Winemaking talent erupts under Mount Etna

Thirty years ago there were just five wine producers in the shadow of Mt Etna. Now dozens work this challenging terrain. 


The noise of a volcano erupting in the distance, even if it’s only a small eruption, sounds like the rumble of a dinosaur’s stomach crossed with an aeroplane. It cracks and groans, thunders and moans. I know this because Etna was at it when I was there earlier this year. I stood in a field full of ancient, knotted vines and wild flowers and watched plumes of grey smoke form a cloud around the summit. The agronomist with me shrugged and then – “This is a bit more than usual” – sent a quick checking text and I thought that in all of Sicily, this is one place you would only choose to make wine if you didn’t mind having your work cut out.
For serious winemakers, though, the slopes of one of the world’s most active volcanoes have become the place to be. The draw is simple: old vines and a terroir that gives wines with what you might call X-factor – some of the frisson, the spark and a certain transparency, where the grape recedes and seems to show the land, that you find in Burgundy.
The winemaker Salvo Foti says that when he began working on Etna some 30 years ago there were just five producers. Now there are more like 85 to 90: a renaissance. “Etna doesn’t change. The perception of it has changed. A few decades ago, when Sicilian wine first started to interest people, most of the production was in western Sicily. People planted merlot, cabernet, non-Italian varieties. In Etna it’s different because we have old vineyards and old vines. And production is difficult…”
No kidding. The challenge isn’t just the long-term threat of destruction from lava flows. Or for some vineyards near the activity the constantly shifting soil composition. It’s also remote here. The old vines require careful tending. The terrain is rough, and often steep. Everything has to be done with perseverance and by hand. It’s a toil. Frank Cornelissen, an eccentric, white-haired Dane, told me that in winter he skis in the dark at 5am to reach his vines. Anna Martens de-stems her grapes by hand, massaging them through a mesh, rather than subject them to a machine.
Red wine on Etna really revolves around nerello mascalese, a grape often, because of its finesse and translucency, spoken of in the same breath as pinot noir and nebbiolo. Like pinot noir in Burgundy, nerello mascalese tends to showcase the land; grown even in adjacent vineyards it can make wine that tastes dramatically different. Altitude is also a key factor: Etna rises to about 3,350m (11,000ft) and many vineyards are at high altitudes.
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Rupert Murdoch: From Tabloid Boss to Tabloid Quarry

There’s little more enjoyable for Britain’s most-popular red-top tabloid than to splash on a celebrity breakup. But the Sun‘s coverage of the implosion of one of the world’s highest-profile celebrity unions, between its proprietor Rupert Murdoch and his glamorous third wife, 44-year-old Wendi Deng, is notably terse.

“Media magnate Rupert Murdoch has filed for divorce from from his wife Wendi Deng. Mr Murdoch, 82, the head of the Sun’s parent company News Corporation, filed a petition with the New York Supreme Court stating their 14-year marriage had ‘broken down irretrievably.’ They have two daughters.”
And that was almost the full extent of the report posted early Friday on the Sun‘s website. The item—bereft of the Sun‘s hallmark tongue-in-cheek humor, salacious detail and intimate quotes from unnamed “friends”—concludes with a note of reassurance for any concerned Sun readers, shareholders or employees: “A News Corp spokesman said the divorce will have ‘zero impact’ on the firm.”
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Santorini volcano: new data of deformation during 2011-2012

According to the latest seismic and satellite (InSAR and GPS) data, the uplift at the Santorini volcano (2011-2012) has has come to an end.
In a recent press release, the Institute for Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications & Remote Sensing and the Dionysos Satellite Observatory, published their results of follow up studies in Santorini with the collaboration of MIT.
For the first time, the severe deformation (more than 10 cm in some areas) that mainly affected Nea Kameni and the northeastern caldera during 2011-early 2012, has been accurately quantified using advanced remote sensing techniques (PSI and SBAS) with satellite data and extended geodetic measurements (cGPS).

from the press release
"The volcanic unrest began in January 2011 and diminished around the end of February 2012. These results are documented in a manuscript in press [Papoutsis et al., 2013] at Geophysical Research Letters. An early view of the work can be found in, published online on 26 of January 2013.

"In Papoutsis et al. [2013] the surface deformation associated with Santorini volcanic activity is measured with the use of Envisat ASAR data and the application of two well-established Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar techniques, namely Persistent Scatterer Interferometry and Small BAseline Subset, producing dense line-of-sight (LOS) ground deformation maps depicting uplift with a radially decaying pattern in amplitude and velocity from the center of
"These can be seen in the fi gure that follows, where the maximum inflation of 150mm/yr, an unprecedent magnitude for Santorini since quantitative monitoring of the area began, is observed at Nea Kameni (a resurgent dome within the caldera), and in Imerovigli and Fira in Thera island (northeast of Nea Kameni) - well known touristic destinations.

"It is concluded fi nally in Papoutsis et al. [2013] that InSAR and the latest seismic and GPS data, spanning up to December 2012, suggest that the rapid inflation episode ceased since the end of February 2012. The observed displacement has declined signi cantly, reaching more than 80mm/yr of velocity change in certain sites. These observations are possibly signaling a new phase of relative stability and reducing the probability of an imminent volcanic eruption, following empirical knowledge from calderas that experienced similar inflation episodes in the past.

