The colourful heritage of Gozo seaside – Luzzu boats

August 19, 2020

The shores of Gozo are as colourful as its culture and people, courtesy of the vibrant fishing boats floating in the water. Known as Luzzu (pronounced Loot-su in Maltese); these are traditional fishing boats that are believed to have evolved from the Italian gozzo in the early 20th century. However, the luzzu dates back to the time of the ancient Phoenicians. For generations, luzzus have been painted in variegated bright colours like blue, yellow, red and green. It is said these hues correspond to the colours of the land, sea and sun.

image credit @juliamagri3

Earlier, the luzzus were equipped with oars and sails. With changing times, they have been upgraded too. Now they are motorised and work with a diesel engine. Nevertheless, the beauty and style of luzzus have remained intact and continues to mesemerise one and all.

A symbol of tradition, the luzzu is surrounded by some superstitions too. Most prominent being the signature eyes painted on the bow or stern of the boat. These eyes are believed to be the modern survival of an ancient Phoenician custom; they are referred to as the Eye of Horus or the Eye of Osiris – the Phoenicians’ God of protection from evil. It is believed to protect the fishermen from any harm while at sea.

image credit @valentina_rossetto

Only a visit to the seaside of Gozo can reveal the real beauty of luzzu in all its glory. It is indeed a stunning sight to watch the colourful luzzu boats gathered at the harbour, while the fishermen mending their nets to begin their work.

To truly admire the picturesque seaside of Gozo and relish the luzzu experience, ride in one. On a beautiful summer day, you might as well take a deep sea fishing trip. When you slowly sail through the azure water of the sea, you will feel as if the time has come to a standstill.

Luzzu boat is one of Gozo’s oldest traditions that’s still kept alive today. With this tradition being passed on from generation to generation, the charm of luzzu boats is here to stay forever. And yes, that unwavering stare of the eyes on the bow is bound to get your stare too!