Kea, the Greek Cycladic His name is Kea, but the Greeks call her Aunt, without pronouncing the “t”, as if it were a relative of theirs. It is one of the largest islands of the Cyclades: just one hour from Athens, but still little known
He was nicknamed Kalofagas, “the man who knows how to eat.” And there are those who call him Nero, because it is always in front of the fire to fry the pork souvlaki and lamb that serves in his restaurant in Ioulida, the Chora. Neat tables, overlooking the Aegean, children playing, some cat dozing, geraniums at will, a tourist who does not understand the menu.
We are in Greece, Kea, one of the largest islands of the Cyclades. For its inhabitants is Tzia and how they pronounce the name, it seems that say “aunt.” If you’ve never heard of it, if not for the similarity with the Swedish manufacturer of furniture (but without the “i”), you are among the many who, while knowing Greece (Italians are sixth in the world rankings as presence Tourism, according to the Association Of Greek Tourism Enterprises), have the feeling that the “aunt” has been locked in a room for a while ‘. Perhaps to look good, because it is really beautiful. And it is also nearby, which avoids the headaches – that those traveling in Greece knows – to match the landing with the ferry, overnight with the lift at dawn to Piraeus. Because the steps are very simple: once in Eleftherios Venizelos, the hub of Athens, you go to the port of Lavrio, 40km and just under an hour’s drive farther (the time it takes to reach Syntagma , Parliament Square in the capital). And after an hour’s ferry Here we are in Kea, an island almost eerily still unknown, if you think that you pass to go to Patmos and that is only a few nautical miles from Serifos. Nearest even Spetses and Hydra, classic goals from the weekend to the Athenians well and that counts among its guests always the real Greece.
But the “aunt” is different, understate, although there Gialiskari airstrip for helicopters: just six minutes of flight to drink a gin and tonic in Kolonaki, the most sophisticated neighborhood of Athens, as do daily the few millionaires Greeks, the only “presence” tangible luxury here.
Although this can not breathe the crisis as it happens in the other islands, but it can happen to meet people who have had to adapt to a new lifestyle, as Vagia Goula, a former television journalist who now accompanies us in new clothes driving tourist. One wonders if this will end up as in Argentina after the great crisis of the late nineties, when taxi drivers in incappavi-philosophers or even former executives.
Until now, if the Kea has always done well, because, historically, has always been an island self-sufficient with its own currency and economy based on the cultivation of cereals, honey production and sheep farming. An island that has had to turn into a strength the poor accessibility, given the difficulty of crossing the canal waters raging wind Meltemi, the same who gave apologies to Ulysses to delay his return to Penelope.
Today Kea is the hidden paradise for those who prefer the tranquility of beaches and crystal clear waters of the unforgettable name as Orkos, or Kampi or Pisses Bay where, not surprisingly, the group Aman Resorts will open a new luxury hotel. A necessary step is Karthea, to Poles Bay, where, for a few years and with many efforts of local investors and the Ministry of Culture, has been unearthed an archaeological site dating back to 500 years before Christ, with the greek theater and the columns. Bello: swim, resurface the blue, see the capitals of antiquity and now you imagine people in robes. A tip: here there is not even a tavern, you have to bring a packed lunch and plenty of water.
The Chora is as were the ancient city, the agora, the central square clean and presentable, the cascades of bougainvillea, the architecture marked by the passage of the Venetians, the Turks and the Russians and, in addition, a high school designed by Heinrich Schliemann , archaeologist and discoverer of Troy. Other examples of elegance are the villas like Lefkothea, near the town hall, built in the late nineteenth century. Around, do not expect immaculate buildings of the most famous islands such as Paros and Santorini, but the scent of jasmine, apricots and tomatoes of the small shops.
Vourkari, sea, seems a tiny St. Tropez. The tavern’s busiest (and good, look on p. 140) is Aristos, with the blue tables. The owner was quick to pour generous glasses of raki, the local brandy, but this is also one of the few places where you will find the water Mastika, carbonated and flavored with herbs beneficial rubber tree of Ios, which goes rage. Boutiques nearby Emmanouela, the fashion guru of the island, offers designers and design zero km: as you look among the white clothes of sangallo you would now also present at fashion shows of Greek ladies coming in and out from the dressing tunics perfect for a comedy light Antiphanes. At sunset, we meet at the Blue Bay, just off Vourkari, drinking an aperitif. And on the beach of Gialiskari, maybe, there is an ongoing party for a baptism, as it happened to us. Lounge music, beautiful people, children playing in party dresses, some parents slick, two or three guests âgé vaguely uncomfortable in that universe of white beds and ice buckets. Or you go to Porto Kea Suites in Korissia, where they serve at the pool bar with the best Mojito and alcohol-free smoothies and discuss about what is the most beautiful island. It is a national sport for the Greeks and for us Italians talk about food and recipes. No doubt, the “aunt” is a pearl of the Aegean.