Olive Oil Towns

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Zebbug is situated in the northern part of the island, about 3.5 km away from Gozo’s capital, Rabat.  Iz-Zebbug is considered to be the highest village above sea level in Gozo.  It famously derives its name from the Maltese word for olives, closely associating the town with food products and tools used to produce olive oil and the tradition of olive oil in itself.

In Arabic, Zebbug means ‘wild olives’ which differ from the cultivated variety, and must have been growing beneath the south-east ridge of the village, sheltered from the north-westerly winds.  It was from these zebbug that the hill eventually got its name; first recorded as Zebugi in a document related to the foundation of a religious charity on 1 September 1492.


Zejtun is a town in the south-east ofMaltawith its centre on a hill overlooking theharbourofMarsaxlokkand the bays ofSaint Thomasand Marsascala.  Its current population is about 12,000.  The name ‘Zejtun’ originates from the Phoenician and Semitic Arab meaning the fruit of the olive tree, though in Maltese, the word is now only used as a place name.  Interestingly, Zejtun’s motto is “frott iz-zebbug ismi” (my name is the fruit of the olive tree).

Archaeological remains of olive tree cultivation and similar activity can be found in Zejtun and its surrounding areas.


Probably the most renowned celebration that takes place in Malta celebrating the olive-picking season and olive pressing for oil is the Zejt iz-Zejtun festival, where a parade of village folk and farmers cart through the streets carrying olives for pressing.  Drummers, folk singers and dancers provide traditional music and celebration of the harvest.  Agricultural tools will be on display while Maltese ftajjar dressed in freshly pressed olive oil will be distributed for free tasting.  Olives and related products will also be on sale throughout the festival.