Oregano adds the familiar fragrance to a Greek salad, but it also provides relief for a sore throat. Olive oil is an essential component of Greek cuisine, but it is also medicinal. Honey is a sweetener that also contains more than 180 nutrients. Ancient Greek gastronomy, the ancestor of the food culture of Rome, is the source from which many features of European diet and cuisine are derived. But that’s not all. Ever since antiquity, the Greeks have not only sought to satisfy their hunger or to find enjoyment in foods. Many foods were used to prevent or treat a number of health conditions.
A plant native to Greece, the olive tree was being cultivated in the Aegean as far back as 2000 BC. The olive and its precious oil have been omnipresent components of Greek life ever since: in the diet, in religion, in mythology, in medicine, in literature and in art. Olive oil was particularly important at the palaces of Knossos, Mycenae and Nestor (Pylos). It was a key ingredient in most cooking, used in bread-making and even eaten with bread for a light meal. However, it also had important uses beyond cooking; it served as a fuel, as a cosmetic and as a medicine (60 medicinal uses are referenced in the Hippocratic Corpus). The olive tree was endowed with rich symbolism as well: it was the sacred tree of the goddess Athena, and its branches were used to make the kotinos, a crown given as a trophy to Olympic champions.
The mainstay of the Mediterranean diet to this day, olive oil is critical to good health. It is ideal for the heart and prevents blood clots. Its polyphenols reduce bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol. Its cancer-fighting and anti-aging actions derive from its valuable antioxidants (flavonoids), vitamin E, provitamin A, minerals and trace elements. It helps to regulate glucose levels in diabetes, plays a key role in central nervous system development, and also aids in the normal function of the digestive system, decreasing the possibility of ulcers and improving intestinal tract motility.
“But why Greek olive oil?” you may ask. Well, first of all, because of its unique flavor. Secondly, because more and more research is confirming that olive oil produced in Greece is higher in polyphenol content – polyphenols are the precious chemical compounds that promise to rid us of many health problems – than those produced in other parts of Europe.
Its official botanical name is in fact Salvia officinalis, which is partly derived from the Latin verb salvare, meaning “save,” and alludes to its therapeutic properties. The ancient Greeks used its fresh leaves to treat wounds and snake bites, and as a drink to enhance female fertility. As a beverage, sage-infused “Greek tea,” as the French call it, or “Greek sprout” for the Chinese, remains popular to this day, either on its own or combined with other aromatic herbs.
Sage is also associated with some less scientific benefits. In Syros, for example, they say it exorcises gossip. You will often find little bunches of it hanging outside homes. A beneficial herb, sage has anti-catarrhal properties (for asthma, bronchitis and coughs), as well as anti-fungal and anti-infective action (for flu, gingivitis and insect bites). It is an effective antispasmodic (in cases of dysmenorrhea) and healing agent. Its broader effects include stimulating the nervous system, improving memory and boosting blood circulation, while its antioxidants act against free radicals.
According to gastronomic history, modern-day trahana has evolved from a porridge-like mixture of milk and wheat eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The noted gourmet and recipe collector Apicius (1st c. AD) refers to this food substance as tractae. In Byzantium, it was popular as tragos or traganos. Until a few decades ago, when the refrigerator was still largely unknown in most Greek households, it was a practical method for using up leftover milk and was critical to a family’s survival – trahana could be stored for more than a year in a cool place.
Trahana is made with fresh cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s milk that has soured, to which wheat is added. The wheat can range from coarse to fine – Cretan xinohontros, for example, uses coarse wheat. Trahana is rich in carbohydrates and is a good source of energy. It’s also a source of fiber, which aids intestinal health. The lactobacilli in the sour milk have a beneficial effect on the digestive tract, too.
Trahana contains protein, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and calcium in a form which the body can easily absorb. It also has carotenoids, such as lutein, a powerful antioxidant that works to prevent the harmful effects of free radicals, thus helping to maintain healthy eyes, skin and heart.
Trahana can be made into a thin or thick soup, and is low in calories (100 calories/100g). In recent years, many chefs have enriched the classic trahana soup recipe with bits of meat and vegetables or fish. It can be added to savory pie fillings or used in stuffed vegetables or grape-leaf dolmades instead of rice.
According to Greek mythology, knowledge of cheese-making was gifted to humans by the gods of Olympus through Aristeas, son of Apollo. There are references to cheese products in the writings of Aristotle and in the comedies of Aristophanes, while Homer famously referred to them in the Odyssey as well, citing the production of cheese from goat’s and sheep’s milk by the one-eyed Cyclops Polyphemus who was eventually blinded by Odysseus. Could this cheese have been anthotyro? It is quite possible.
Soft, white and rind-less, anthotyro is made in most regions of Greece from whey (left over from making another type of cheese) and the addition of sheep’s or goat’s milk, or a combination of the two. Lightly salted, it combines a pleasant rich flavor with high nutritional value. It provides all of the substances that dairy products offer (protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus), but contains less fat (it is not high in cholesterol content) and is just 200 calories/100g Compare that to 470/100g calories for graviera cheese, 420/100g calories for kefalotyri, and 350 calories/100g for feta.