- Andrew V. Newman, Stathis Stiros, Lujia Feng, Panos Psimoulis, Fanis Moschas, Vasso Saltogianni, Yan Jiang, Costas Papazachos, Dimitris Panagiotopoulos, Eleni Karagianni, and Domenikos Vamvakaris (2012) "Recent geodetic unrest at Santorini Caldera, Greece" Geophysical Research Letters, 39(6):L06309, 2012. ISSN 0094-8276. doi: 10.1029/2012GL051286
- Ioannis Papoutsis, Xanthos Papanikolaou, Mike Floyd, Kang Hyeun Ji, Charalampos Kontoes, Demitris Paradissis, and Vangelis Zacharis (2013) "Mapping inflation at Santorini volcano, Greece, using GPS and InSAR." Geophysical Research Letters, 2013. ISSN 1944-8007. doi: 10.1029/2012GL054137.
- Michelle M. Parks, Juliet Biggs, Philip England, Tamsin A. Mather, Paraskevi Nomikou, Kirill Palamartchouk, Xanthos Papanikolaou, Demitris Paradissis, Barry Parsons, David M. Pyle, Costas Raptakis, and Vangelis Zacharis. (2012) "Evolution of Santorini Volcano dominated by episodic and rapid fluxes of melt from depth." Nature Geoscience, 5(10):749{754, 2012. ISSN 1752-0894. doi: 10.1038/ngeo1562

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Indian Celebritys go to Greece ( Hrithik and Katrina go Bang Bang in Greece )

Snapshots posted on a fan site provide a sneak peek into Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif's much-hyped upcoming biggie, Bang Bang. Although there is a strict no-camera policy on the sets, the pictures- which seem to be taken with a cellphone- show the two stars on an outdoor schedule in the city of Santorini in Greece.

Bang Bang, an action comedy, is the official Bollywood remake of the Hollywood superhit Knight and Day. Hrithik reprises Tom Cruise's role from the original while Katrina plays the character essayed by Cameron Diaz.

Considerable buzz has been generated around the film over the fact that Kahaani director Sujoy Ghosh will be writing the Hindi version for director Siddharth Anand, best known for Salaam Namaste and Bachna Ae Haseeno.

The Greek schedule is reportedly meant to picturise a romantic song with Katrina and Hrithik. The two stars have been shooting in Santorini for about a week now. The images posted show the actors in a cafe by the blue waters of the Aegean Sea.
Hrithik and Katrina shoot for their upcoming action film 'Bang Bang' in Greece

Katrina looks stunning as ever in a short white summer dress with her hair pulled to one side and a flower pinned into her tresses to complete beachside charm.

Hrithik is seen strumming a guitar in a sleeveless shirt that accentuates his biceps teamed with bright orange pants.

In the sequence being shot, Hrithik was seen wooing Katrina who slowly descended from a gallery to sit by him and then lean on his shoulder.

Ahmed Khan is the choreographer of Bang Bang. In all, three songs of the film will be shot in the Mediterranean region. The songs are expected to be different from the typically-shot Bollywood love songs.

The film is being shot across several parts of India and abroad.

Shooting in Greece is expected to go on till July and then vital portions will be filmed in various other locations in Europe. The Kashmir schedule will be shot later this year.

Bang Bang will incidentally mark the comeback of veteran villain Danny Denzongpa in a pivotal role. The film, which will see Hrithik and Katrina engage in high-octane action, marks the entry of Fox Star Studios of Hollywood's 20th Century Fox franchise into Bollywood film production.
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Queens Eats: Shrimp Santorini

I don’t know if it’s the constantly changing weather - chilly and rainy one day, broiling hot the next - or allergies, but this spring and early summer I’ve been suffering from a severe case of the sniffles and persistent headaches.
I’ve visited many countries in Europe, from Belgium to Italy, but I think that Greece is my favorite. The unbelievable beauty of Santorini, the historic sites in Athens and Crete and the laid-back seaside vibe in Mykonos, coupled with the friendliness of the Greek people and the tastiness of the food, all add up to an unrivaled paradise on the Mediterranean.

I dream of returning one day but, until then, I frequent the Greek eateries in Astoria and, this week, decided to try my hand at Shrimp Santorini.

The result is delicious, served with a Greek country salad of chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, purple onions and feta, lightly doused in olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. Enjoy.

Shrimp Santorini (Source:
Note: This recipe serves six. Adjust quantities accordingly.


1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 (750 milliliter) bottle dry white wine
2 pounds peeled and deveined medium shrimp
1 (4 ounce) container crumbled feta cheese
2 lemons, halved


Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, chopped parsley, tomatoes and wine. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for an hour, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has slightly thickened.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).

Stir the shrimp into the tomato sauce and cook for two minutes, remove from the heat. Pour the shrimp mixture into a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese. Bake in the preheated oven until the feta has softened and the shrimp are no longer translucent, 45 minutes to an hour. Squeeze the lemon halves over the shrimp and garnish with the parsley sprigs to serve.
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5 Greek islands you haven’t heard of – but need to see

 You’d be forgiven for thinking the Greek islands were invented for tourists. Though tranquil, idyllic and remarkably quaint, it was only relatively recently that places such as Mykonos, Santorini and Corfu became destinations for everyone from celebrities to honeymooners. Even mainland Greeks did not vacation in the islands until a few decades ago.

