The Village of Fontana in Gozo
Fontana, with its population of almost 1,000 inhabitants, originally grew as a suburb of Victoria, or Rabat, the capital city of Gozo. It was officially established as a Parish in March 1911 under Bishop Giovanni Maria Camilleri, and its parish is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The village feast is celebrated each year on the second or third Sunday of June.
Fontana rises along the hillside which from the south of the town of Victoria slopes down in the direction of Wied Siekel, that is, Siekel Valley, on the eastern side, and Wied il-Lunzjata, Lunzjata Valley, on the western side. This village takes its name from the many springs which used to be its main feature, in fact, the word ‘fontana’ in Italian, means ‘spring’.
It is well known for the Big Spring, which is called ‘L-Għajn l-Kbira’ in Maltese, and which passes through the heart of this village. Besides the Big Spring, there were three other springs in Fontana, known as il-Għajn tal-Wied (the Spring of the Valley), il-Għajn tal-Loġoġ (the Spring of the Arcades), and il-Għajn tal-Bhejjem (the Spring of the Cattle). These springs no longer exist today. Another spring, known as il-Għajn ta’ Bendu (Bendu’s Spring) can still be found opposite the Big Spring.
The Big Spring is one of many springs one can find in Gozo. The water flows through this spring all year round, and it is fresh and natural. The arches of the Big Spring were already in existence in the sixteenth century, as evidenced by a notarial deed dated June 1567. For centuries these old arches provided shelter for many people who used this spring to wash their clothes. The Big Spring is situated in Triq tal-Għajn – Spring Street. The existing building of the Big Spring was raised in 1685 by Gasparre Azzopardi. This building contains three coats of arms all next to each other. One represents the Azzopardi family, the second one belongs to Grand Master Gregorio Caraffa (1680 – 1690), while the third one pertains to the Universita’ that paid for the expenses of the building.
On the lower part of Fontana, on the right-hand side of the road to Xlendi, one cannot help but notice the evergreen Lunzjata Valley going up to the village of Kerċem. This valley is amazingly lush and picturesque, and I never tire of visiting there each time I go to Gozo. In the past, the Order of the Knights of Saint John used this valley as a hunting ground, however today it is a very important farming community. Its peaceful atmosphere and colourful foliage, not to mention the continuous sound of running water coming from the spring and aqueducts, make it a perfect place for anyone wanting to enjoy a quite walk. A very old and traditional chapel dedicated to the Annunciation of Our Lady is found at the entrance of Lunzjata.
Lunzjata Valley can be reached from the road that winds its way to Kerċem from the town of Rabat.
Strangely enough, the people of Fontana can be referred to as il-Fontanin but the word is hardly ever used.