Anthotyro is served as a side dish with meals, used in savory pies and salads or as a spread on bread. It pairs deliciously with fresh fruit and nuts, and makes an excellent dessert when topped with honey.
These greens are a variety of wild chicory (Cichorium spinosum), and have a bitter flavor. They are a key element of Cretan cuisine. The Greek name originates from an old habit the Cretans had of placing these greens over the mouth of the water jars to keep bugs out of the water. The Stamnagathi plant is a source of dietary fiber, antioxidants, iron, calcium, potassium and vitamins A, C and E, and beta-carotene. It is an excellent tonic and diuretic; it helps to detoxify the liver and has slightly cathartic properties. The ancient Greeks considered it medicinal. The greens can eaten raw with a lemon or vinegar and olive oil dressing, boiled on their own, or cooked together with lamb or goat. They can also be pickled after parboiling.
The ancient name for rusks was dipyritis artos, meaning “twice-baked bread.” Rusks have been a staple of the Greek diet since before refrigeration or preservatives, when a way of keeping bread for as long as possible was needed. Rusks, particularly those made with barley (which thrives better in the Greek climate than wheat), are considered a key ingredient of a healthy and balanced diet.
They are a good source of vitamin B complex, selenium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, silicon (which helps to rebuild and protect bones), chromium (for better control of glucose levels in diabetes) and dietary fiber (especially beta-glucan, linked to lower cholesterol). They also aid in better intestinal and liver function and help reduce cellulitis. It should also be noted that barley contains less gluten than wheat.
So, why not try replacing your breakfast toast with barley rusks? Alternatively, you can also replace commercial breakfast cereals, which contain a high level of hidden sugars, with boiled barley, honey and cold milk. And remember that, because their low moisture content eliminates the risk of microbial spoilage, rusks do not contain preservatives, either.
The ancient Greeks considered figs a luxury, with a quantifiable economic value that lent prestige to those who could consume them. But they were also a special delicacy. There was a word – sykoskopos – that referred to someone who brought news of where syka (figs) were to be found; there was also the term sykofantis, used for the person who revealed their illegal trafficking. It was not uncommon in Attic comedies to see the impoverished protagonists dreaming of buying wine and dried figs as soon as they could find a little money. In classical times, figs were eaten fresh as an appetizer, and were usually salted. In dried form, they accompanied the wine served at symposia. The leaves of the fig tree were soaked in brine to remove the bitterness and were then used to prepare foods similar to modern-day dolmades.
The nutritional value of figs, particularly dried ones, is indisputable. Rich in natural fiber (which stimulates intestinal motility), they help in weight control because they enhance the feeling of satiety. They are one of the best sources of potassium, which regulates blood pressure and boosts ligament health: just half a cup provides 300mg. They also contain magnesium, which is important for the function of the nervous system, for metabolism and for bone health. Surprisingly, they contain more calcium than milk does. You can add chopped dried figs to milk or yogurt along with your favorite breakfast cereal, eat them together with white cheeses, or try them on their own as a snack.
The history of apiculture, or beekeeping, in Greece goes back thousands of years. Excavations at Phaistos uncovered ceramic beehives from the Minoan era (3400 BC). Hippocrates, the father of medicine, recommended honey to all his patients. Honey, eaten with bread, was the main food for Pythagoras and his followers. Frequently, the libations to the gods included honey with wine and milk, while ambrosia, the food of the immortals, was said to contain royal jelly. In classical times, desserts with honey were very popular, including honey pies called melitoutta to plakountes, which also had sesame seeds and spices.
With more than 180 nutrients, honey is a food of high nutritional value. It is an excellent source of carbohydrates, antioxidants, vitamin B complex, trace elements and minerals (calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper) essential for keeping the body in balance and contributing to everything from bone strength to metabolism. It has a lower glycemic index than sugar. In other words, in small quantities, it is even suitable for people with diabetes. The great biodiversity of the Greek land – 1,300 endemic plants and an exceptional variety of flowers, herbs and trees – also affects the quality of the honey produced in Greece: it is far superior in flavor, aroma and density than honey from other countries.
Closely tied to Christian fasting, tahini, the paste made from roasted sesame seeds, re-entered the Greeks’ diet through migrants from Asia Minor who carried with them the knowledge of how to make it and its cousin, halva, from their lost homelands. It has the delicious essence of roasted nuts and the rich flavor of its precious oil.
One spoonful of tahini, particularly whole grain, is the perfect dietary supplement. First, the fatty acids it contains are mainly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated: these are fatty acids which raise the level of good cholesterol (HDL) that protects the heart. It is rich in high-quality proteins, vitamin B complex (which regulates the synthesis of several hormones, among other things), calcium (acts against osteoporosis), iron (for physical and mental well-being), potassium, zinc (fortifies the immune system), phosphorus, magnesium (relieves stress and migraines), manganese and copper (reduces joint pain). It also contains selenium, which is one of the weapons in the body’s defensive arsenal against oxidative stress.
Tahini is the ideal topping for breakfast (try bread with tahini and honey). It goes well with sweet flavors (honey or chocolate), with tangy lemon and with garlic, pepper, pulses and salads (it makes a great dressing). It can also be used in soups, pies, cookies and hummus.