Now the islands have become some of the world’s most recognizable tourist destinations. Most visitors flock to the same handful of places every year but there are hundreds of islands to choose from, many of which have maintained their village life. Here are five off the well-worn tourist track:
When an Athens travel agent told me to visit Folegandros I was skeptical. It was late July and boats to other islands were sold out. I hadn’t heard of Folegandros and had to be shown it on a map but I booked anyway. It turns out that was the best decision I’d make that summer. Folegandros is a hidden gem in the Aegean, with a cliff-hanging whitewashed village (known locally as hora), rugged but stunning landscapes and beaches hugging the side of high promontories. Visitors are mainly Greek with a smattering of French and Italians. The sleepy town wakes up in the night with tables spilling into the cobblestone streets filled with multilingual diners. Breakfast or dinner in the courtyard of Mimi’s restaurant is almost surreal in its charm.
In 2009, Forbes magazine proclaimed Patmos the most idyllic place to live in Europe. It’s hard not to see why. The island coastline rolls and swirls forming bays and inlets with crystal blue water. Patmos is dominated by the imposing Monastery of St. John the Theologian under which is the cave where John wrote Revelations. The spiritual island has numerous beaches and a surprisingly vibrant nightlife for a place where monks make up a good portion of the population. George’s Place at Kambos beach is a good spot to get a drink while soaking up the sun. A visit to the three historic windmills, recently restored by a Swiss banker who vacations on the island, is a must.
Anafi is stunning, but chances are you’ll overlook it once you realize how time consuming it is to reach. There’s no airport and it’s a 10-hour ferry ride from Athens . The population? Less than 300. Those who make the journey are rewarded with the island’s remoteness, serene beaches and its enchanting white cubist village that tumbles down from the mountains. The footpaths around the island linking the various settlements make it a perfect place to hike during the early morning or at dusk when the sun is not so strong. Take a tour through the island’s history on a hike from the hora (main town) to the 8th century BC ruins of Kastelli to the monastery Panagia Kalamiotissa built on Apollo’s temple. It also offers gorgeous views of the coast.
Popular with northern Europeans, Samos is one of Greece’s greenest islands known for its Muscat wines. Samians are undeniably proud of the their export and never forget to insist that it’s not just for drinking with dessert. Vineyards roll up and down the hillsides of Samos right down to the sea and can be visited on an informal basis. The Viticultural Union of Samos’ museum is a great place to taste the wines and learn more about the island. Samos is large and meant to be explored by car, which are easy to rent here. Stay in the picturesque port of Pythagorio with its shiny cobblestone streets and bustling, popular waterfront. The fish restaurants on the far left of the port are the best. The capital Vathy is mostly devoid of tourists but worth exploring on a Friday night when locals dine and stroll along the harbour where working fishermen (and women) tend to their vessels and string nets.
Steeped in mystery and lore, Samothraki is one of Greece’s most magical islands. With no natural harbour and no airport, it is mostly visited by northern Greeks – and, according to legend, witches. Rumour has it that the island is frequented by sorcerers and other practitioners of the dark arts, due to its ancient reputation for pre-Hellenic cults and its more mysterious atmosphere compared to the white-washed, austere islands in the southern Aegean. Whether that’s true, the island, once described as “taciturn” by author Lawrence Durrell, is lush and mountainous with hidden waterfalls and tropical vegetation. Towering Mount Fengari hovers like a dark cloud over the north Aegean from the Greek mainland and offers impressive views – if you’re up for a hike. The island is also home to the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, a pre-Hellenic and Hellenic historical site where the famous Winged Victory of Samothrace statue, now in the Louvre, once stood.
A few tips for travelling the Greek islands.
Travel: Ferry tickets can sometimes be purchased in advance online through individual carriers but they still need to be picked up at a local travel agency. For smaller islands during peak season (between July 15 and Aug. 15 when Greeks go on holiday), booking a ferry ahead of time online or through a travel agency is essential.
Hotels: Finding accommodation upon arrival to an island outside of July and August is easy and can save you money. Booking ahead will certainly guarantee you’re paying the highest price. Most ferries will be greeted by hotel owners and those with rooms for rent. Prices can be bargained depending on the length of the stay.
Advice: The best policy for finding the top beaches, restaurants and bars on any island is to ask a local – then ask another local and see if there’s agreement. If there isn’t consensus, keep asking.
Food: As in any popular tourist spot, don’t eat on the main street where foreigners congregate and try to find places where the local language is being spoken. Greeks are notoriously fussy about their food and will not eat in places deemed for tourists. You shouldn’t either.
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Traveling to Santorini

Santorini [1] is a volcanic island in the Cyclades group of the Greek islands. It is located between Ios and Anafi islands. It is famous for dramatic views, stunning sunsets from Oia town, the strange white aubergine (eggplant), the town of Thira and naturally its very own active volcano. There are naturally fantastic beaches such as the beach of Perissa, maybe the best beach in Santorini, the black pebble beach of Kamari, white beach and red beach.


