• vimeo
  • instagram
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • linkedin

Let go in Gozo - the 'Eco Island'

Posted by Yvonne Gordon at 01:40 on Wednesday 18 December 2013

Yvonne Gordon sees sustainability in action while getting a taste of island life in Gozo

Red sand at Ramla Bay, Gozo. Photo by Yvonne Gordon.Red sand at Ramla Bay, Gozo. Photo by Yvonne Gordon.“At 5pm, people are coming to pick one kilo of olives each,” says Joseph Spiteri. He’s walking around Ta’Mena, his 25-hectare estate which has a winery, accommodation, events and farming activities that guests can get involved in.

Owner Joseph Spiteri at Ta'Mena Agriturismo in Gozo. Photo: Yvonne GordonOwner Joseph Spiteri at Ta'Mena Agriturismo in Gozo. Photo: Yvonne Gordon“They’ll weigh the olives and if there are not enough, they go back. Then they have a tasting,” he says. “Then they understand what real extra virgin olive oil is. You learn how to not get cheated.”

As well as olive picking, guests can take part in a variety of other activities, all which help them learn about nature and about Gozo. There’s fruit picking, wine tasting and wine lessons for adults; kids can see the chickens and geese, pet baby goats or learn to cook. Guests can also get involved in the grape and olive harvests.

The accommodation – a variety of self-catering farmhouses and apartments – is a ‘simple rural experience’ says Joseph. “It’s nothing special,” he says. However the eggs are free range, the honey is the real thing, it’s quiet, and you can wander through the vineyards, climb the hill or enjoy a simple lunch of bread, olives, tomatoes and peppers over a glass of wine.

This is Gozo, the sister island of Malta in the Mediterranean; it’s a little quieter, a little greener, a little slower perhaps than its next-door neighbour. It’s just 5km away from mainland Malta yet Gozitans say that life moves at a more leisurely pace, with more focus on a rural way of life and on preserving the environment.

The Ministry for Gozo has stated that it ‘will transform Gozo into an ecological island, a model of sustainable development... We want to see quality of life in Gozo improving further through education, economic development and social progress. Gozo will strive to reduce its carbon and water footprints. We want to protect the Gozitan lifestyle, the island’s environment, resources, culture and identity.' (see the PDF produced by the Ministry: Eco-Gozo).

‘will transform Gozo into an ecological 
island, a model of sustainable development’‘will transform Gozo into an ecological island, a model of sustainable development’. is aiming to become a fully sustainable island by the year 2020.

Azure Window Gozo. Photo courtesy of VisitMalta.comAzure Window Gozo. Photo courtesy of VisitMalta.comFor visitors, there is a selection of dramatic coastal scenery, quiet beaches and sleepy villages to explore. The 5,000-year-old Temples of Ggantija are the oldest free standing structures in the world, while Ramla beach is a stretch of unique red sand. The romantic citadel of Victoria was a refuge in the middle ages and the Azure Window at Dwejra is one of the islands's most photogenic spots.

On the luxury end of the scale, the five-star Hotel Ta’Cenc and Spa, which is set in 160 acres on the south-west of the island, has a comprehensive Environment Management Programme which covers everything from energy consumption and waste management to being socially responsible. The 'Little Green Handbook' in each room discreetly asks guests to cooperate – demonstrating how much water or power can be saved by small actions.

Pool at Ta'Cenc Hotel and Spa, Gozo. Photo by Yvonne GordonPool at Ta'Cenc Hotel and Spa, Gozo. Photo by Yvonne GordonHere, rooms are in bungalows and pathways between the bungalows and the three outdoor swimming pools are lined with fragrant flowers, shrubs and trees. On the land there are remains of temples, ancient cart ruts, dolmens and caves. Organic oranges, lemons, figs and prickly pears from the gardens are used in the kitchen – as are organic basil, rosemary, sage, mint and peppers plus wild organic herbs and asparagus growing on the plateau.

The pods from the hotel’s carob tree are collected and their syrup is used locally as a cough remedy. Olives from the trees are pressed into oil, and organic thyme honey is produced next to the hotel.

More information: www.visitgozo.comwww.islandofgozo.org or www.eco-gozo.com. For information on Ta’Mena wines and accommodation, see www.tamena-gozo.com. For Ta’Cenc Hotel and Spa, telephone +356 2219 1000, www.tacenc.com

Getting there: it is possible to travel all the way to Gozo overland, via Sicily (Italy) and then ferry to Malta and over to Gozo. See our journey planner Train from London to Sicily. Ferries from Sicily to Malta are operated by Virtu Ferries and Grimaldi Lines

This article was written by Yvonne Gordon


Green Travel Blog

Read our latest blog posts in the categories below or go to blog home

Our expert contributors

Follow us on twitter