In the days when there was no sugar, or it was hard to come by, homemakers made full use of everything the Greek soil gave them to expand their cooking repertoire. This is how moustalevria was born. The exact date of that birth is not known. We do know it is a dessert that dates back to antiquity; during the Byzantine period, it was called moustopita and was made with flour and boiled grape must. That is more or less the recipe that survives today, though it is now embellished with nuts and cinnamon.
Moustalevria is a highly nutritious food, thanks to the raw material – grape must – which provides a large quantity of antioxidants. With the addition of walnuts, almonds, cinnamon and sesame seeds, it is enriched even further, not only in flavor but also in nutrients. Sesame seeds are rich in amino acids, minerals, trace elements and calcium. Cinnamon improves glucose levels in the blood, while walnuts and almonds provide valuable omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and phytosterols. What’s more, all this comes with zero fat.
Yogurt has always held a special place on the Greek table, although it is in fact widely consumed throughout the southeastern Mediterranean. The ancient Greeks called it oxygala, and they had a particular liking for it. French explorer Pierre Belon (1517-1564) wrote, “The Greeks and Turks have oxygala, a type of sour milk which they carry in fabric bags hanging off the side of their animals. Though it is quite watery, it stays in the bag without spilling.” There’s been a lot of milk under the bridge since then. Nowadays, as the food industry endeavors to offer products with long shelf lives, most yogurt is processed at temperatures high enough to prevent the growth of unwanted microorganisms. However, this means that beneficial live bacteria are also eliminated and yogurt loses a large part of its nutritional value.
Traditional Greek yogurt, the one with the skin on the surface, it made from cow’s or sheep’s milk and contains valuable bacteria which have a positive effect on the entire digestive tract. These bacteria include the Lactobaccilus, which research has shown to have cancer-fighting properties. In addition, yoghurt enhances digestion, provides all of the nutrients of milk (protein, carbohydrates, fats, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B complex and others), and can often be consumed by people who are lactose-intolerant. It is, indeed, an all-round superfood!
The ancient Greeks held it to be a symbol of joy: it was used to make wedding crowns. But they also knew of its therapeutic value and used it as a drink to treat poisoning, diarrhea and colic, or externally to relieve skin inflammation. Arcadia and Tenedos are famous for producing oregano. Until a few decades ago, Cretan folk medicine used oregano leaves fried in olive oil to make a poultice for back pain, and oregano oil offered relief for toothache.
Oregano grows practically everywhere in Greece. Fresh or dried, it adds beneficial properties along with its characteristic fragrance to many dishes. Rich in vitamin C, it also contains calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium, copper, boron, manganese and vitamin A. The essential oil of Greek oregano is considered the best in the world, as recent studies have shown it to have the highest content in carvacrol and thymol, both of which have powerful antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties. It has antibiotic and antiseptic properties as well. Oregano can relieve intestinal upsets and abdominal pain; it exhibits stimulatory, sudorific and anti-asthmatic effects; it is used to treat flu, colds, gingivitis and sore throat (in a gargling solution). Amazingly, oregano demonstrates 42 times greater antioxidant action than apples, 30 times greater than potatoes and 12 times greater than oranges.
…or saffron, is probably the result of efforts to tame the wild Crocus cartwrightianus in ancient Greece, as the plant appears frequently in Crete’s Minoan-era frescoes and pottery, as well as in a fresco from the prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri in Santorini depicting a woman collecting the flowers. Saffron was widely used in medicine – the ancient Greeks drank it in a tisane to cure sleeplessness and hangovers. Today, Kozani’s saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world (it takes more than 150,000 flowers to produce one kilogram of the stuff) and is very sought-after for its subtle aroma and flavor, its properties as a coloring agent and its health benefits. Saffron contains vitamins A, C and B complex, as well as iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and lycopene, which is known to help prevent cancer. It also has powerful antioxidant and anti-aging properties, as its carotenoids protect cells from free radicals. It is good for the digestive tract, boosts the metabolism and improves memory and overall brain function. In addition, it helps fight anxiety and acts as a mood elevator. A mere pinch is enough to give food a rich yellow color, a subtle tang and plenty of aroma. It goes particularly well with rice, pasta, white meat and fish; it is used in salads and soups; and it is also used in sweets. It can be found in powder or thread form and as a tea.
Traces of stored crops and seeds found at Akrotiri indicate that a local species of vetchling, Lathyrus clymenum, was cultivated exclusively on Santorini for more than 3,500 years. Dioscorides, a famed 1st c. AD physician and botanist, distinguished the plant that provided the specific fava from its relatives in other regions. The particularities of the Santorini soil, the climatic conditions and, strangely enough, the lack of water combine to create a unique product with a velvety texture and sweet flavor. Rich in protein (20 percent) and carbohydrates (65 percent), the local fava is an excellent source of vitamin B1, iron, copper, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. Its high fiber content makes it ideal for maintaining normal levels of glucose and cholesterol in the blood, for promoting the proper function of the digestive system and for preventing cancer of the large intestine. And it’s just 85 calories/100g. The fava is served in pureed form with lemon juice, oregano and olive oil, and sometimes with chopped onion and capers or with tomatoes and olives. You might also see it in salads, made into patties or even served with seafood such as octopus or anchovies.
