Some days ago I decided on a trip to Santa Lucija, a village which is said to be probably the first human settlement in the Maltese islands. It’s not far from Ir-Rabat, but I took the bus and my plan was to walk back. The day was lovely, excellent weather for a long walk, the form was good, an inward smile that I sometimes find difficult to suppress, and which happens quite often when I’m walking on this great island, was making me light-hearted, and I had a spring in my step.
It is said that caves in the area (Il Mixta) of Santa Lucija were peopled by early settlers, this would have been around 5000-4500BC, or during the Neolithic period. At this stage people are said to have come to Gozo from Southern Sicily, according to similar pottery style found in both places. It is only after this period and around 700BC that the Phoenicians are said to have colonised Malta and Gozo. Remains of a settlement during the Punic period have also been found around this hamlet. The Punic period was followed by the Roman and Medieval times. The Romans took over from the Phoenicians in 218BC. Some sources think that Santa Lucia had a Roman settlement as shown by lots of Roman artefacts found at and around the village. After this time the Maltese islands were conquered by a whole variety of colonizers, at some stage nearly the whole population of Gozo was led into slavery or killed. Santa Lucija, like most other villages grew out of a hamlet, the hamlet was called St.Katerina at the time. It grew into a decent village with a good variety of different trades being practised, and many farms were to be found around the area too, to this day there are still many farms around this village, the land is very fertile due to natural springs. Like many of the other villages I visited on Gozo, there is a stillness about the streets, a tranquillity, only the birds I heard singing and the odd car would pass me. The little church was closed, the façade simple and small, but with a stylish bell tower. The motto of Santa Lucija is “I pour light upon my fellow citizens” and this has everything to do with St.Lucija being the saint of the visually impaired, obviously people in the past would have travelled here for help with their eyesight.
I did not walk to the caves all though I did want to go and see them, but not on my own. I saw the old mill, and the remains of It-Torri tal-Warda. Because Santa Lucija is actually a hamlet belonging to the village of Kercem, I only had to keep walking direction Victoria to arrive in Kercem and later on to find myself back in Victoria, it was a lovely walk, a couple of kilometers. From various places I could see the dome of the St.George Basilica which showed me that I was still going in the right direction, and as it was, it was there that I was heading – to sit down in the square and relax with a well deserved cup of coffee.
The It-Torri tal-Warda, this was a sort of watch tower, standing in the middle of the fields at the time it was apparently used by the landlord to oversee his field labourers and prevent thieves from stealing the produce of the land. The tower was damaged during a storm.
Top left is the remains of Il-mithna, the windmill which used to have sails to catch the wind and make it function.
The whole village is surrounded by farmed land.