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Report 2011: Gozo, Calypso’s Isle

By Eleanor from UK, Spring 2012

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Page 18 of 26: Lunzjata Valley

photo by MAW

Lunzjata Valley

This is the fertile valley separating the settlements of Fontana and Kercem, running down to the Xlendi road. There is an access road from Kercem which runs down the western side of the valley. The valley was used by the Knights for hunting.

We had seen a reference to Lunzjata Chapel and set off to find it. It is one of only two remaining chapels on the island which are partially built into the rock. The present chapel is one of the oldest on the island having been built in the 16thC on an earlier 14thC building.

We drove to Kercem and parked at the edge of the town above the valley. We walked past a lot of very large new houses. As there was no sign of the chapel, we asked a couple of old men sitting outside one of the houses if we were going the right way. They looked a bit confused but said, "yes." We followed a road which climbed up above valley past some old farm buildings with stone steps to a hay loft. This wasn’t right, so we then followed the road which dropped steeply down into valley, and through the terraced fields. We followed it nearly to the Xlendi road but with no sign of a chapel. We eventually found someone working in the fields who said it was on the other side of the valley and gave us instructions to find it.

We walked back past the car and took a road which had a no entry/no through road sign. This lead to a track which dropped down steps carved in the limestone to the head of the valley. We could have been miles from anywhere. The west side of the valley is very green with carob trees and small, beautifully tended fields growing lettuces, cabbages, beans, onions in valley bottom. Terraced fields further up the hillside are used to grow hay or cereal crops.

As we dropped down the steps we caught a glimpse of the chapel across the valley. It is a small rectangular limestone building partly built under the cliff face with a small bell cote above. We saw someone arrive and unlock the side and main doors.

We dropped down the steps, across the footbridge at the head of the valley and up the steps on the far side to a road with an archway across it. This was the road we should have taken from Fontana.

The Priest was inside the church preparing for mass. It is a delightful small chapel. It is a very simple rectangular building with cream painted walls and a barrel roof with ribs. Red Damask drapes mark the transition of nave to chancel. It has a simple mass altar covered with a cloth. Behind is the high altar with a painting of the Annunciation with a smaller painting of God the Father above. Both are surrounded by gold carved frames which were re-gilded in 2004 after a fire. There is a small painting of St Anthony on the wall above the left hand altar which is protected by a red cover. To the left is a statue of St Joseph with the Christ Child and on the right a statue of the Annunciation.

When we left there were several older villagers sitting and waiting to go into the church for the service. We walked back up steps on far side of valley to the car to the sound of the church bell.

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