MASTIC FROM CHIOS
The mastic tree was particularly popular with the ancient Greeks: its shoots were pickled and considered a fine appetizer, while its “tears,” the well-known mastic resin, were chewed to clean the teeth and freshen the breath. These tears were also used to flavor wine. The aromatic resin of the lentisc plant, of the Pistacia lentiscus Chia variety, is not produced anywhere in Greece but Chios, and even there, it only grows in the south of the island.
Prescriptions based on mastic can be found in medical texts dating from late antiquity, when it was already considered beneficial. Modern-day studies have confirmed this. Its antioxidant extracts prevent the formation of atherosclerotic plaque on artery walls, thus protecting against heart problems. Its polyphenols reduce glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood. Regular use of mastic limits the formation of dental plaque. It plays a critical role in preventing and treating diseases of the digestive system. It exhibits powerful anti-inflammatory action, and acts as an analgesic, a cough suppressant, an appetite stimulant, an aphrodisiac, an astringent and a diuretic. It is an amazing multi-purpose medicine! Nowadays, mastic has many uses: as a spice in cooking, mainly for meat and fish, and for ice cream, loukoums, spoon sweets and cookies; in beverages (in mastic liqueur and ouzo, drunk as an aperitif or added to foods while simmering); and in cosmetics. Commonly seen in the form of chewing gum, the resin can be also found in a variety of other forms, including as powders and crystals, as mastic water or as an essential oil.
Kasos is located to the east of Crete and is the southernmost of the Dodecanese island cluster. At first glance, its rugged landscape makes it appear somewhat savage and hostile. But this is an island of pleasant and welcoming people that is very rewarding for those who make the effort to visit.
Located near the main port of Fri, locals in the pre-Ottoman era poured all of their considerable skills into the construction of this 2,000-year-old port. At the Church of Aghios Spyridonas, with its ornate bell tower, the owner has an important collection of family photographs that illustrate life on the island in the past century.
Take a walk from Pounta to Emboreio to enjoy the sunset or a swim at its beach, which is particularly pleasant when there is no northerly wind. Next, head for Panaghia, a pretty village with a number of well-maintained stately homes that stand out for the imposing archaic-style columns at their entrance and their beautifully carved wooden doors. The same village is home to the Church of Pera Panaghia, which hosts one of the biggest fetes on the island on August 15, a national holiday marking the Dormition of the Virgin. The six small churches located in the village also constitute a fine example of Byzantine architecture.
This landmark is best visited off-season so that you can truly appreciate the synergy between the Byzantine architecture and the stunning Aegean seascape. September 2 is an important date for this church; locals gather for a major religious festival and stay at the monastery’s dormitories overnight.
Passing Fri and Bouka as you head west, you will come across a small church dedicated to Saint Constantine (Aghios Constantinos) that marks the turnoff to Ammouas beach. If you keep going for about 5k further along the road, you will reach Antiperatos beach, which consists of three small coves with excellent blue-green waters that can get a bit choppy in northerly winds. The beach at Helathros is also worth a visit, made up of massive rocks embracing a pretty bay with clear waters.
Set sail from the port and in 35-40 minutes heading west you will reach the islet of Armathia, where you can swim at one of the loveliest sandy beaches in the Mediterranean, known as Marmara (Marbles). Another amazing tour – though you will need a local guide – is along the eastern coast of the island, allowing you access to beautiful beaches that cannot be reached in any other way, such as Agali and Gialoui.
Kasos is renowned for its excellent cheeses and other dairy products. Near the entrance to the village of Aghia Marina when traveling from Antiperato, is the dairy of the Vonaparti family, the only large business on the island producing fine local cheeses and exporting all over Greece. Aghios Georgios in Hadia is about 15k further along the central road and along with Mytata, is where the people of Kasos have been producing cheeses for decades.
Nothing will make your visit to Kasos more worthwhile than attending one of the many traditional feasts that islanders are so fond of hosting, mostly to celebrate a marriage or baptism, or to mark some religious holiday or other. Local bands perform traditional tunes mainly on lyres and lutes, while songs have the narrative lilt of Cretan mandinades. There is also no shortage of theatrical flair, as the meaning of the lyrics is often illustrated with dramatic hand and facial gestures. As you sip your raki, you may find that you’ve lost track of time and the sun has already started to come up, but don’t worry, these are experiences you’re sure to remember for many years to come.
There is always something new to discover in a country like Italy — even for Italians. Thanks to a special person, I had the chance to visit Bologna and fell in love with it at once. Emilia Romagna’s main urban center is one of the most beautiful and ancient cities in the country, and a treasure trove of artistic riches. And that’s not all: Bologna’s food is delicious, there are a lot of secrets to discover and plenty of other things to do. Of course, there are also numerous sights to visit, but since the weekend only lasts a few hours, we picked the best ones according to G&I Custom Luxury Travel.
Book your trip with G&I Custom Luxury Travel, we are here with a list of activities for you!
Ristorantino Il Tinello (Via Dè Giudei, 1c)
You can’t be thinking of leaving town without trying tortellini, right? In this little place, just a few steps away from the Due Torri, the two towers that are a landmark of the city, you will eat the best tortellini in brodo (tortellini in a broth) in town. The place isn’t very touristy, but still, it is very small so we really recommend that you book. And if you really don’t like tortellini, don’t worry: tagliatelle al ragu — also known as bolognese to foreigners — are the wonderful fallback option here.
