” “This was in an advanced state of deterioration and thus required urgent attention. It is now earmarked for completion by summer of this year, and will see the windmill restored to full working condition. “However, even now, a visit to Ta’ Kola is guaranteed to be a rewarding experience for any visitor,” Daphne ¸eppu Kola - the last miller who lived and operated Ta' Kola Windmill

20 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013

smiles, adding that the objects on display and the information provided are designed in a way to provide visitors with an insight into the lost trade of the miller. “There’s an impressive collection of tools used by the miller, which is definitely one of the most interesting parts, while the first floor recreates a domestic dwelling that would have been common in most local rural areas of centuries past.” These rooms, though relatively small, were meant to accommodate the miller’s family – and this was an arrangement that was found in most windmills built during the Knights' and British periods. “Looking back, it is difficult to fully comprehend the extent of the hard work that went into the miller’s operation of a windmill – especially in the context of life as we know it today. Besides the physical work needed to keep the windmill running, one of the greatest difficulties was that their livelihood depended entirely on the weather that, by its very nature, was variable and unpredictable. “The summer months were inevitably when the miller had the most idle time, therefore a windy day during this time was a precious commodity that would most definitely not go to waste. Interestingly, if such a day happened to fall on a Sunday or a religious holiday, millers would have been required to seek the Church’s dispensation before operating their mill! “Meanwhile, the miller also had a special way of communicating with the villagers, and this was through a conch shell, known as 'il-bronja'. He would blow into it in a trumpet-like manner to produce a sound that would echo across the entire village and signal that it was time for the farmers to bring their sacks of wheat to the windmill to be ground into flour and other cereals. Back then life was much quieter, and few sounds could compete with the bronja’s call.” So, from the methods of communication to the simple nuances of the miller’s daily life, it is all celebrated and remembered at Ta’ Kola – and this gives the welcome chance to slip back a few centuries and experience a whole other way of life. “It’s a true testimony. The various items found on dis-


TOP: Ta' Kola Windmill a few years back. LEFT: The forge or furnace in the windmill's workshop.

play here all represent a trade, a tradition or a piece of local folklore that consistently arouse our visitors’ curiosity and encourage them to search deeper into their story and meaning,” Daphne concludes. “There’s no doubt that it should feature on the itinerary of any jam-packed and adventure-filled day on Gozo.”

Ta’ Kola Windmill is one of six Heritage Malta sites on Gozo. It is open from Monday to Sunday, from 9am to 5pm (last admission 4.30pm). The entrance fee is €5 and includes admission to the Ggantija Temples. For further information call on 2156 4188 or visit With thanks to Nicoline Sagona. 21


Coryse Borg is lucky enough to witness the creation of a wicker basket and traditional hasira by a man who is, quite possibly, the last person to practice this craft on Gozo.

Weaving the Past

and the Present I

m not very good at craft-making (although, since becoming a mum, I have had to try and be better at creating papier maché animals and so on!). So I am very impressed when I meet people who are good with their hands. Anton Muscat is definitely one of these people. I meet him in the ga-

22 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013

rage of his house in Nadur... a garage full of wicker baskets (qfief ) – big ones, small ones, oval ones, round ones, cylindrical ones – and hasira, a kind of ‘curtain’ made out of cane that is placed over the front door, protecting it from the elements. Each and every one of which has been created by Anton.

Although manufacturing wicker baskets is a hobby for Anton, he takes it very seriously. When I arrive, he is already in his work clothes – cap, old checked shirt, khaki trousers and carpet slippers – and has just started working on an oval basket. He invites me to sit down while his charming wife


“When I was young, I remember at least three or four people, aside from my dad, who used to make wicker baskets in Nadur. Nowadays, I do not know anyone else apart from me who makes them.”

gets me a cup of coffee. I also get to meet Sparky the dog, who sniffs my shoes and wags his tail. A couple of pats later, he is lying comfortably at my feet. As we chat, Anton works on an oval basket. He explains that he gets the raw material for his baskets from his own one-acre field, which is located in Ramla Valley. Anton learned the craft from his dad, who made baskets by hand until he was 90 years old. Anton himself has been doing it for over 25 years. “When I was young, I remember at least three or four people, aside from my dad, who made wicker baskets in Nadur. Nowadays, I don’t know of anyone else who makes

them. No one is interested in learning this sort of craft any more. Let’s face it, you’re not going to get rich doing this. This generation is more interested in getting a steady job to have ready money,” he sighs.

As he speaks, Anton hammers the basket into shape with a tool that used to belong to his dad. The other tools he uses were custom-made for him by a craftsman in Gharb, many years ago. Anton shakes his 23


Sparky watches his master create his craft with tools which, sadly, are not being made anymore.