There are several villages on Santorini Island.
  • Fira - the main stunning cliff-perched town, featuring all that Oia has, but much more overcrowded.
  • Karterados - 2km south of Fira. Here you can find the traditional Santorini architecture
  • Kamari - black pebble beach.
  • Firostefani - just 10 minutes walking distance from Fira, offering unique views of the volcano and sunset.
  • Imerovigli - small resort town a short bus ride away from Fira. Has absolutely stunning views of the sunset (all the way down to the horizon) and of Oia.
  • Oia or Ia - for unforgettable sunsets, probably the most charming place on the island.
  • Pyrgos - highest point on the island; picturesque monastery and streets, can compete with Oia.
  • Perissa - Nice, well-organized beaches and good Greek fish taverns.
  • Megalochori -Traditional village with a lot of old white cycladic churches.
  • Akrotiri -Visit the archeological site of Aktotiri. Stunning history.
  • Mesaria - The centre of the island. There is a small market on the road every morning with fresh fish. Do not miss the Argiros Estate to see a 19th century house fully rebuilt.
  • Monolithos- Nice beach and a few good taverns. Very good for children, as the water is shallow.
  • Vlichada - a small village and a beach.
  • Vothonas - a small rock village, the church of St. Ann is here. Architecturally it is the strangest village on the island, as all the buildings were cut from the ravine that it is in.
Also there's Thirasia, a village on the nearby island with the same name--visited by fewer tourists. There are daily excurisions to the Kameni (volcano) Island which also reach Thirasia island.

An alternative name for Santorini is Thira. Santorini is also a name for the family of islands surrounding Thira, once forming a single island prior to a major volcanic event in approximately 1628 B.C.E.
The small island cradles a rich variety of landscapes and villages. Visit traditional architecture in the small village of Mesa Gonia containing a mixture of ruins from the 1956 earthquake and restored villas as well as a winery at the foot of the settlement. Pyrgos is another notable village set inland with its grand old houses, remains of a Venetian castle and several Byzantine churches.
The island has no natural source of fresh water. Prior to the early 1990's, it was necessary for water to be delivered to the island via tanker from Crete. However, most hotels and homes now have access to water provided by a local desalination plant. While this water is potable, it is still rather salty, so most everyone drinks bottled water while visiting Santorini.
Fira is the fiery capital, a marriage of Venetian and Cycladic architecture, whose white cobblestone streets bustle with shops, tavernas, hotels and cafes, while clinging to the rim of the caldera nine hundred feet above the its port. If arriving by sea you can take a cable car up from the port or alternatively take a trip on one of the hundreds of mules up the 588 zigzagging steps. You could also attempt to walk up the steps but be warned, they are winding, narrow in parts with only low walls, they are covered in donkey excrement and the donkeys themselves will make no attempt to avoid you.
Walking along a path for about twenty minutes will bring you to Imerovigli where you can take in the magnificent views of the island’s unique scenery from the tiny town.
Just above Fira at the highest point of the island is the quintessentially Santorininian town of Ia, also sometimes spelled Oia, with its whitewashed walls sunk into the volcanic rock and its blue domes rising above the sterling beauty of the stunning, russet Ammoudi Bay. At dusk, the town attracts crowds of people venturing to see the sunset. Santorini's sunsets, as viewed from Oia, are reputed to be among the world's most beautiful.
Due to the spectacular and unique natural beauty of Santorini, many Greek singers have chosen the island as the setting of their videos. Greek and Brazilian TV series have been shot of Santorini, as well as some Hollywood movies (e.g. Tomb Raider II). Generally Santorini is a pole of attraction for Greek and international celebrities.

The season starts April 1, or around Greek Easter. The period from December through March is very much the off-season and marked by colder temperatures, rain and winds. Although the temperature is rarely cold, the poor weather makes for a less than optimal experience on this beautiful island. Most of the businesses, including hotels and guest houses, may be closed. Ideal times to visit, for milder weather, prices and crowds, are April-June and September-October.

Getting in from Athens by air is faster and not prone to sea sickness, compared to ferries. However, in season air tickets sell out well before most of the ferries.

Santorini (Thira) National Airport [2] is an airport in Santorini/Thira, Greece (IATA: JTR, ICAO: LGSR), located north of the village of Kamari. With regular flights from Athens by Olympic Air [3], Aegean Airlines [4] and AirSea Lines [5] (a seaplane airline). Flight duration from Athens to Santorini is about 30 minutes. During summer, Sky Express [6] connects Santorini with other popular islands such as Crete (Heraklion), Rhodes and Mykonos. During the months of July and August Astra Airlines [7] flies from [8].

From May till October charter airlines fly directly to Santorini from many European airports.
  • Air Berlin [9] flies from Berlin Tegel (TXL), Düsseldorf (DUS) , Hamburg (HAM), Nuremberg (NUE) and Vienna (VIE);
  • Condor [10] flies from Dusseldorf (DUS), Stuttgart (STR), Frankfurt (FRA), Munich (MUC), Hamburg (HAM);
  • EasyJet [11] flies from London Gatwick (LGW) and Milan Malpensa (MXP) and from this year Manchester (MAN);
  • Edelweiss Air [12] flies from Zurich (ZRH);
  • Germanwings [13] flies from Cologne/Bonn (CGN), Munich (MUC) and Stuttgart (STR);
  • Jetairfly [14]flies from Brussels (BRU);
  • Meridiana [15] flies from Milan Malpensa (MXP));
  • Norwegian [16] flies from Copenhagen (CPH), Oslo (OSL) and Stockholm (ARN);
  • ThomasCook [17] [18] flies from London Gatwick (LGW), Manchester (MAN) and Brussels (BRU);
  • Thompson [19] flies from Manchester (MAN)
  • Transavia [20] flies from Amsterdam (AMS).
From the airport there are buses to Fira, where you can change to buses for other towns. Taxis are also usually waiting at the airport, but competition for them can be keen. Many Santorini hotels offer airport transfers, usually for a fee that's more than a taxi would charge you, but some may find it worth it for the convenience.