Trattoria Del Rosso (Via Augusto Righi, 30)
In case you hadn’t realized yet, we really are giving you insider tips today. This is a trattoria that is part of the city’s history and a point of reference for locals. Their fresh pasta is rigorously handmade by the women working here. From pappardelle to lasagne, everything has the genuine taste of bygone times. I tried their spezzatino di manzo (beef stew)… And I still remember its delicious taste!
Vasinikò (Via Santo Stefano, 40)
Trust us: the best pizza in town is here… And their primi are great, too. This is a rather new place that opened recently, and it is managed by a bunch of young, friendly guys from Naples. It is big and has a lot of tables, and to honor the restaurant’s name, which means basil in the Neapolitan dialect, basil green is everywhere in the decor. We couldn’t help suggesting a pizza place: this is Italy after all!
WHAT TO SEE
Basilica di San Petronio (Piazza Galvani, 5)
This church is the biggest in town and one of the largest in Italy, too. Its unusual facade will already entice you and make you want to explore the church — which is great! Inside, on top of lots of famous paintings and a statue by Michelangelo, there is a work of art that will leave you awestruck: the famous painting that shows Prophet Mohammed in hell — an artistic masterpiece that has caused lots of controversy over the years.
Torre degli Asinelli (Piazza di Porta Ravegnana)
Looking for the best view in town? Then you should head to the top of this tower, the most famous symbol of Bologna. Don’t worry about the fact that it is leaning, it is solid enough to hold your weight while you make your way up the 498 stairs. Take a deep breath, climb up and get ready for a beautiful view.
Finestrella di Via Piella (Window of via Piella)
Guys, this is a true gem, one of those secret tips we love to discover and share with you. At first sight, this alley will look pretty boring — but you will discover very soon why locals love it. The window of Via Piella facing the Moline Canal, that winds through the buildings of the city, is a very unusual site, and absolutely deserves a visit. It looks like a corner of Venice in another location. Canals were very important for the city in medieval times, and some of them were used as waterways. The Moline Canal, specifically, was used to produce the energy necessary to power the 15 water mills of the town — as the name says, since “Moline” means “mill” in Italian.
Complesso delle Sette Chiese (Via Santo Stefano)
This might be a bit of an obvious tip, but this cluster of seven churches in one complex is a must-visit, especially since you can access it for free. You will visit beautiful medieval courtyards, crypts and cathedrals — it’s hard to explain. Just go see for yourself, it’s wonderful and moving.
Everyone knows Bologna is the city where you can stroll underneath arched colonnades: these arches are in the city center, they’re in the outskirts and even on the way to San Luca sanctuary: and this specific sanctuary is a special one, because the way up to it is the longest colonnade in the world! It’s a wonderful way to get a break from the heat in summertime, and in winter, it’s very nice for a little hike. Start training, so it will be easier for you to walk up under the colonnade — the walk is 4km long. San Luca Sanctuary and a beautiful view on the city will be awaiting you on top.
Mercato della Piazzola (Piazza dell Otto Agosto)
Last but not least, a shopping tip for those who will be here at the weekend, this place couldn’t be missing from our list and it is one of the biggest markets of the region — only open on Friday and Saturday. People from faraway areas of Italy come look for all sorts of stuff in the 400 stalls of this market, whose products range from regular clothing to vintage clothes, or flower-print shoes. The good thing is, you can find all sorts of stuff here starting from just 2 euro!
Fall is here, temperatures have dropped, and here we are, reaching for our books again! But it’s not time to lock yourself up at home, yet: the last days of sunshine are still making us want to go out and enjoy the beauty of Milan. Our solution to the cooler temperatures is, why not go have a coffee while surrounded by books, in one of the (luckily) numerous bookstore-cafes in town? Here are 5 cafes we particularly love. You pick which one you want to test first 🙂
(Corso di Porta Ticinese 40)
This brand-new bookshops hasn’t even been open for a year, and it is just a few steps from popular spot Colonne di San Lorenzo. It has two floors: downstairs is the bar, while upstairs you will find a few tables to study and work, with open wi-fi. You will be surrounded by a selection of books from independent publishing houses, as well as a few bestsellers.
(Viale Monte Nero 6)
This place’s tag line is, more than books — and we find that is an excellent starting point, don’t you agree?? Large wooden tables and colorful chairs are awaiting you in this wonderful location near Porta Romana. You can have more than just coffee or a hot beverage when it gets cold: you can also stop by for breakfast, lunch or happy hour, which is always a good way to be pleasantly surprised by their several new ideas of food and beverage. Our tip: go for aperitif and order a Spritz: you will be offered 8 different options, including an organic one with pomegranate! Furthermore, from 7pm on, it is also happy hour for books, with a 15% discount on every purchase!
Libreria del Mondo Offeso
(Piazza San Simpliciano 7)
Originally a small independent bookshop, it shed its skin and embraced modernity by changing location, moving to one of the most character-filled squares of the city center, and opening a small bar. Trust us: just walking past will make you want to go inside, and spend the whole day reading! Breakfast, with bread and jam, and aperitif, with a glass of wine are the best moments to enjoy this space, which has a bit of Parisian flair to it.