“And there I have it – a medium-sized qoffa created right in front of my very eyes in less than half an hour. The basket even smells divine, like a field right after its rains.” head sadly as he tells me that nobody makes tools like this anymore. That’s another problem. At this point, I am mesmerised by the way his deft fingers work the wicker so quickly. In less than 10 minutes, the basket is almost half way to being ready. It’s amazing to watch. And I can see that it’s not easy. At one point, sweat begins to form on Anton’s brow as he holds the basket tight between his thighs

and weaves the wicker in and out. Anton’s hands are weather-beaten and tough. He tells me that a couple of weeks ago he had quite a bad injury on his hand, which he got while working on a basket. “Not everyone is cut out to do this kind of craft,” he tells me, “It requires dexterity and, yes, a lot of strength. And lots of patience. It’s hard work (xoghol ta’ tbatija).” Why does he do it then, I ask?

Anton's gnarled hands are testimony to his hard work.

24 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013

Well, first of all, he says, it’s because he enjoys it; it gives him satisfaction to work on something that he is good at. Secondly, he does not want the tradition to die out, although he knows that the likelihood is that there will be no-one to take over the craft when he stops doing it. By now the basket is in its final stages. At the top of it, he twists three stalks together. It looks very pretty. He weaves them in and out through the stalks that are already there. He is visibly tired after he finished the top bit. I can see that it really is tough work. Anton then adds four thin stalks on each side to create the handles. He plaits one handle and crosses it over to make a big 'braid'. Then, he does the same on the other side and voilà – a very sturdy handle, created in less than five minutes. The last bit is like sewing... the stalks go through the top of the basket. If the stalks are too big, he cuts them to size with a tool like a small scythe. Anton’s face contorts as he squints in concentration. During the last stage, he beats the basket into shape and cuts off any protruding bits of wicker. And there I have it – a medium-sized 'qoffa' created right in front of my very eyes in less than half an hour. The basket even smells divine, like a field right after it rains. The final product is remarkable. It’s really sturdy and strong; the handle too. This product will last forever, he says, not like mass-produced products.


Anton decides to take a welldeserved break before embarking on the creation of another wicker basket; this time a round one. He shows me some of his work – massive picnic baskets for fishermen, small

sewing baskets, and long cylindrical ones for picking strawberries. As I say my goodbyes and thank Anton for letting me watch him at work, I marvel for one last time at his baskets – a true product of

Gozo using local raw materials too. There's nothing like it anywhere in the world. It's unique. And I really can’t help but think that it is such a terrible pity that this craft is on the way out.

MGARR - GOZO: 2210 9000 / 2156 1622 / 2155 6016 25



The Sea Air… And The Flowers

From history to wildlife and everything in between, Jo Caruana takes a wonderful country walk through Munxar and Xlendi.

26 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013



adly I’m not as good at stopping to smell the flowers as I should be. I do when I remember, of course – perhaps when I’m on a walk with my dogs. But more than often life gets in the way and I find myself on the phone discussing work, busily chatting to a friend or mentally chugging through my to-do list. So the opportunity to go on a dedicated country walk was one I jumped at. Especially when I discovered the route would take me along the winding paths between Munxar and Xlendi, and even more so when I learnt the kind of views I was in for. The walk promises a full array of stunning sights - from lush expanses of greenery to the beautiful Munxar parish church. 27


Highlights of the walk include the beautiful terraces fields that stretch across the land, as well as the stunning cliffs that drop down to the sea.

28 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013

Munxar My trip starts in Munxar Square. Here I am greeted by Paul Curmi and Joseph Calleja from the Ghaqda Inhobbu l-Munxar u x-Xlendi, which strives to promote the historic, heritage and folklore aspects of the two localities. “We recently published a book, written by Joseph Bezzina, that provides interesting information about the route you’re about to take,” explains Paul, the organisation’s president. “It’s only little, so people can carry it with them as they explore, but it promises a wealth of infor-

mation on everything from the flora and fauna, to the historical spots to look out for.” With a copy of the book in hand, the three of us set off. One of the first highlights is the church dedicated to the Shipwreck of St Paul. It dates back to 1914, when its first stone was laid, and it makes for a very attractive landmark in the centre of this sleepy town. From here we start our walk in earnest, leaving the town behind and finding ourselves in the countryside. The fields here thrive in former quarries and the whole area is a carpet of flowers and grass – with the sparkling blue sea as its backdrop. At this point we could keep making our way to Xlendi, but Joseph suggests a slight detour – along a path to the cliff edge known as IsSanap. Already I’m bowled over by the view, as the stark colours of the cliffs fall sharply into the sea below. There’s a recently-paved path here, and it follows the cliffs along for a while, allowing for some of the most stunning outlooks I’ve ever seen. Of particular interest is il-Pinnur, the highest point in the area, as well as Comino to the left. We wander around for a while, marvelling at the view, chatting about the wildlife (which seems extremely rich), and befriending a local farmer who wanders by with a flock of goats and sheep. It feels like a very real picture of the Gozitan countryside, and one that no one should miss out on.



