Newlyweds Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Brad and Angie slept here! George Washington has nothing on Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie when it comes to famous boarders boosting tourism. After the couple married on August 23 at their estate Chateau Miraval in Correns, France, interest in and travel searches for the town soared by 1,161 percent, according to TripAdvisor data.
So what’s the next stop on the Brangie train? A working honeymoon on the island of Gozo in the Republic of Malta.
The newlyweds are there to film By the Sea, their first movie together since 2005’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” The eight-week shoot is expected to pump $26 million into the local economy as well as draw tourists to the low-key island.
Pitt is no stranger to Malta, having filmed both Troy and World War Z there. But Gozo, the second largest island in the archipelago and home to around 31,000 inhabitants, is a more intimate, rustic version of its larger neighbor. Tourists from Europe descend on the island every year to take advantage of its crystal clear waters and easygoing beach vibe.
So what does the island have to offer? Here’s everything you need to know about hitting Gozo — Jolie-Pitt style!
Arrive on a private yacht from Malta.
Mgarr Harbor in Gozo, Malta (Photo: Marina BW/Moment/Getty Images)
The Beneteau Gran Tourismo 49 is waiting for you. (Photo: Beneteau)
A ferry service provides transport every hour from Malta to Gozo, but if you’re traveling like a Hollywood star, it’s all about the private yacht. Nautica Yacht Charter offers a wide selection of boats that will take you back and forth as needed. Pick your favorite from the fleet, such as the Beneteau Gran Tourismo 49, which can carry 10 people, and is available to rent for $2,571 a day, including a skipper.
Forget the hotel; stay in a villa.
The family can stay at Villa ta’ Cenc. (Photo: Gozo Homes Real Estate)
The hotels on Malta, even the five-star sort, are a bit stuck in the ’70s, with few amenities to impress red-carpet types. A better option is a private country house, like the six-bedroom, eight-bathroom Villa ta’ Cenc, which comes complete with a private pool. (Bonus: the location overlooks the set of “By the Sea.”)
Go gourmet, all the way.
Noel and Sandra Vella’s restaurant (Photo: The Malta Independent)
When it comes to the food on Gozo, fish is cheap and plentiful, so if that’s what you’re after, it’s possible to get as great a meal at a beachside shack as at one of the island’s top hotels. Just one problem: Jolie has closed down one of the best fish shops around to film “By the Sea” (she’s directing it, too). Normally, Noel and Sandra Vella’s seafront restaurant at Mgarr ix-Xini Bay (the restaurant doesn’t have a proper name) would be the place to get the local catch, fried and served with great french fries and fresh salads, but that will have to wait.
The Oleander is in Xaghra with a view of this church. (Photo: Oleander Restaurant/Facebook)
Instead, there’s Oleander in Xaghra, which offers traditional seafood and meat dishes such as spaghetti with rabbit sauce or penne Gozitana, made with local sausage and cheese. Sit outside for a nice view of the church overlooking Victory Square. It features two giant clocks, one with the real time, and one with a fake time for the devil, so he shows up late. (Gozo is an incredibly religious island. Despite its small size, it has a whopping 46 churches.)
Ta’ Frenc is wonderful for date night. (Photo: Ta’ Frenc Restaurant/Facebook)
Ta’ Frenc is the island’s most upscale restaurant — perfect for a Jolie-Pitt-worthy date night. Set in a beautiful centuries-old farmhouse surrounded by country views, it offers top-quality sustainable food in the spirit of the old farmhouses. A stone gate leads to the courtyard and herb garden, where you can dine surrounded by the scent of lavender, marjoram, and lemon balm. The olive oil is sourced from its own grove of olive trees imported from Sicily, and signature dishes include baked seafood rice with lobster bisque foam, rabbit ravioli, Maltese aljotta (a fish soup), and crepes Suzette prepared at the table.
Take your activities up a notch with adventure sports.
The perfect way to sightsee (Photo: Gozo Quad Hire & Guided Tours)
Forget a regular hike or bike ride — if you’re going to vacation like a celebrity, go for adventure sports. Gozo offers plenty, both on sea and on land.
Gozo Quad Hire offers half-day and full-day quad bike tours around the island. It’s the best way to explore Gozo’s low salt pans and high hills.
The Azure Window is a great location for snorkeling. (Photo: Simon Cigoj/E+/Getty Images)
Snorkeling at the Azure Window, a natural limestone arch that is millions of years old, offers great views of sea life in the cobalt blue waters. Underwater shoes are key to navigating the rocky path that leads into the water.
Gozo also has some of the best scuba diving in the Mediterranean. A number of diving centers offer courses for kids (which could come in handy for a family like the Jolie-Pitts). Moby Dives offers absolute beginner experiences, such as the Bubblemaker, which introduces kids to the diving experience in a six-foot pool, or the Discover Scuba Diving, to try out breathing underwater. The school also offers PADI-certified courses for newbies and advanced divers alike.
Sightsee — maybe to inspire a cool new tattoo.
The Ggantija Neolithic temples in Gozo, Malta (Photo: Luis Davilla/Photodisc/Getty Images)
Gozo is also a key site for ancient history. A body art enthusiast like Jolie might find inspiration for new ink at Ggantija — it’s the site to see on the island, as it’s the world’s second oldest manmade religious structure (after the ruins of Göbekli Tepe in Turkey). The name means “giants,” for the mythical race of people associated with the structure. The megalithic temples were built during the Neolithic Age — before metal tools or even the wheel was invented — making the 20-foot-high stone structures more than 5,500 years old, even older than the pyramids.
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