Gogol & Company
( Via Savona 101)
A vintage touch and an unexpected calm atmosphere make this one of our favorite spots in town. Some people go there to discover new books and new publishers — this bookshop is very intent upon promoting new writers — and some just go to impress someone on their first date. Try a dish from their menu, or maybe a cold pressed juice. You’ll see: reading has never been this pleasant.
(Via Sant’Agnese 12)
A guarantee, both for readers looking for new books, and curious foodies. This place is perfect for lunch, thanks to the menu that ranges from panini to cakes: enjoy both, surrounded by a selection of books that includes classics from the past, as well as modern classics that it will be your pleasure to discover.
Two archaeological findings in Greece – namely the so-called Antikythera Man and a mass grave at the Phaleron (present-day Faliro) Delta, south of Athens – have been included in the “Top 10 Discoveries of 2016” by Archaeology magazine. The publication is issued by the Archaeological Institute of America.
Excavators at the Phaleron Delta necropolis – a large ancient cemetery unearthed during the construction of a national opera house and library – earlier this year found at least 80 skeletons lying in a mass grave, their wrists clamped by iron shackles. Classical archaeology has called on the help of CSI-style archaeologists from the Malcolm H. Wiener Laboratory for Archaeological Science at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens (ASCSA) to examine the graves.
“For the first time we can illustrate historical events that took place during the struggle between aristocrats in the seventh century and led, through a long process, to the establishment of a democratic regime in the city of Athens,” project director Stella Chrysoulaki told Archaeology magazine.
Meanwhile, a key discovery was made this summer at the site of the world-famous Antikythera shipwreck as an international team recovered a human skeleton. “The newly discovered remains are the first to be uncovered in almost 40 years – and during the age of DNA analysis,” the magazine said.
Discovered by sponge divers in 1900 off the Greek island of Antikythera, the site has yielded hundreds of treasures, including bronze and marble statues, as well as the Antikythera Mechanism, often referred to as the world’s oldest computer.
Other feats in the top 10 list include the precise dating of the world’s oldest woven garment found in Tarkhan, Egypt, the discovery of more than 400 Roman waxed writing tablets during excavations in London, and the use of airborne laser-scanning technology by scientists in northwestern Cambodia to survey 900 square miles of the densely forested Angkor region, revealing centuries-old cities that once belonged to the vast Khmer Empire.
It was the first time I was attending Travel Expo 2016 and the first exhibition for G&I custom luxury travel. This 3 day exhibition was based in Athens and it was an international Greek Tourism meeting -3rd Exhibition taking place. This was a huge opportunity to be able to meet with over 2000 people from over the world and build relationships with them. Excitement was an understatement!
We had the opportunity in having B2B appointments with agencies / tour operators from Europe, Balkans, Asia, Middle East, USA and Canada. The appointments were approximately 15 minutes in duration and that was enough time at first hand. If not no worries, as we had the privilege of inviting the agents to our amazing bar at our booth for after work drinks 🙂
Let me tell you more about the booth we had in the exhibition hall. The number was C54-56 (how can I forget) of which we shared with our colleagues, Luxury Concierge and Life Line, and what a booth it was! We had a great Seating area for our outside meetings to take place, a bar for coffee and drinks or even snacks. It was an amazing opportunity for G&I and we couldn’t have done it without our affiliates.
by Mairina Chrysopoulo
General Manager & Owner
Gorges, rivers, dense forests, steep slopes, natural pools, rocky peaks, such as the seemingly sculpted Astraka peak, and the so-called “Dragon Lakes” (drakolimnes) – the dwelling places of dragons, according to local legend – await the more adventurous traveler.
It’s no wonder that in ancient times the Zagori region was known as Parorea, meaning “beyond the mountains”. In the 6th century, when the Slavs arrived, it was renamed Zagori, meaning “place behind the mountain.” This is an imposing place, challenging and untamed by the demands of modern civilization.
An exception to this are the friendly, warm guesthouses and luxury hotels of central and western Zagori. Especially in the autumn, when the colors change day by day, a visit to this magical place is a must for these reasons:
The renowned Vikos Gorge in Epirus is registered in the Guinness bookof records as the deepest gorge in the world in proportion to its width, with a depth of more than 900 meters, while its narrowest opening is just 1.1 meters.
For a panoramic view, head to the small Aghia Paraskevi church, located beyond Monodendri, and walk along the cliffs with caves. Alternatively, look for the two other natural terraces by heading towards Oxia or the Beloi viewpoint in Vradeto.
Listen to the silence of Zagori from this point and enjoy the clean air and the scent of herbs. It takes roughly six hours to trek the length of the gorge, to forget all your cares, your cell phone (which won’t have a signal here anyway) and to become well aware that in Zagori life follows the rhythms of nature.
At Monodendri, one of the most touristically developed villages, visit the Rizarios School of Handicrafts and their gift shop with elaborate embroidery and weaving, have a coffee under the huge plane trees and open out your map to plan your routes. Because of the intense weather conditions and the difficult landscape, the inhabitants of Zagori realized early on the importance of cooperating among themselves to survive, and build their villages in a way so that one village was in easy sight of the other, thus maintaining visual contact.