By sea

Take the ferry from Piraeus past Paros and Naxos to the new port on Santorini. More details in the Cyclades article. There is also daily connection between Heraklion (Crete) and Santorini during high season.
If you prefer sea, your best bet is high-speed catamarans. The trip from Pireaus to Santorini takes 4.5hrs with a high speed ferry.
Ferries dock at the port of Athinios [21], where buses and taxis meet each arrival to transport passengers to Oia, Fira, and elsewhere. All vehicles climb a very steep, winding road (it makes seven 180 degree turns) to get anywhere from Athinios.
If you arrive by cruise ship, the experience will surely leave you with lasting memories. Cruise ships that reach the island do not anchor near Athinios port, but one or two miles north, also within the caldron, but below Thira (aka Fira)[22]. Locals with fishing boats occasionally transfer cruisers to the old port (which seems not to have changed over the last 50 years), and larger, decorated shuttle boats take large-ship cruisers to/from the nearby docks below Thira. From the "Thira docks", you can use the cable car to reach the town, taking perhaps 5 minutes for the ride. Or if you like small adventures you can ride a donkey, which climbs up a small path on the cliff (weight limits imposed).
  • With one or more large cruise ships off-shore, long lines may queue at the bottom of the cable car. Casual Thira walkers/shoppers may meet many others at the top returning after a few hours, and other queues form somewhat before passengers are expected back aboard their ship(s). Plan accordingly.
  • The donkey ride will last longer, may have no queues, and is definitely a unique experience for those meeting the weight limits.
    • If weight proves a problem and you're fit, ask if you might walk up along the donkey path (no charge, but no mean feat).
Transport by sea is always dependent on weather. For safety, especially in winter or raining monsoon, cruise ships may delay or cancel shuttles to/from shore, and ferries their departure times to or from the island.

Getting around

The island has a public bus service, with buses costing € 1.60, € 1.80 and € 2.20. Buses run between every 30 minutes to every other hour. Timetables are available at website [23]. The buses occasionally miss trips, and some drivers are less than friendly. Travellers should know that there is also a shuttle bus service [24] operating to and from the airport and port but requires pre-booking. In addition, there are "hop on hop off" private bus services, [25]. Boats also run between major coastal towns on the island.
Cars can be rented from about € 40- 45 a day. An international driving permit is recommended. Without one, many car rental places will rent cars, but travel guides have mentioned tourists having insurance problems in case of accident. Scooters and 4-wheelers (quads or all-terrain-vehicles) are available to rent starting at about €15 or €30 per day, respectively. A drivers license is required to rent these 4-wheelers. Be aware that most of the people in Santorini are tourists. As a result, road conditions are extremely unsafe, with many people driving by the laws and conventions of nearly every country in the world.
A popular method of getting around is to rent ATVs, though the "all-terrain" part is a misnomer, as most ATV riders are tourists riding on the paved road. ATVs share the road with other drivers and are usually all over the island. The island is small enough to travel around on an ATV, and is a cost-effective way to self-explore the further reaches of Santorini. ATV rental shops are all around the island, so it's best to ask your hotel owner/concierge on the closest/most trusted vendor. You will need your local driver's license to ride one of these, and a helmet is recommended.
Some hotels advise booking a taxi in advance, as there are not enough available taxis on the island during high season. As is the rule in the Cyclades, taxi fares are typically shared between multiple passengers, so don't be surprised if your cabbie picks up more passengers during your trip.
It takes about 50 minutes to drive the island from end to end (from Vlichada to Ia).

By bicycle

The island is small enough that it can be thoroughly explored by bicycle, or with a few bus trips, by foot. Bicycle rentals are fairly hard to find -- most places advertising bike rentals refer to motorbikes, rather than bicycles. The maps are designed for hikers, however, so the recommended routes are impassable by bicycle.
Santorini is not very bicycle-friendly -- there are no dedicated bicycle routes, so you must share roads with vehicular traffic. In addition, the island is very hilly. The traffic was more friendly to bicycles than to pedestrians or other vehicular traffic, however.

By foot

Recommended routes by foot include the amazing walk from Fira to Oia (note that this walk is less nice in reverse, it can take less than three hours but can be difficult, for up and downhill climbs, the rocky surface at times, and the proximity to unprotected cliffs that drop sharply into the caldera) along the caldera, as well as the paths over Perissa Rock connecting Perissa, Kamari, and Pyrgos. The walk between Perissa and Kamari is fairly short (via Ancient Thira), while the walk to Pyrgos is somewhat longer, passing through the highest point on the island.

Traditional Cave House
Santorini is one of the great natural wonders of the world, and its main attraction is the landscape and seascape of the island itself. The configuration of the present, roughly semicircular island is the result of an enormous volcanic explosion which occurred probably around 1630 bce, literally blowing the top off the island and changing what had been a typical half-submerged mountain of an Aegean island into a flooded crescent caldera, in the middle of which a few small smoking islands still bear witness to volcanic activity. Some have speculated that this event was the inspiration for the myth of Atlantis. The towns of Fira, Ia (also known as Oia) and Thirasis cling to the steep cliffs facing into the caldera bay. Tours to the central "smoking" islands are readily available and one can see and feel steam vents and recent (1950s) lava flows.
Another popular reason for coming to Santorini are the legendary sunsets, some of the most spectacular in the world. Ia is one of the few places on the island which is both close to a sea and offers a good view to a sunset over the sea: in other towns, the sun disappears behind the volcano.
Additionally the town of Fira is stunning.