Back on the main route and we continue our journey to Xlendi – you’ll be happy to know that we stop to smell the flowers and admire the flora on various occasions, as well as to soak in the sea air. Once we reach Xlendi, we immediately take a little detour to Xlendi Tower, following the path of the inlet known as Il-Kantra. The path leads to a stone bridge that was built by the British, and grants access to Xlendi Tower (though it is a bit of a climb, so be sure to wear the right shoes). The tower was built in 1650 to deny entrance to smugglers and guard the island against quarantine evaders during the plague. It’s a stunning space, and I can’t help but take a moment to admire the view and majestic cliffs ahead of us. From here we trot back down to the road and make our way to Xlendi itself, with its high-rise buildings and pretty bay (which is already busy, despite the chill in the air). At one time it seems this bay provided refuge to Byzantine ships, and over the years it has also been a safe haven for the fishermen

based around the village. Today, though, the surroundings are more contemporary – with a variety of coffee shops, ice-cream parlours and restaurants vying for business. “There’s lots of interesting things to know 29

ADVENTURE History and nature combine - and you'll enjoy both on this walk.

“It feels like a very real picture of the Gozitan countryside, and one that no one should miss out on.”

Welcoming Xlendi Bay makes a great rest stop en-route - the perfect place to relax and enjoy a cold drink before setting off again.

30 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013

about Xlendi,” says Paul. “In fact, we’ve recently installed an electronic information kiosk that offers a plethora of information on the town. We hope it will encourage people to get to know the area better and to make the most of their time here.” Yes, Xlendi makes the perfect rest-spot at the half-way point on this walk. But today we don’t have much time for resting, and instead trundle on in the direction of Victoria towards the area known as il-Fekruna (named because of the rock formation’s uncanny likeness to a tortoise). The valley to our right is known to be extremely fertile and has quite a history to it. If you keep your eyes peeled you will spot the remains of a medieval limekiln in a spot known as il-Hofra; it’s easy to imagine what the area would have looked like when this building was enjoying its heyday. There’s more to this area than that, though, including some very special wildlife. The tableland here is actually home to an endemic species of snail known as dussies ta’ Ghawdex shell – a terrestrial pulmonate snail with a light yellowish-grey coloured. There’s also a number of endemic plants and other typical vegetation as well as freshwater insects and soft water crustaceans. Oh, and not forgetting the wild thyme, which gives such a sweet scent to the air. After breathing it in for a while, we make our way up Triq il-Munxar, and find ourselves back in the village where we started. Here we’re on the look out for niches, embedded in the façades of old houses. One has an artistic stone statue of St John the Baptist, while another is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Sorrows. Each has a story to tell, and I seep up the information contained in the helpful book. Finally, after trekking for a couple of hours, we find ourselves back in the square – staring up at the church once again and


Fact or Fiction? According to Bezzina’s book, legend has it that an escapee from nearby Sicily once lived in the area like a wild rabbit. Scarily, he would sometimes attack passers-by if he couldn’t find anything to eat! This encouraged locals to keep away from the area. This is just one of several legends found in the book.

commenting on its beauty. The sleepy square seems like the perfect ending point to this fabulous walk – a place to rest your legs as you recollect the many man-made and natural wonders you’ve experienced, as well as the many legends of the area that now bob round your head. Could they be true? Well – I’ve picked one of my favourite legends

to share with you, but if you want to know more, you’re going to have to grab a copy of book and start walking yourself! Pick up your copy of ‘A walking through the districts of il-Munxar and ix-Xlendi and their history, heritage and folklore’ at the local council offices. 31


A weekend of fun - Gozitan style

A Night to

Remember Notte Gozitana (the Gozitan equivalent of Notte Bianca) is fast approaching, so Pia Zammit pulls an all-nighter to sample all the fun on offer – for your benefit of course!

32 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013


Gozo flaunts the vibrancy of her cultural and artistic life

Photos: Gozo Culture Office


edition of Lejliet Lapsi – Notte Gozitana – an all-night festival that will be held in Victoria, Gozo. This extremely popular night (plus extras!) of fun is organised by the Notte Gozitana Organising Committee and the Gozo Culture office within the Ministry for Gozo, and this year it will run from the evening of Friday 10 May till

the evening of Saturday 11 May. There will also be a soft ending on the Sunday. When Notte Gozitana started seven years ago it was held in various districts around the island. However the Ministry realised that festivalgoers prefer to have a more localised event – they found that this enhances the festival experience as crowds don’t spread themselves too thin – so

it has since been based in Victoria for a few years. The organisers annually try to identify new and different areas for the many activities. Two years ago the main events took place up in the Citadel, and last year’s events were concentrated in the narrow streets. This year, it’s back to the town centre as the main base, with several events also happening in the Citadel. 33