Pano Pedina see a little of Elati, while Kapesovo which is higher sees Dikorfo, Manesi, Elati, Monodenri, Vitsa and Dilofo. This last village, with only 10 inhabitants in the winter, its cobbled streets, stone houses, a huge plane tree in the square and semi-deserted square and stray cats everywhere has an almost cinematic charm and few guesthouses for those who want to stay here. Even more impressive than the architecture of the local houses are the stone bridges of the Zagori villages, such as the triple-arched Plakida-Kalogeriko structure at the entrance to the village of Kipoi.
A winding road leads to the western Zagori, and it’s necessary to drive slowly because of the many bends but also because of the herds of sheep, cows or individual wild horses which meander across the road. You’ll know you’ve reached west Zagori once the remarkable Astraka Towers come into view. The imposing cliff towers dominate the villages on this side of the region: Aristi, Megalo Papigo and Mikro Papigo. There is a bridge which the locals call either the Papigo bridge because it was built with donations from a Papigo villager, or the Aristi bridge because it’s close to Aristi village. Whatever you call it, when you reach here follow the sound of the babbling brooks and soon you’ll find yourself on the banks of the Voidomatis river.
Bronze plane tree leaves flutter in the air this time of year with even the gentlest of breezes, painting the shores of the riverbank a coppery red. White-throated dippers and wagtails flit about, while well-tended trails await anyone who feels like trekking along the river through the forest of pine, fir, oak and beech. The same trekking groups also organize horse riding, 4X4 and paragliding adventures.
Another wonderful hiking area is Kolymbithres, 500 m from Mikro Papigo. Forget about your phone once again and lose yourself in the rich natural landscape. This is basically a small canyon cut by the river Rogovo. The flow of the water with the passage of time has carved the rocky sides of the canyon, creating a beautiful landscape. Some of the water pools are deep enough to dive into. It is said that Ali Pasha of Ioannina used to enjoy summer swims here.
The bravest, most experienced and adventurous hikers, well informed about the weather conditions, follow the trail that leads to the “dragon lakes”. Alpine newts inhabit the waters of the lake located in Tymfi at an altitude of 2,050 m in a location of exceptional beauty. It is approximately one hour from Diaselo and about five hours’ hiking from Mikro Papigo.
Even further north, with its own alpine newts (th dragons) is theDakolimni of Smolikas. The autumn and spring are the best times to visit, since in the winter, the snow and strong winds make it inaccessible.
Beyond the stunning landscape and bountiful fresh air, you’ll find cozy guesthouses with a unique atmosphere of warmth and luxury hotels with minimalist aesthetics and all modern conveniences enclosed within their thick stone walls. The food is excellent, not only the famous Epirus pies, but for everything else in outstanding restaurants such as Sta Riza in Elati, sophisticated hotel restaurants like Salvia of the Aristi Mountain Resort, themed restaurants such as Kanela kai Garyfalo in Vitsa focusing on Pindos mushroom, both farmed and wild. Sterna in Kapesovo sells delicious sweets and marmalades, local raki, liqueur wine and mountain herbs. With these, you’ll be able to keep the memories of the genuine taste of Zagori alive long after you go home.
Also consider visiting eastern Zagori, which is far less developed in a touristic sense but just as impressive.
The 5 best reasons to spend a day – or week – on Antiparos, Paros’ little sister.
Antiparos, a small, anti-mainstream island, has stood its ground as an alternative offshoot to neighboring Paros, tourism-oriented and cosmopolitan with a vibrant, fancy and high-decibel nightlife. By contrast, the mild tourism development on Antiparos has not taken away the purity of the island, a focal point for the rock-punk community since the pre-digital 80s. Those unconventional camping-ground types our parents advised us to keep away from have since grown old, lives were influenced by the considerable time spent at La Luna, the little island’s legendary outdoor club, as well as at the rock-oriented Doors club, dedicated to the late rocker Jim Morrison, while the “official nudist beach” – as defined by its frequenters – behind the camping ground, was a carefree spot. The Cycladic island’s hippy spirit has not really changed over the years. Five reasons to visit the island follow:
The island’s devotees widely believe that Antiparos is its camping facility, launched in 1978. It has carved out its own history on the island as an alternative-scene focal point and, even today, stands as the reason why many visitors choose to holiday on Antiparos. The restaurant operating at this 300-tent capacity camping facility is its pivotal spot. Groups of friends gather here to play cards and backgammon in the afternoons and enjoy their first warm-up drinks for the night. Most campsite dwellers usually don’t take off for the main town, a ten minute walk away, until well after midnight. Shots and cocktails are had at Camping Antiparos before they head to La Luna for late-night partying.
The bars at the town’s square close at around 3 to 3.30am to avoid disturbing neighbors. As a result, revelers relocate to either the late-night La Luna disco or Mylos, a dance club.
The former, an open-air, down-to-earth nightlife oasis that enjoys cult status, is said to have once been the location of a poultry enclosure. Since opening in 1979, its owner has hardly touched a thing. Any signs of wear or tear have been left unattended, which has added to the spot’s accumulating vintage charm. La Luna is located deep amid fields. The moonlight serves as a useful guiding light to locate the spot, it is said. Everybody dances a lot here. The music is dominated by old classic tunes from the 70s and 80s. Revelers know when it is time to leave when Nina Simone’s “My Baby Just Cares For Me”, the club’s signature closing-time song, comes on. Strictly order beer here.