Donkeys Carrying Bags of Cement
Be sure to explore the areas outside of the towns. There is beautiful countryside where tradition still survives. Cave houses (both abandoned and occupied), gardens, vineyards, small family business, and tiny churches are there to be discovered.
Santorini ranks among top destinations for wedding celebrations for at least 4 years -- primarily for sunset and peace, like those in Oia. Couples often arrive with few friends, stay in Ia (places like Fanari Villas). Groups often arrive in the beginning of the week -- judging by demand for cabrios and number of corteges seen on Mondays compared to weekends.
While the island is full of medium- and top-cost hotels and villas, there are still lots of abandoned caves and modest private houses where noone seems to live for a long time -- even in western Oia where every inch seems to be occupied by some villa. And this doesn't seem to change for years, judging by 2001-2005.
  • Thirassia: small island near Santorini; place with more authentic villages, buildings and even churches. Take a look at hymnasia: in the yard, pupil painted children on the walls.
  • Boat excursions: volcano island (Nea Kameni) - hot springs (Palia Kameni) - Thirassia
From Ia: departure from Ammoudi bay at 10:50AM (starting and end point); a bit later from Armeni bay. 1hr 30min at volcano island; 45min for hot springs; 2hrs for Thirassia (incl. time for lunch). Meals are not included, normally the guide advises you to visit Captain Jack's tavern, which is self service if you arrive with a big group or operates with waiters if you don't. This restaurant serves amazing fresh seafood at the cheapest prices. Testament to how good it is, is the fact you will notice that none of the adjacent restaurants are ever busy. Only this one.
  • Faros. A lighthouse near Akrotiri, west of the southern part of the island. Rocky cliff, interesting for taking photos. Although you cannot enter the lighthouse, which is run by Greek Navy, it's a great and tranquil place for taking photos.  edit
  • a viewpoint behind Iris hotel (close to center of the island): great for taking sunset photos with a sea and palm trees.


Public beaches do not seem to have showers or places for changing.
  • Black Beach- see Kamari and Perissa
  • Red Beach- it's worth taking the Red Beach/Akrotiri bus from Fira and then climbing over the very rocky trails to get here (though there are water taxis and various schooners that make their way here as well). Red Beach earns its name from the iron-rich sedimentary rocks in the cliff face towering above you, as well as the red sand. It's quite crowded; you can rent an umbrella and a pair of chaise lounges for € 8, though there is also some good free space nearby that gets packed by midday. The first few meters of the water near the shore are quite gravelly, so be prepared to step on some stones. Women are frequently topless. Many distant yachts can be seen from the beach -- it looks really romantic at sunset time. Great snorkeling - an abundance of sea life is present, as with Perissa. The tavernas built into the caves on Red Beach seem to have no electricity or running water, so if you eat or use the washrooms there, bring along hand sanitizer!

    Red Beach
  • White Beach- available only from the sea; get there by boat from Red Beach or Akrotiri. There is no pier so the only way to get there is by getting of the boat and walking through water that starts at about you waist. It is very small with only a few beds.
  • Vlichada- this is a nude beach. On the left side of the beach, you will see that people are clothed, but as you go toward the right, you will find everyone in nude. An umbrella with 2 chaise longues cost €5 if you stay on the left side of the beach.
  • Amoudi- this is not really a beach with sand, but is a wonderfully secluded swimming area reachable from Oia. There is a road around the far side of Oia that leads down to a small parking lot. From there, you can reach the swimming area on foot past a few small restaurants. There is also a platform on a large rock that people can swim to and dive off.
  • Perivolos- lighter sand than Perissa beach, and is very enjoyable when the North Wind is blowing. It has beach bars and restaurants that makes it feel like a "beach day club".
  • Monolithos- quiet but well organized beach with all the comforts of the other beaches such as clubs, restaurants, and umbrellas.
  • Baxedes- this is the main beach at the north side of the Island. Baxedes is a peaceful place with black sand, it is much more like how Santorini was like before tourists discovered the island. This is not the best beach when the north wind is blowing. It is easiest to get there by rented or private car or motorbike.
  • Pori- this is an amazing beach on the east side of Santorini where the rocks have a very unique red color to them. This is an excellent beach for those who do not mind walking a bit to get there. No facilities, restaurants, or shopping is located here.
  • Mesa pigadia- A beautiful rocky beach near the nature side of the island by the town Akrotiri. About 800 meters away from the Akrotiri main road there are restaurants on the beach itself. There are several ways to reach the beach which include driving, biking, or taking a small boat from Akrotiri. The price is about € 7 for the ride and another € 7 to rent an umbrella.
  • Agios georgios- at the southern tip of the Santorini this beach has everything from water sports to beach bars. There are a few small taverns here and it is the perfect spot to have a quiet swim and avoid the massive crowds. You can reach this beach from Emporio and Perissa by rented or private car. Walking is also an option.