SPIRIT A showcase of Gozitan talent

This year the Notte Gozitana programme aims to create a platform for Gozo’s characteristics. So while there are a fair number of Maltese participants, the organisers hope to showcase Gozitan talent as much as possible - in fact Gozitan artists

and performers play a primary role in this event. The ministry and committee want the myriad activities to mainly showcase the island’s art and culture whilst also allowing space for its history and traditions So what can we, the festival-goers, expect this year? Well, pageantry, impressive visual effects, Gozitan performers and foreign artists are happily on the menu. The highlight of the Saturday evening performances is expected to be a concert version of

the rock-opera ‘Gensna’, which will be performed by a live orchestra under the baton of Maestro Paul Abela. Also on our bill of fare is ‘Immaculate’ – a dance and drama show by Naupaca, a snazzy vintage car show, and a concert by Airport Impressions. Aside from the live performance events, several museums will also stay open for the duration of the festival. These include the Archaeology and Folklore Museums, the Old Prisons, the grain silos within the

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34 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013


Programme highlights: FRIDAY 10TH MAY 8pm: Gozo Through The Ages A historical parade in period costume and with re-enactments. Takes place along the main streets and ends in Independence Square, Victoria.


10.30pm: Concert by Airport Impressions In St Francis Square, Victoria

*** Citadel, and the newly-inaugurated historical-museum-come-culturecentre ‘Il-Hagar’ (which sits adjacent to St George’s Basilica). The premises of the Ministry for Gozo will also be open for public viewing. Meanwhile, a couple of years ago, a very successful event was added to the festival – Saturday Tours. These include transport to various cultural heritage sites such as towers, chapels and monasteries, tours to EcoGozo sites and Gozitan flora and fauna, boat tours to see the coastal formation of Gozo, as well as walking tours around Victoria incorporating chapels, shelters and the intrigue of the narrow streets. And although Notte Gozitana was originally a Saturday-to-Sunday celebration, the organisers recognised that many festival-goers journeyed over from Malta on the Friday night to spend the whole weekend on Gozo. Thus, they decided to run the festival from Friday to Sunday, maximising the days of fun for everyone. The team are also making several provisions for transport to and on Gozo, and these include special arrangements and fares for the Gozo ferry as well as extended Arriva bus services. This time around, nothing has been left to chance and all systems are in place to ensure that you will enjoy a weekend jam-packed with culture, art and heritage. For three days of the year, Gozo is set to shed its peaceful demeanour and flaunt the vibrancy of its cultural and artistic life. All this will reach its culmination in the magical nocturnal hours of Notte Gozitana… so, enjoy!

SATURDAY 11TH MAY 09.30am: Departure of cultural tours


9.30am: Lunchtime Concert At St Barbara’s Chapel, Gozo Citadel

8.30pm: Spectacular show on the main stage in Independence Square (It-Tokk)


10.30pm: Chill-out stage with live bands in St George’s Square.

*** SUNDAY 12TH MAY 9.30am: Vintage car show in St Augustine’s Square, Victoria


6.30pm: Musical drama in Maltese by the Gozo Creative Theatre Club



• Exhibition of paintings by H.M. Bateman at the Ministry for Gozo Halls in St Francis Square


• Exhibition of paintings by Giuseppe Briffa at the Banca Giuratale Foyer, Independence Square

1pm: Traditional Gozitan Meal At St John’s demi-bastion, Gozo Citadel 7pm: Children’s Area In Savina Square


7pm: Various indoor Concerts Held at St James’ Church, Savina Church, Franciscan Nuns’ Church, St George’s Basilica, Cathedral Church, the Diocesan Curia Courtyard and the Cittadella Centre for Culture & Arts


7.30pm: The Ministry for Gozo will be opened for public viewing


8.30pm: Outdoor folklore music and dance held in St Francis Square, San Gorg tal-Hagar, Triq ilProvidenza, Triq il-Karmnu and Triq Mons Guzeppi Farrugia

• Collective exhibition of paintings ‘Gentes IV’ at the Cittadella Centre for Culture & Arts • Past Traditions exhibition at the Culture & Identity Resource Centre, Gozo Citadel • Exhibition of antique paintings at the Sacred Heart Seminary Hall, Enrico Mizzi Street, Victoria • Immaculate – a dance and drama show by Naupaca on Republic Street, Victoria • ‘Dar l-Artist’ – housing selections of art by artists residing on Gozo • ‘Mill-pinna tal-kittieba Ghawdin’ – sale of publications by Gozitan authors 35




Jo Caruana heads into a dark, damp tunnel to meet Frank Xerri – the man behind many of the Maltese Islands’ mushrooms. 36 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013