Extremely different, Mylos plays mainstream dance music. It is housed at an old mill with a view of the sky. At daybreak, the sunrays enter from the glass roof and revelers party on donning their sunglasses. Should you lose track of your friends in the crowd, you may climb the mill’s outdoor staircase to the top and try and spot them from there. Otherwise, the climb is ideal for the breeze and sunrise experience. Without a doubt, the two clubs represent two entirely different camps. You either belong to Mylos or La Luna. There is no between.
Sifneiko beach, named as such because it looks towards Sifnos, also known as Iliovasilema, meaning sunset, is a lovely beach offering an uninterrupted sunset view. As the “golden hour” draws nearer, scores of people, especially couples, rush through the alleys to make it to the beach on time for the experience. Two laid back café-bars also operate here if you feel like treating yourself to a drink. The route to Sifneiko runs by a mid-15th century Venetian castle located within the town. It was built by Giovanni Loredano, a Venetian nobleman, to protect the island from pirate invasions. Twenty-four houses were later built in the surrounding area. Many of these are still inhabited today.
Soros beach is one of the most renowned and essential places to visit. Its Megalos beach is more cosmopolitan and offers a good beach bar. The Mikros beach, which is not organized and covered with fine pebble, offers greater privacy. From this point on, the shoreline features numerous delightful coves with turquoise waters and clean water.
Besides the beach by the island’s camping facility, part of which has been defined as “nudist” by frequenters, Faneromeni and Aghios Sostis, are the island’s other leading swimming spots. Located on the west side of the island, they are challenging to reach but well worth the effort. On the east side, Monastiria and Livadia are great spots for windsurfing and kite surfing.
One of the world’s most significant caves, located in the centre of the island, may be reached by descending 411 steps or 85 metres. Its entrance is located at the top of the Ai-Giannis Mountain, also the name of the charming small church perched on the rock. Fragments of ancient vases, as well as carvings and inscriptions on stalactites and stalagmites by a number of historic figures, have been discovered inside the cave. The descent to the cave’s bottom is safe and reached by a concrete staircase. The heart of the cave is divided into three sections. The first features stalagmites and stalactites, resembling waterfalls. The second is renowned for having hosted a Christmas Day mass in 1673, during Ottoman rule. The third section is known as Vassilikos (Royal) as a result of a visit to the cave by King Otto, the first monarch of modern Greece, and his wife, Queen Amalia. Their inscriptions still exist.
Significant findings from ancient times have been made on Despotiko, an uninhabited island west of Antiparos, as well as at two other neighboring virgin islands, Tsimintiri and Stroggylo. The oldest Cycladic settlement was discovered on Saliagos, an islet off Antiparos. However, the archaeological interest is focused on Despotiko, identified as the location of Ancient Prepesinthos, where proto-Cycladic tombs and cemeteries were discovered a century ago. Two constructions were also discovered a few decades later. One of these, a superb sanctuary dedicated to the god Apollo, is estimated to have been used from the 7th century BC until the Roman era. The people of Paros built this place of worship as they were determined to consolidate their dominance in the Aegean. Numerous parts of sculptures, six kouros heads and over 500 architectural pieces are some of the discoveries that have been made over the years, shedding intensifying light on ancient Greek history. Despotiko may be easily reached by boat from the small Ai-Giorgis port at Antiparos. Once there, do not miss out on the opportunity to swim in this little island’s superb turquoise waters, whose beaches are covered with fine golden sand.
James DeMetro is the director of the New York City Greek Film Festival. “We don’t just show Greek movies, we show Greece.” he says. Born in New York to teachers who came from Karpenisi and Samos, he learned Greek at home.
The NYC Greek Film Festival, now in its 10th year, opened this year with a screening of Tassos Boulmetis ‘Notias‘. “We started very humbly and we have reached a very good level,” says De Metro. “We try to support and help Greek filmmakers to promote their films in the American market.”
“There is great interest from the Greeks, but not just from them.” noted DeMetro. The NYC Greek Film Festival is supported by the Organization of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, and among the main sponsors is the Onassis Foundation. “When we first started, the budget was $17,000. Now it’s $123,000. We choose the best venues and pay about $6,000 a night for two screenings.”
Film venues include the Chelsea Cinema, The Director’s Guild Theater, the NYIT Auditorium, the Museum of the Moving Image and the Bow Tie Manhasset Cinema.
Between now and October 19, a carefully selected range of contemporary Greek productions will be presented to the audience. “Our selection aims to cover the entire range from the artistic to the more commercial, to offerdifferent aspects of life in Greece so as to expand our audience every year.” explains the director.
In all, 15 features and seven documentaries will be shown: the psychological drama, Silent; the suspense thriller, Blind Sun; a drama from Cyprus about a family struggling to make ends meet, Family Member; Journey Through Smyrna, a documentary about the music of Asia Minor; and a story about middle-aged obsession and young beauty, Suntan.
For the full schedule, venues and tickets, visithttp://nycgreekfilmfestival.com/
*originally published in GreeceIs
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