  • Volcan Wines Museum & Winery: [26];+30 2286 31322. open 12PM-8PM.
  • Santo Wines: [27]; open 9AM-sunset
  • Argiros Estate: Mesa Gonia near Kamari
  • Roussos winery: Mesa Gonia near Kamari
  • Boutari winery: Megalochori
  • Hatzidakis winery: Pyrgos
  • Antoniou Winery: Megalochori 
  • Sigalas Winery; Oia

To Do

  • Walk along the caldera from Fira to Oia
  • Climb to see Ancient Thira, or more ambitiously, the monastery, for an amazing view of the ocean, beaches, and island from up high.
  • Horseback riding in Exo Gonia
  • Scuba diving and snorkling. Even non-qualified divers can dive up to 14 metres down on a wreck next to the volcano.
  • Caldera Cruise and Oia Sunset
  • Plan your wedding in Santorini

Historic sights

Akrotiri, in the south, a roughly 3,500 year old Minoan town preserved in volcanic ash like Pompeii, is one of Santorini's "must-sees". The excavation site is covered by a roofing system, which makes it something that you can comfortably visit no matter what time of year. The ruins are extremely well preserved. Streets, buildings, stairs and even second floors of buildings are still visible. Visitors can stand in the ruins and look at Minoan pottery and frescoes, and with a little imagination, feel what it would have been like to live in ancient Greece. Due to an accident in September 2005, the excavation site was temporarily closed to the public, but as of April 2012, the site is once again open.
Ancient Thera, the Classical city of the island is on Mesa Vouno, 396 m. above sea level. It was founded in the 9th century B.C. by Dorian colonists whose leader was Theras, and continued to be inhabited until the early Byzantine period. The preserved ruins belong to the Hellenistic and Roman phases of the city. The residential area and the larger part of the cemeteries were excavated by German archaeologists between 1895 and 1902. The cemeteries on the NE and NW slopes of Sellada were excavated by N. Zapheiropoulos in the years 1961-1982.
Fira has the Museum of Prehistoric Thira that contains some of the artifacts, which were found in the ruins of Akrotiri. So first visit Akrotini, where the items came from and then Thira to understand what the items are. The museum has more pots, pottery and other household items than you can shake an antique stick at, but the highlight is the frescoes of the blue monkeys -- a mystery since historians say there is no evidence that there were ever monkeys on Santorini.
Also in Fira, near the cable car station, is the Archeological Museum that contains artifacts from various eras. Most of the exhibits are dated from the Classic and Roman period from the ancient town of Thera and it's cemeteries.


The Cycladic Islands are world-famous for their picturesque towns of cubic white-washed homes and blue-domed churches. Santoríni is especially famous for the towns of Firá and Oía, whose white and pastel-colored homes and churches-- seemingly stacked on top of each other-- are perched on the cliffs of the caldera. Many of these traditional homes are built on cliff-side caves, thus having a much larger interior than their exterior would suggest. The architecture of Santoríni's picturesque towns is typically Cycladic, but with strong neoclassical and baroque influences visible in many of the island's churches and public buildings.

The arts

While Santorini cannot claim a prominent art collection, why not see some local and international artists work by visiting the Art Space Gallery and Winery in the small village of Exo Gonia, on the way between Fira and Kamari. Art Space is a winery built in 1830, an old canava. Also an museum with old installations for raki and tomato-juice. Owned by the same family (Argyros) for three generations.

Scenery and nature

The landscape here --the blue sky, the little white houses perched on gigantic rocks on hills that plummet to the sea, the lemon and orange groves, the pink and white churches that look like pastrycakes, the faces and warmth and expressiveness of the Greek people -- little wonder this may be the most photographed scenery in the world.

Scuba and Snorkelling

Santorini has 5 dive shops. Prices are typically around € 80 for two dives, including equipment rental, transport, and usually, a light lunch. The offerings are otherwise quite similar. Prices are sometimes lower when booked directly through dive shop, rather than through a travel agency. Try the Mediterranean Dive Club], Their dive station is on Caldera Beach near Akrotiri, but they also have an office on Perissa Beach. There are also two dive shops in Kamari: Navy's Waterworld Dive Center (+30 22860 28 190, [28]), and Aegean Divers (+30 22860 33210,, [29]).
Diving, visibility is amazing, but there are not as many fish as more popular scuba and snorkelling locations. Dive sites include a wreck near the volcano, caverns, reefs, as well as wall diving. The wall dive is the most interesting. Octopus are not uncommon. To minimize environmental damage, all five dive shops go to the same locations (although not at the same time), with moorings shared by all the dive shops. If you want to go to a specific dive site, call ahead, and find out which dive shops are heading to which locations on which day (or ask to go to a specific location).
Recommended sites for snorkelling include Mesa Pigadia beach, somewhat out (some people recommended a diving buoy for boat safety), the beach South of Oia, as well as Perissa Rock (esp. somewhat further around the rock). There are supposed to be some nice spots between Perivolos and Vlichada Beach as well. The beach on Thirasia also has some reasonable snorkelling. Caldera Beach, near Akrotiri, has a few amazing snorkelling spots. When walking down to Caldera Beach (follow the signs to Santorini Dive Center), you will see some rock formations further out into the water. If you can find those once in the water, and swim to them, you will find wonderful snorkelling.
Virtually all beach-side shops will sell cheap, low-quality snorkelling gear (mask for around 10EU, fins for around 20EU).