Mushroom Midwife,” grins Frank Xerri, as he casts an eye over his growing ‘mushroom babies’ at the Casafunghi mushroom cultivation unit in Xewkija. “But I suppose in some ways I am.” And indeed he is. After all, Frank is the man responsible for the ‘births’ of around 10,000 mushrooms every week, all of which are consumed locally. The company’s base, within the Gozitano Complex, is a warren of rooms each breeding thousands of mushrooms over a cycle that sees them develop from the spawning and mycelium stages, and grow into full fledged mushrooms (ideal for topping pizzas and throwing into pasta sauces). It’s an exciting space to explore, with different sights and smells that shed light on the almost-magical process that creates these dinky edible fungi. But how exactly did Frank come to inhabit the mushroom world? “Well, it all started back in 1982 when I enrolled on a three-year lab technician course,” Frank explains, taking a trip down memory lane. “Then, a few years after graduating, I chose to leave the medical environment and joined a local dairy company. There I was responsible for the running of the Gozo branch and it gave me insight into farm life. It opened my eyes, and I realised that, with farming, the raw materials may differ but the work principals remain the same. So, inspired by the idea of cultivating mushrooms and with some

Cultivation is taken very seriously and every stage is monitored by the highly-trained staff.

entrepreneurial spirit thrown in, I went for it and launched Casafunghi.” Frank started by trialling the mushroom-growing process in a big garage he had at the time, and later rented the premises the company still runs from today. To-date he utilises the ‘Dutch’ system, which reduces energy costs, increases the mushroom-growing surface area and improves production. “I now have nine rooms,” he explains. “Which means there is a continuous batch process on-going, with each of the rooms at a particular moment within the cultivation cycle at any time. We operate 365 days a year, and also have a farm in Malta.” Today, 17 years since kick-starting it all, there isn’t much that Frank doesn’t know about the mushroomgrowing process. But what does he enjoy most about it? “I guess it would have to be its fast turnaround time,” he says. “Mushrooms go from substrate – the very first phase – to final product in 30 days. I remember that that fact was very important to me when I set up shop back then; it seemed to make sense.”

“Mushrooms go from substrate – the very first phase – to final product in 30 days.” 37


Casafunghi utilises the Dutch method of mushroom production, with many trays cultivating at the same time.

Three types of mushrooms are produced here – all different shapes and sizes – with a batch process that is on-going every day of the year.

38 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013

Meanwhile, he’s pleased with the fact that mushrooms remain a popular product. “Consumers like them locally,” he says. “Especially as they go so well on pizza and in pasta dishes. I don’t think we reach the same sales numbers as the UK per capita – where they are extremely popular for breakfast – but I think our consumption levels are higher than average when compared to other parts of Europe. “Since I got started in the business, there’s also a been a huge improvement in the quality of the mushrooms on offer. A couple of decades ago, people were just happy to find that mushrooms were available at all, but customers are more discerning now and below-standard items simply won’t sell. Having said that I always prefer older mushrooms – I find that young, fresh, white ones may look better, but that older ones have more flavour. People can actually keep mushrooms for quite a while after buying them – in my opinion they only get better with age!” But despite being immersed in the world of fungi for much of the year, Frank does forget to take a box or two home sometimes. “The other day we had friends visiting and I joked that we would have to go out to buy some mushrooms from the corner shop! I really do like them though and think they’re a great addition to all sorts of meals – they don’t need much cooking, have a very neutral taste and integrate easily into a huge variety of recipes.” Pleasingly, Frank’s mushroom ‘empire’ has now grown into a family business, with his son and daughter joining in. “My daughter now controls the mushroom picking, while my son – who is sill at school – does odd jobs too.” As for what Frank does when the mushroom picking is done? “I cultivate mushrooms!” he grins, “It’s my hobby too. I am involved in mushroom cultivation overseas, and never stop looking into it. Personally, I believe this industry goes beyond being a job and required endless amounts of dedication. If you don’t love doing it you won’t last long – and thankfully I love doing it!” 39


Just Round The Corner Gozo Half Marathon 2013 Xaghra, 6th of February


he Gozo Half Marathon was organised for the first time in Xaghra, Gozo on the 6th of February, 1977, making it the oldest marathon in the Maltese Islands. The first Marathon was made up of only 35 competitors which were

mainly made up of Xaghra youths. However, this number has rapidly increased, with a large number of Maltese coming all the way from Malta in order to participate. Children can participate in one of two races (2km or 4km race). Adults can take part in the 8 mile or 13.1 mile race. Last year we also

introduced the 13.1 mile Mountain Bike Race. This year we have introduced an online registration and payment system, which has already seen a positive response from athletes. For more information: Xaghra Youth Centre, 79284619,, W:

C Commemoration | E Event | M Music/Concert | F Folklore Event | P Procession | R Religious Event | S Showcase/Exhibition | T Theatre/Film

APRIL 2013:

28Apr-27May 9-19

Paintings by Joseph Balucci

St. Ursola Hall, Cittadella Centre for Culture & Arts

Sacred Heart Seminary, Enrico Mizzi Street, Victoria

A collective art exhibition. For more info: JPII Foundation, Tel. 9944 1076

Sacred Heart exhibition. For more info: Tel. 2155 6479 W:

12-28 S

Independence Sqr, Victoria Art exhibition. For more info: Gozo Cultural Office, Tel. 2215 6700 W:


Sweet Music (The Mikado Operetta) M

Cittadella Centre for Culture & Arts

Opera, ballet & musicals on the big screen. W:


Il-Fiera tad-Dwejra

Dwejra Bay, San Lawrenz

A traditional fair for the whole family. For more info: San Lawrenz Festa Committee, Tel. 2155 6073.


