Gozo is the second largest island making up the Maltese archipelago and is as rich in its history as its sister island Malta. Despite having a population of approximately 30,000, Gozo has a lot to offer in the world of crafts, from gastronomy to clothing and decorations.
The word craft, coined around the 15th century, refers to ‘an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity and artistic skill’ (Merriam Webster). Crafts grew in popularity due to their aesthetic beauty, and creative pleasure. In time, they also served as ‘cultural’ souvenirs. The connection with our rich history is important due to the uniqueness of our place/identity.
‘Crafts make us feel rooted, give us a sense of belonging and connect us with our history. Our ancestors used to create these crafts out of necessity and now we do them....to express ourselves’ (Phyllis George, American journalist)
Gozo’s topography and the mild climate it enjoys play a fundamental role in the island’s gastronomy. Sun dried tomatoes, tomato paste, cheese, olives, grapes, capers (preserved in brine) and fennel are just some of the local produce. A popular delicacy is the Gozitan cheeslet, which is produced from sheep’s milk, dried naturally, and coated (with pepper, salt and vinegar) to prolong preservation.
Gozo, is also renowned for its citrus fruits, oranges and lemons, which are masterfully transformed into mouth-watering marmalade, jams and Limuncell (a lemon liqueur). One cannot fail to mention the abundance of pomegranates and carobs, both well known for their health benefits, along with olive oil, sea salt, wine, dried figs and prickly pears – all Gozitan produce. When visiting the picturesque island of Gozo make sure you get a taste of the delectable Gozitan ftira, which will get you salivating at just the smell of it. The Gozitan ftira is baked in a wood-fired stone oven, a tradition that goes back hundreds of years.
Foodstuffs are not the only items synonymous with Gozo crafts. Maltese lace or as more commonly referred to by the locals, Bizzilla, is another important craft for Gozo. It dates back to the 17th century, when lace was one of the main outputs of the Gozitan industry.
Other craft products found in Gozo include pottery, glassware, filigree, stone decoration, metal artifacts and leather products amongst others. One thing for sure is that Gozo’s rich crafts history will certainly leave you spoilt for choice.