Venture outside the tourist box to see how Athens’ ever-changing present syncs with its age-old past! The book ‘111 Places in Athens You Shouldn’t Miss’ was written to offer you exactly that. This is just one of 10 unmissable places that even locals often miss, offered exclusively for IN+SIGHTS GREECE readers by the guide’s publishers EMONS.
This year, 2021, marks a century since this warehouse-like shop (Ariana’s Olives) has sold almost nothing but olives. Open to the street, with no doors to put you off, it invites you to inspect the contents of 23 large free-standing barrels as well as smaller containers poised on shelves along the side walls. And taste them.
Perhaps you thought there were only two kinds of olives, green and black, pitted or stuffed with pimento, garlic or almond? This collection features the fruit of some 20 varieties, with emphasis on the big oval greeny ones from Amphissa, the famous olive grove below Delphi. The Kalothanasis brothers, Andreas and Mihalis, represent the third generation in this business started by their grandfather, Andreas, who came from the area, and where the olives are still processed. As Mihalis, who runs the shop, says, ‘Amphissa olives grown anywhere else don’t taste the same. The land, soil, climate make a difference. We deal with olives from all over Greece – tear-shaped Kalamata, tiny Cretan, wrinkly (salt-cured) throumbes from Thasos – and my brother knows the secrets of curing, preserving and storing them until the next season. Ideally, we’d like to run out the day the new olives arrive, and sometimes that has happened.’
The most popular and priciest are big green olives from Mount Athos, followed by blond throumbes from Chios. And some firm Amphissa ones are rated by size: jumbo, colossal and mammoth.
The name Ariana comes from two ancient Greek words, ari and a(g)no. It means ‘very pure’, like the olive tree, Athena’s gift, which earned her the patronage of the city over Poseidon’s salt spring in the mythical contest on the Acropolis.
Address: Theatrou 3, Athens 10552, +30 210 3211839
Getting there: Metro to Monastiraki (M 1 & M 3) or Omonia (M 1 & M 2), and a 10-minute walk
Hours: Mon – Sat 7.30am – 3.30pm
Tip: In the heart of Athens’ food and market district, there are many other shops selling just one thing, from ropes to shoelaces, eggs, flour and phyllo.
111 Places in Athens That You Shouldn’t Miss can be found at all major bookstores worldwide as well as online at Amazon