Liturgical Feast of Saint George, Martyr R

St. George’s Sqr and main streets, Victoria Band marches by the La Stella Band, Victoria. For more info: La Stella Philharmonic Society, Tel. 2155 6256 W:


Gentes IV





JUNE 2013:

2 P

Corpus Domini

All Gozitan villages

Main square and streets, Victoria

A traditional manifestation with the Blessed Sacrament and young children dressd in the traditional zimarra. For more info: Gozo’s Parish Offices, Tel. 2155 6661 W:

MAY 2013:

Gozo’s version of White Nights. A festival including concerts, exhibitons, street theatre, folklore and gastronomy. W:

S School of Art Annual Exhibition

S Painting Bozzetoes by Profs Guzeppi Briffa

C Pope John Paul the Second Memorial Festival

Exhibition of arts & crafts. For more info: Ministry for Gozo, Tel. 2215 6400 W:

Exhibition curated by the Gozo Culture Office. W:

An instrumental and vocal performance commemorating the late pope’s 93rd birth anniversary. For more info: Tel. 2155 8822 W:

Gozo Annual Marathon Walk E

Commencing in Xaghra, along various roads in Gozo Sports activity organised by the Gozo Amateur Athletic Ass. For more info: Xaghra Local Council, Tel. 2156 3737 W:


Banca Giuratale Foyer, Independence Sqr, Victoria

45 &

Saturday Night Fever M

Astra Theatre, Victoria A live musical dance performance by Yada Dance Academy. For more info: Tel. 9982 5077 W:

E Lejliet Lapsi Notte Gozitana


Museum of sculpture, Xewkija


Sweet Music Ernani (Opera by Giuseppe Verdi) M

Citadella Centre for Culture and Arts - Victoria Opera, ballet & musicals on the big

40 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013

screen. W:


Exhibiton Hall, Ministry for Gozo, St. Francis Sqr, Victoria


S Paintings by Mario Portelli

Banca Giuratale Foyer, Independence Sqr, Victoria W:

6 C

Sette Giugno

Bullara Street, Xaghra National celebration including a wreath laying ceremony. W:



E Victoria International Arts Festival

St. George’s Basilica and annex, Victoria Festival with the participation of local and foreign artists. For more info: Tel. 2155 6377 W:


E Bis-sahha Wine Festival

Santa Lucija Sqr, Santa Lucija hamlet, Kercem Wine tasting, food stalls and entertainment. For more info: Tel. 9984 1080. W:

10 C

Jum il-Belt Victoria

Independence Sqr, Victoria

Locality day commemoration. For more info: Tel. 2156 3344, rabat.

14-16 F

Fiori D’ Argenta

Church square and main streets, Xewkija Cultural and historical festival. W:


Yada Dance Academy. For more info: Mob. 9982 5077. W:

22-23 S

Wirja Agrarja

St. Peter and St. Paul Sqr, Nadur

Exhibition of agriculture products and entertainment related to traditional folklore. For more info: Nadur Local Council, Tel. 2155 8080 W:


Il-Hgejjeg ta’ San Gwann F

St. John’s demi Bastion, Cittadella, Victoria Traditional bonfire along with folklore music and dance, celebrating the feast of Saint John the Baptist. W:

JULY 2013:


E Summer Gardens Art Festival

Greek Theatre, Villa Rundle Gardens, Republic Street, Victoria Music, art, drama, literature & dance. W:


Annual Dance Show

S Paintings by Justin Falzon

A live musical dance performance by



Greek Theatre, Villa Rundle, Republic Street, Victoria

Banca Giuratale Foyer, Independence Sqr, Victoria


M Summer Nights 2013

Victory Square, Xaghra Live music and entertainment in Victory Square. W:


Hondoq By Night

Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay Musical Event featuring local talents. For more info: Qala Local Council, Tel. 2155 2555


R Fjakkolata taxXlendi

Xlendi Bay

Traditional flaming torches illuminating Xlendi Bay, celebrating the liturgical feast of the hamlet’s patron Our Lady of Mount Carmel. W:

17 R

Sweet Music

Citadella Centre for Culture and Arts, Gozo Citadel, Victoria Opera, ballet and musicals on the big screen. W:


Summer Nights 2013 R

Victory Sqr, Xaghra

Live music and entertainment. W:

festas: 1 May, Zebbug:

Feast of St. Joseph

5 May, Xaghra:

Feast of St. Joseph

24 & 24 May, Munxar:

Feast of St. Paul

1 & 2 June, Mgarr Hamlet in Ghajnsielem:

Feast of St. Anthony of Padova

7-9 June, Ghasri: Feast of the Christ the Saviour

14-16 June, Fontana: Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

21-23 June, Xewkija:

Feast of St. John the Baptist

27-29 June, Nadur:

Feast of St. Peter & St. Paul

5-7 July, Kercem: Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

13-15 July, Victoria: Feast of St. George

19-21 July, Sannat: Feast of St. Margaret 41


OUTSTANDING gourmet event at Ta’ Frenc TA’







exquisite themed night of Piedmont cuisine, wines and grappa last Saturday (13 April, 2013), inviting Michelin star chef Maurilio Garola to team up with their own head chef Mario Schembri to produce an outstanding gourmet event. The eight-course meal was matched with regional wines by Michele Chiarlo and a splendid grappa from Distillierie Berta, all kindly supplied by Attard & Co. (Foodstuffs) Ltd through their partner in Gozo, Abraham’s Supplies Co. Ltd. Alberto Chiarlo, Marketing Director of Michele Chiarlo, the eldest son of the owner of the eponymous Michele Chiarlo, outlined the sequence in which the wines would be tasted on the night. The aperitif was a Blanc de Blanc Pietro Chiarlo Bollicine, made of a 50:50 blend of Cortese and Chardonnay grapes, which is aged for 30 months. Alberto, who was accompanied by his wife Simona Depaoli and Annamaria Serafino, described this Metodo Classico Cuvée as a trip down memory lane for the Chiarlo family since his father started his firm producing sparkling Piedmont wines. Giovanni Bocchino, Export Manger of Distillierie Berta, told the guests that the Elisi grappa they would be having at the end of the meal was Berta’s bestseller. Since the theme of the evening was Piedmont cuisine 42 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013

and wines, the grappa married perfectly with this event. He explained that an aged grappa like Elisi was not, as some people thought, rocket fuel but very much like a fine Armagnac or a Cognac. Mario Schembri Chef of Ta’ Frenc Restaurant said it was a real honour to work side by side of Chef Maurilio Garola, an owner of La Ciau del Tornavento, in Treiso, Piemonte: “It was truly nice working with Maurilio as he wants to be a friend” and described Maurilio as very down to earth. Mr Garola, has been running his restaurant – the name means the key to the returning wind – for the past 15 years and it specialises in typical food of the region, using local ingredients, given the added flair of this creative expert master chef. He brought ingredients from Piemonte with him to further enhance the flavours of what should be an outstanding night out. He said he too enjoyed working with Mr Schembri and the Ta’ Frenc kitchen brigade tremendously. “The menu came out as we expected and all guests were satisfied.” While he enjoyed the experience, Maurilio noted: “The more you go down south in the Mediterranean, the warmer the inhabitants are in their welcome. They make visitors feel like they are with family.” The starter, salad with tuna steak, raw meat, shrimps in a batter and nuts from Piemonte, served in a cornet,


was accompanied by the Pietro Chiarlo Bollicine. A Rovereto Gavi di Gavi accompanied the next course: eggs cooked with precious black truffles and served in individual chests. Made with Cortese grapes, this Gavi di Gavi is ample, complex, elegant, persistent and mineral on the nose with hints of grapefruit, white flowers and aniseed. It has a dry, balanced, fragrant, silky taste and good length. A signature dish of Maurilio is stuffed ravioli in butter and thyme served on a bed of hay. This was served with Le Orme Barbera d’Asti. Also a single varietal, this ruby red wine matures for eight months in large 50 hl vats and then for at least four months in its bottle. It has an elegant smell with good intensity and hints of red fruit and cherries. It has a well structured, savoury, inviting taste of mature fruit. Two courses, a risotto with quail and Parmesan cheese and the main course, braised veal cheeks al Barolo with polenta that is stone crushed and seasonal vegetables, were accompanied by a Barolo Cerequio Michele Chiarlo. This Nebbiolo wine is made with the best selection of grands cru of the region. It is matured in 700-litre tonneaux for two years and then spends a further 15-16 months in its bottle. An ample wine that envelopes the nose, it has a clear personality, a splendid concert of sensations including mature blackcurrant, apricot and cherry, mint, gentian roots and spices. This is confirmed with a full bodied taste enriched with fine tannins that surprisingly and delicately caress the tongue. A Nivole Moscato d’Asti Chiarlo accompanied the dessert, a combination of five traditional desserts from Piemonte including fruit and sorbet. This sweet wine has intense, aromatic, fruity flavours with sensations of sage, peach, grapefruit and meringue. The taste is delicate, light and intense, balanced with excellent, refreshing acidity.

Piedmont cuisine, wines and grappa themed night at Ta’ Frenc Restaurant. Michelin star chef Maurilio Garola teams up with head chef, Mario Schembri, Winery Michele Chiarlo and Distillierie Berta to create an outstanding event.

