Salmon and green domes roofing
the houses. Embroidered curtains fluttering in their windows. Cactuses
peering over the walls and the shadow of a palm tree playing on the
ochre-tinted walls of the Panagia Matrona. Once you have passed through
the dark stone gateway (yes, the village has a main gate), there spread
before you is a brightly coloured scene reminiscent of Morocco. Finikia is
a small, well-preserved rock village just outside la which, when la was a
prosperous shipping town, housed the farmers who cultivated the plain.
Back then, it was almost an insult, in fact, to be called a "Finikian".
Today's villagers still work their fields on the plain, but they also
include wine-makers and people in the tourist business; in addition, a
number of architects who appreciate the style and sim-plicity of the place
have bought houses here. The few small hotels and rooming houses are
clustered around the main road.
You pass through Vourvoulos on
your way to or from the beaches north of la. The village is not
particularly interesting from the architectural point of view, nor does it
have any special features or sights. The road that comes down from
Imerovigli (there is also a way up from la) is paved with stone and quite
steep, - a car can travel through -but the view is well worth the trouble.
Vourvoulos is not on the tourist map, and you will probably not see
anyone but the local farmers who actually live there and the few
foreigners who have built houses in the village.
The single hotel
and few rooms to let will attract those who want real isolation and easy
access to the beaches north of la.
The classic example of a rock
village. As the coastal villagers did with the Caldera, so the people of
the interior dug their houses into rocky walls of a ravine five kilometres
long. The soft volcanic soil was easy to work, and proved to be an
excellent building material. Indeed, the domed roofs they cast and then
sealed with a mortar of lime and volcanic rock can stand alone, without
requiring a support structure of rafters. A stroll down the main street of
the village (which is simply the bed of the ravine) leaves you in awe of
the wisdom and ingenuity of those village craftsmen, who knew how to build
strong houses with the cheapest of materials and how to exploit the depth
of the gully to pro-tect them from the winds. Architecturally, this is the
strangest village on the island, and is worth a visit just for that
Your first impression of
Monolithos is domi-nated by the solitary rocky outcrop, which gives this
coast its name, and the soaring smokestack of the tomato paste plant (the
only one still in operation on the island). With its broad beach of fine
black sand and seemingly endless shallows, Monolithos has inevitably
developed into a family resort. Small children can splash happily in the
shallow water and play with their buckets and spades in the sand. When
they're tired, the hotel is right there, and so are the taver-nas.
Monolithos is organised around these three focal points: hotel, beach,
Karterados is just a
small inland village, with children playing in the cobbled streets and a
few hotels and rooms to let for those who are looking for cheaper
accommodation within easy distance of Fira. The older part of the village
is all but invisible from the main street. The rock houses have been dug
out of the bed of a torrent, and their roofs are on a level with the
pavement. The main road is all hotels, shops and tavernas.
Thirassia is pure Aegean
village. From the moment you dock at Riva and the "taxi" arrives to take
you up the hill, you'd swear the clock had rolled back thirty years. Long
before the Caldera is lost to view, the landscape has become wild -
burning sun, cactus, shrubs, tomato plants -and total wilderness. The air
is filled with the scent of the wild herbs that grow in profusion
everywhere. Before long, you catch sight of Potamos, the smaller of the
island's two vil-lages. Tinted bell towers and brightly coloured houses:
yellow, blue, turquoise, pink and green - you might almost think you were
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