“Greece, the land of the ancient fathers’ stories, of the heroes’ great achievements in an old past. You’ll see mountains and springs, pastures and plains where nymphs descend in droves and goats roam everywhere between dry rocks. And then, you’ll see lands diving from vertiginous cliffs. You will know cities and seas.”
“Mediterraneo”: A Journey Into the Land of Myth in Our Series from Greece. (Video by Valentina Contavalle)
This is how, as early as 1420, the humanist Cristoforo Buondelmonti presented this land. To speak about Greece to those who have never been there it’s hard. Art, colors, flavors, beauties. Sea and tradition, simplicity, genuine smiles all around. A place that exudes fascination.
One thing is for sure: Greece has been the land of myths and stories, an imaginary archipelago, the home of the gods. In it, a remote soul resounds, still alive and palpable.
But there’s another Greece, something different, not explored yet. It wants to appear as a secret.
An unusual Greece, far from mass itineraries and where just a few people can arrive.
We will go to the south till we arrive at our first stop, Santorini. The inhabitants call it the “island of vampires”, thought to be the legendary Atlantis, the diamond of the Aegean Sea. Before entering its little harbor, we will notice Santorini in all its shining glory: small houses that run through the ancient caldera, their whiteness broken only by the typical blue color of Mediterranean architecture.
We will witness a silent picture of immutable beauty, interrupted by the cheerful voice of its citizens. We will go up to the town of Fira, the main city, and we will walk on the road that runs along the caldera. Finally, we’ll arrive up to the town of Imerovigli, the perfect spot to enjoy a breathtaking view.
Perhaps someone will invite us to enter in their own courtyard, so don’t be surprised: shaking hands or enjoying the smiles of the elderly inhabitants of the island will be a truly touching moment. There is a contrast between what Santorini was and nowadays’ incredible modernity, an island regarded as one of the best tourist destinations in Greece, with white beaches, crystalline coves and wonderful terraces where to enjoy a coffee during a beautiful sunset. A small “crib” on the Aegean Sea.
And if we will feel a bit tired after the walk, petting a donkey, the typical island attraction, will be another of the most beautiful experiences that Santorini will offer us. At the end of this long day, while we will move away from the island, lost in the sound of the waves, we will look at the town of Oia and its famous windmills, which seem to become pink under the sunset light.
And why shouldn’t we stop on the beautiful Corfu?
We will fall in love with its simplicity and authenticity: every smile, every action, everything will show beauty. Walking among its narrow streets, among the bright colors of clothes hanging in the sun, we will live a suggestive experience. Wandering through the maze of streets of the small town, we will even have the opportunity to stop for some shopping.
We will also explore Olympia and the small town of Katakolon, totally immersed in history among ruins and temples. We will observe different details, maybe sitting under a column or sunbathing on the stands of the ancient stadium, thinking about the deeds of ancient and mighty athletes.
And when it will be time to eat, stopping for a snack on a small farm among the mountains will bring joy to our eyes and stomach. A scent of freshly baked bread will spread in the air, and, after having some olive oil and a glass of local wine, we will walk through gardens and orchards breathing in all the fresh air, perhaps even taking a glimpse of the famous Olympus Mount. The experience will be of pure pleasure, even if we will have to wait a bit for our good lunch entirely made of local products.
And how can we say no to a dance? The Sirtaki and its very popular melody – which became a landmark of this land also thanks to the 1964 movie Zorba the Greek – will be a pleasant company along our journey. The farms’ owners will probably invite you to dance, with laughter and hands beating to the rhythm.
Our journey will finish towards the busy city of Athens, the capital. We will climb to grab the best view from the Acropolis: the atmosphere of the ancient stories will be everywhere, seeming as if you could still see high priests among the Parthenon’s columns.
Getting lost around the streets of Plaka’s neighborhood, we will have the chance to enjoy a delicious Kebab or a Souvlaki – perhaps with a bit of Tzaziki on it – in one of the many small diners and cheap places; it will be an excellent opportunity to fully live the city and its inhabitants. So, we will be kidnapped by appetizing smells of Gyros on every corner of the city, while street musicians will accompany us with their melodies.
Even in Athens, we will find some pretty corners where, once again, history and Greek art peek out: maybe we will even enjoy a coffee or yoghurt, the local specialties, sitting under an ancient door of a temple.
So, are we ready to leave? From January 2019, we will explore together these enchanting places and their curiosities. Because our world is still so beautiful, and one only has to take a small luggage and go. This time, with a small glass of Ouzo in our hand. And who knows, we will end up shouting an “OPA!”, as well. It will mean that we have become a little bit Greek too.