The coffee and petit fours were served with the amber Elisi grappa, a blend of three varietals, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Cabernet, which are aged separately for a minimum of five years. Distillerie Berta issued two abraham’sbottles specially for last Saturday’s event three-litre with the inscription of the event and the date. Mr Keningb eck (original)



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COUNTRY TERRACE Dine indoors or out on the terrace and enjoy the magnificent views of Mgarr Harbour and Malta. We specialise in local and Italian cuisine, offering you the chance to indulge in a large variety of fresh fish, lamb, rabbit, game and more. We guarantee that our menu is substantial enough to tickle everyone’s taste buds. We can also cater for large parties, weddings and outside catering. Country Terrace, Zewwieqa Street, Mgarr, Gozo. t: 2155 0248 | m: 9944 6833 e: | w:

DOLPHIN POOLS LTD Now is the time to plan on investing in a better and more enjoyable lifestyle for all the family, whilst enhancing and adding value to your property. Dolphin Pools, our Island's leading swimming pool company, can offer professional guidance, advice and assistance in making your dream come true. Whether you want to install a garden pool, indoor or rooftop pool, which are increasing in popularity, we are there to help you make the right choice at a surprisingly affordable price. Dolphin Pools – for all your pool, spas and sauna requirements, Dolphin Pools Gozo. t: 2156 6990, Malta: 2123 0855 | w:

Since 1973, Il-Kartell Restaurant has become the venue where friends meet to enjoy fine food and wine. We offer an extensive Mediterranean and Gozitan menu at a reasonable price.


T: 2155 6918 | M: 7900 1965 e: | w:



of the latest Let's Gozo competitions

Ramla Il-Hamra 2013 Winners: Jan/Feb/Mar: Christmas in Gozo by Josette Baldacchino

2012 Winners: May/June: Rainy Day in Gozo by Joe Zammit,

Spring in Gozo by Christine Farrugia July/August: Beach Life by Mikaela Galea September/October: Festa Time by Victor B. Caruana November/December: Autumn in Gozo by Joseph Zammit

Following on from our successful competitions in past issues, this edition it’s time for you to put your mark on Let’s Gozo, with your photographs. This issue's theme is the VILLAGE FESTA, so join in and start snapping! Prizes are also up for grabs for the winners, including Gozo wine, restaurant vouchers and over-night stays. Visit for details, or submit your outdoorfocused pictures to Kindly include details about where your picture was taken, and submit by the deadline 01 JULY 2013. Please note that only pictures related to the theme will be considered. We will be uploading the winning pictures to


by Spiro Pizzuto



All aboard our next issue as we celebrate life at sea – from sailing to water sports, this really is what summer on Gozo is all about. So join us, as we explore the best of what the Mediterranean has to offer. See you at sea!


01 | Gozo Spontaneous Carnival As always, revellers took to the streets of Nadur to celebrate in crazy-costumed style for Carnival.


Good Friday Procession: Characters took part in the traditional Good Friday procession.



Last Supper in Nadur: A re-enactment of the Last Supper. The event celebrated its 25th anniversary this year.


Dramatic Re-enactment: The Ghaqda Drammatika Xewkija, and Xewkija Local Council, created a re-enactment of the episode between the Last Supper and the arrest of Jesus Christ.




Lent & Easter Public Lecture: Held at Il-Hagar, Heart of Gozo, in Victoria.



Certificate Ceremony: MCAST Gozo Centre students presented with certificates.


Inauguration: Of the Taz-Zejt Chapel Restoration project in Gharb.



Fund Raising Activity : A massive figolla was made and sold at Arkadia, in aid of Puttinu Cares.


Violin Recital: By the Gaudos Duo, as part of the Gaulitana Music Festival.


08 46 Let’s Gozo April, May & June 2013



Photos: (1,4) Anthony Grech, (2) Monica Grima, (2) Josette Pace, (3) Mark Azzopardi, (7) David Apap Agius


Welcome to Victor J. Borg Enterprises



Just 3 metres from the clear blue sea right in the middle of charming little Xlendi bay

Be surrounded by tranquillity, immersed in nature and embraced by relaxation

A 300 year old farmhouse converted into a hotel, with today’s modern comforts

Xlendi, Island of Gozo, Malta

Sannat, Island of Gozo, Malta

Xaghra, Island of Gozo, Malta

T 21562951

T 22191000



T 21556486



SSSSSS h... Stunning Gozo!

Small and beautiful as it is, Gozo cannot be seen in just one day. As a place to relax, ‘hang out’ and live the good life the island is unsurpassed. After you set foot on Gozo, you’ll know why you need more than just a day to savour it’s leisurely charms. The more you enjoy your visit to Gozo, the more likely you are to return, and to recommend the island to others. If you are intrigued by this beautiful island’s ability to create ‘Gozo fanatics’ like ourselves, then plan a visit. We always stay for more than just a day. It’s the secret hideaway of all Maltese. Which is why we would prefer to leave it undiscovered by you. But it’s in our nature to share the best we have with visitors.

Let's Gozo Issue 10