  • Atlantis Books, [30]. The largest selection of English language books on the island. Also stocks Greek, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch.
  • Santoríni is one of Greece's most prominent wine regions, whose wines enjoy special designation of origin status from the European Union. The method of growing grapes (with vines close to the earth and individual vines spaced far apart from each other) is unique to the island, with its dry soil and windy climate. Wineries open to the public are located throughout the island.
  • Buy Santorini wines on Iama Wine Store in Oia.Very nice shop with all Santorini wines and over 350 labels of other Greek and international wines.
  • Activities Santorini Sea Kayak, Akrotiri, 00306951801051, [31]. Sea Kayak, Stand Up Paddling, Rock Climbing and hiking activities.  edit


Santorini specials include: the white aubergine (eggplant); fava caper ; a variety of tomato keftedes, with whole slices of tomatoes fried in batter; dolmades, stuffed vine leaves. Another must-try is fresh fish grilled in tavernas, esp. those close to a sea.
If you decide to eat or drink in a taverna overlooking the caldera or having a good view to a sunset, expect higher prices than a similar establishment in one of the many side-streets as you are charged extra for the view –- but what a view!
For those who enjoy the Mediterranean diet -- fresh fish, vegetables, and meat dishes can be found at several moderately priced restaurants (average 40 Euros for two) in Imerovigli, Oia, and Fira. To save money, stay away from places that are overtly commercial and go to the family run fish taverns located nearby the smaller beaches and communities.
Gyros places are everywhere.
Don't miss the traditional fried tomato balls of tomato keftedes and be sure to ask for local tomatoes in your salad. They may be the best tasting you have ever had. Santorini is particularly well known for its cherry tomatoes which are very sweet.


Tour local wineries and enjoy the local wines, well thought of, if not world famous. A combination of climatic factors and the tastes of those who have occupied and lived on the island have formed an eclectic cuisine.
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Greek chic

In the Eurovision Song Contest the Greeks offered us a glimpse of what a post-independence Scottish entry might sound like.
An elderly man with a tiny guitar and a twinkle in his eye was surrounded by four guys in kilts wielding trumpets and an accordion, and singing about booze. With their catchy, rabble-rousing chorus – "Alcohol is free" – they trounced the UK and came sixth.
Lest you're planning to go carousing through the Greek islands this summer, I should point out it's not free. Beer and spirits cost less than here, but wine – at least the good stuff – is never cheap because of the way it's produced. A typical Greek vineyard will be planted on a steep, rocky slope and tended by hand to produce half the average yields of France and Italy due to the low rainfall. The altitude of the vineyards and the wonderful natural acidity in native grapes explains why the country's wines can be so fresh and vibrant despite the vines cooking in the heat.

In the past the Greeks were famed for their retsina, a resinous, white "vino collapso" that slipped down OK beside the Aegean Sea but didn't taste half so good back home. That's all history now according to Mary Pateras, who has been importing the country's wines since she married a Greek 11 years ago. "If you go on holiday now," she says, "you don't find retsina in the local tavern. Nobody drinks it any more."
The first real pioneer was Steve Daniels while he was head buyer at Oddbins. Having helped launch Australian wine into the UK, he rose to the challenge of Greece in the late nineties and brought over no less than 40 wines. Many were excellent, but what with their strange-sounding names and the odd residual memory of dodgy retsina, we weren't quite ready for them.
The much slimmed-down chain – with just 10 Scottish stores split between Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen – has decided to try again, and this time the omens appear much more promising thanks to a country at the other end of the Mediterranean. "Last year we took a conscious decision to take a lead on Portugal," says Oddbins buyer Ana Sapungiu. "With customer tastings, the response has been phenomenal – and our bestselling wine is now a Portuguese red. It goes to show anything's possible."
It also shows we are becoming more relaxed about unfamiliar grapes and blends, at which Portugal excels. For anyone bored with sauvignon, pinot grigio and merlot, Greece offers respite, albeit at slightly greater expense.
Here are a few good choices: for reds, try agiorgitiko, a fragrant, widely-planted grape that produces soft, beaujolais-style wines from Nemea in the Peloponnese peninsula. Or the potentially more exciting xinomavro, ("sour black") with its tangy, olive-like flavours that comes from Macedonia in the north-west. Most famous among the whites is assyrtiko, grown in the black volcanic soil of Santorini to produce bone-dry, citrus-scented wines, but don't ignore the exotic, aromatic moschofilero.
If we get one warm, still day this summer, any of these would make a lovely picnic wine for the beach. After a few glasses you might almost feel closer to Greece – an illusion that will soon be shattered when you dip your toe in the sea.

Fix Hellas
£1.65, Oddbins (5%, 330ml)
Besides reviving its Greek wine range Oddbins has thrown in a couple of beers. Founded by a Bavarian expat in 1864, Fix used to be ubiquitous in Greece. Now relaunched, It's a German-style lager with a trace of that glycerol sweetness you get in Indian beers.
Semeli Feast White 2012
£8.50, Oddbins (11.5%)
I can't say I've drunk much moschofilero, but I might do now after drinking this intensely floral yet wonderfully crisp example from the Peloponnese. It has an almost oriental aroma of rose petals and tangerines, followed by a burst of mouthwatering citrus fruit.
Naoussa Jeunes Vignes 2012
£12.50, Oddbins (13.5%)
While the Semeli red – a straight agiorgitiko – tasted a bit hollow, I was really impressed by this raspberry-scented xinomavro from Macedonia, where average temperatures are similar to Bordeaux. The relatively cool vineyards explain the wine's elegance and its savoury red fruit.
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