Spring is a wonderful time to visit Greece. Whether you are in a city, village, or island, spring makes its first appearance in March and reaches full bloom in April through to May. As hints of winter melt away, the colours of spring add to the beauty of Greece’s landscapes and these Greek destinations are just the perfect holiday spots to enjoy springtime in Greece.
Where: Crete, White Mountains National Park.
Why: Because it’s one of the longest and especially in spring, naturally beautiful gorges in the world & the longest in Europe. The 6-8 hour hike is not for everyone and requires some preparation but you’ll reap many rewards as you pass through lush landscapes. Also because it’s too cold in winter and too hot in summer, during spring, hiking along the gorge is easier.
Don’t Miss: Keep your eyes peeled for birds and other wildlife as around 450 species are thought to inhabit the area.
Where: In the Cycladic Island group, 1-2 hours from Athens’ Rafina port.
Why: Because, unlike its neighbours, globally popular hiking destination Andros (named Ydroussa in antiquity because of how much water springs around the island) has lush nature that is especially glorious in spring.
Don’t Miss: The waterfalls of Pithara, the old stone bridges of Aladinou and Stichiomeni, Achla river and beach, the hike from Chora to Apoikia, from Arni to Vourkoti, the villages of Sineti and Aidonia.
Where: Zagori is in the eastern and central area of the Pindus mountains of Epirus.
Why: Because the area, made up of 48 architecturally harmonious villages from the 1700s and fabulous natural landscapes like the Vikos Gorge, Europe’s deepest, is immersed in lush natural beauty.
Don’t Miss: Go rafting in Voidomatis river or horseback riding in Megalo Papingo village, dine on hand-picked mushrooms in Vitsa and meditate on old arched stone bridges above tranquil waters.
Where: In the mountainous region between Ioannina and Arta.
Why: To reawaken your winter-dulled senses with incredible mountain views, fresh air and lush greenery.
Don’t Miss: Connect with local culture in the 47 picturesque and vibrant Tzoumerkohoria (villages), cross the Arachthos gorge (there’s a bridge!) hike along the Syrrako – Kalarrytes river path and see the Anemontrypa Cave, walk the Kouiassa Pouliana path and visit the the National Park of Tzoumerka where brown bears, wild goats, otters and deer live.
Where: In Central Macedonia, Northern Greece.
Why: Because this man-made lake is home to over 300 bird species, numerous other animals including free-roaming water buffalo, and 1300 plant species.
Where: Eastward of Peloponnese and southwest of Piraeus.
Why: Because you might just see 120 types of orchids in this lush, volcanic seaside haven.
Don’t Miss: The hot springs in the southeast seacoast of the peninsula, the ruins of the Acropolis of ancient Methana which dates to the 4th C B.C. and Steno, where you’ll see ruins of ancient walls built by the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War, and the pine-clad islet of Saint Theodoroi, which is connected to Methana town by a road.
In light of the devastating events currently occurring in Ukraine, Mèlisses in Andros has decided to donate 100 percent of proceeds from their pop-up dinner gathering on Saturday, May 28th, 2022 to support the #CookForUkraine movement, created to support the current humanitarian crisis faced in Ukraine.
Since this movement’s inception, hundreds of people from different backgrounds including top chefs, award-winning food writers, restaurant owners and home cooks have cooked and shared Ukrainian dishes at restaurants, gatherings and over the internet and through doing so are raising awareness and funds. Donations are being directed to UNICEF UK’s Ukraine appeal in support of families in Ukraine who have been displaced by the Russian invasion.
“Our team at Mèlisses is eager to join forces by becoming ambassadors and hosting a gathering in support of Ukraine from which 100% of proceeds will be donated to this movement,” announced the team.
Mèlisses has created a series of dinners that will highlight Andros and its producers and reflect seasonally available ingredients.
These gatherings take place in unique settings around this beautiful and diverse island, whether in the neoclassical home of a shipowner, on a sandy seaside beach, or in a secluded olive grove. The location of each dinner will not be disclosed until one day before the event.
The dinners will be hosted in collaboration with local and international personalities – artists, chefs, hosts and creatives, brought together to support a variety of charitable organisations.
“Our aim is to bring guests together over a shared meal to experience the true essence of Andros and to help support causes that are close to our hearts,” says the team.
More information and how to book can be found here.
