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The Lunzjata Valley

28 Apr

I found mention of the Lunzjata Valley in a short, three-sentence description buried in Trip Advisor. All the item said was that the valley was on Gozo, “abundant and serene” with the sound of fresh springs flowing into the gardens. After extensive research I found a clue that the entrance to the Valley was near the Chapel of the Annunciation outside of Victoria, Gozo. With just that,  the name of the valley and an idea of the chapel’s location, we hiked out of Victoria in search of the abundant garden.

And we found it! We took a sharp left turn down a steep, narrow road and there was a sign and the entrance.

We walked through the stone archway to face the austere Chapel of the Annunciation built into the rock of the valley wall.  People worshipped in a natural cave above the valley until 1347. In 1629 the exiting chapel was built

And there next to and below that chapel, laid out before us was the Lunzjata Valley.

The valley is created by a natural system of freshwater springs that foster a unique haven for lush, year-round vegetation. Vegetable gardens line the valley floor where olive, almond, pomegranate and carob trees grow. Small canals lined by reeds run through the greenscape and provide moisture for the fields lining their banks.

Water has always been scarce on the Malteze islands. This was one reason why the valley was so hard to find. It is closely guarded and managed with care. Some springs are redirected into systems of acequias to serve local cultivation.

As we walked the elevated track along the valley wall, springs seeped out of the vegetation here and there. Dana found a clear freshwater cistern used to gather run-off from the slopes. Trickling water and birdsong were the only sounds among the trees and garden beds.

There were four stone houses that we could see on the edges of the valley. No one was about. But we did hear a gate clang shut behind us as we walked down toward the gardens.

Walking back along the track it settled on us that this would be our last outing in Malta as we are going home on Sunday, an auspicious way to end our time in these islands.