While scrolling through a prominent international real estate magazine I came across a very interesting editorial pointing out the benefits of having a place in the sky. By all means the author was not referring to any wishful after-death nirvana but the benefits of a lifestyle from a sixty-fifth storey apartment within a newly launched ultra-luxury tower. Indeed the advantages to such a lifestyle may be varied and somewhat enticing in print however I was not convinced off the bat and therefore kept reading.
The article revolved around the selling point of such an apartment through the heightened awareness of all the senses. In real estate, sight or what one can view from a property, is essential therefore being so high in the sky allows one to view a changing cityscape and rainbow of manufactured lights. The normal buzzing sound of the city; construction crews, sirens, rowdy clubbers spilling out from clubs and honking horns are faint from up above. Unpleasant smells of trash and inhaled traffic exhaust are nowhere to be emitted and the heavy industrial smoke is distant from such a luxurious city address. The author rounds up her rather clever sales pitch by stating that living so far from the ground is also a benefit security wise; making the property less accessible in a country where criminal reports are spiking and home safety is such an issue; the solution once again being living so far above the day to day reality.
Closing the pages of the magazine I found myself contemplating how complicated and exhausting city life could be; asking the question; have I ever had to think of this kind of escape from reality in Gozo?
Thankfully my answer to my own question is a thoughtful no! What we experience here on Gozo, day in day out, stimulating all our senses, is an experience that people choose to escape to not build luxury towers to try to avoid. Although small in size, the island is geographically landscaped by numerous hills and valleys which offer the perfect uneven setting. Even though not within the land marked high-risers, most apartments are highly exposed on ridges and cliffs where the stunning view changes by the season - from the unspoiled enchanting winter countryside to the calm summer waters of the Mediterranean backdrop; far from the artificial city lights. Being positioned so close to the equator; our sunsets are an unsurpassed array of natural colours reflecting onto the open seas.
The beeps of the daily bread van, the yelling of the catch of the day from a nearby fish hawker, the summer fireworks celebrating the traditional village Festa and the hourly bell tones from the church steeples can be a symphony of noise of typical village life. Apart from the 15 minute schooling morning traffic which locals jokingly refer to as our version of a “traffic-jam” in central Victoria, traffic is not an issue. On such a tiny island all streets lead to the centre... and after a couple of days you will probably get to know the secondary streets that still will get you to your destination just 5 to 10 minutes before departing. The city horns and ongoing sirens are therefore movie sounds to the life in Gozo!
Heavy traffic exhaust is second to none; industrial fumes are a joke when talking about an eco-island with its tiny industrial estate, without landfills neither with its own power station. Talking about trash, this bearable nuisance is collected from behind our doors everyday at no cost. Perhaps the smell of the wild thyme in the nearby countryside, blossoms in valley groves, orchards and baking pastries in various bakeries scattered around will slightly compensate. Although Gozo is not a promised heaven on earth, crime is a very occasional topic of the day; children still play safely in their neighbourhood streets, the general feel of the island is one of innocence and carefree tolerance.
These sights, smells, sounds and even interesting quirks are what make the island of Gozo, the place I call home, beautiful in all aspects of the word. The icing on the cake is that all this can be enjoyed from a humble one-storey, street level home in any village around our stunning island!