The Shape of the Light Retreat at Mèlisses in Andros, allows guests to learn a new craft and engage with their artistic senses while overlooking Aegean sunsets with a glass of local wine.
October is a very special time of the year in Greece. It is the tail end of summer with sea waters at their warmest temperature and there is a sense of peace as the island slows down for its long-deserved break- making it the perfect period to enjoy this intimate workshop of marble sculpturing, storytelling, and photography.
Designed to engage primordial senses and create meditative space through the process of working with raw unpolished material- guests will simultaneously be able to document the whole process as well as the beautiful island of Andros through photography. This is in between exploring the island- providing guests with endless inspiration, whether on hikes through lush areas with breathtaking views of the sea, outings to beautiful villages, or simply sunbathing in the light of golden hour.
Guided by Swiss-born Tom, a professional sculptor and painter with an extensive connoisseur of natural stones- he will guide you through the process of marble sculpting. From mountain extraction to sculpting, students will learn about this ancient form of art and about the various sculpting techniques and tools. Each participant will get to practice these techniques and create their very own marble object to take home.
Lucy, a travel, fashion and lifestyle photographer devoted to working with natural light will introduce you to storytelling through photography and about the thoughtful curation of settings on the island to inspire and support your visual journey. She will share her photographic approach in a dynamic, versatile way through exploring the island and its locals and using various props and subjects.
What’s even more special is at the end of the week, all participants will be invited to join a pop-up dinner event hosted in a secret location on the island.
Andros’ Dew Retreat at Mèlisses, allows guests to take a break from everyday life to enjoy some peace and tranquility, blossoming flowers and delicious local food in the beautiful surroundings of the Aegean Sea.
Unwind, relax, create and engage your artistic senses on the Greek island of Andros this Spring with nourishing meals, local wines, morning swims, and lots of gorgeous flowers – that will leave you feeling energised and full of inspiration.
Andros is considered to be one of the greenest islands in Greece because of its abundant natural springs and small rivers, which weave their way through the verdant landscape. Spontaneous herbs and wildflowers grow abundantly in the surroundings, especially during Springtime when all flowers are in bloom and the whole of Andros is perfumed by wild thyme and lemon blossoms- making it the perfect spot for Andros’ Dew Retreat, which focuses on floral design and styling, as well as cooking.
Guided by flower guru Taylor Patterson, guests will learn all the basics of flower arranging and design, creating beautiful compositions for mixed arrangements. The small group will go foraging together, hunting for beautiful blossoms and foliage to be used in the arrangements, whilst trained chef Letitia Clark and founded and art director of Mèlisses, Allegra Pomilio will prepare a floral-inspired menu, incorporating fresh herbs and flowers into the creative dishes.
New York-based photographer Nicole Franzen will also be joining, documenting the whole experience and adding her special touch and sharp eye for beautiful detail.
Every day guests have a new chance to explore Andros’ most beautiful and unspoilt spots, gather around the table for beautiful flower-arranging classes and share bountiful meals together.
-6 days & 5 nights accommodation at Mèlisses;
-All meals during the workshop (5 dinners, 4 lunches, 5 breakfasts; aperitivos/snacks, drinks & refreshments);
-Cooking classes hosted by Allegra & Letitia, showing you how to incorporate spontaneous herbs and flowers into your menus;
-Flower arranging & styling classes hosted by Taylor Patterson.
-Getting to know and documenting locals and the island;
-Meals in a local taverna;
-All activities and excursions, including visits to the villages of Andros;
-Mèlisses full use of all its facilities;
-All transfers on the island to and from the house.
Mèlisses aims to honor and embrace the local flora and fauna. The house is located on the exclusive and majestic bay of Paleopoli where, underwater, you can still see ruins of the old city. The bay is opposite the extraordinary island of Ghiaros, which is considered legendary and protected for its marine wildlife.
The property is completely isolated, allowing for a peaceful getaway, with private access to the sea and a thriving vegetable garden. The property was designed and built by a talented team of designers and architects using local plants and rough stones to seamlessly blend built and wild environments. Mèlisses is surrounded by crystal waters and beautiful countryside, where wild figs and grapes grow uninhibited and it’s not uncommon to spot a donkey grazing on wild grass.
Inside Mèlisses, elegant interior design is crafted with a mixture of Hellenic antique furniture and a hint of Italian extravagance. Our outdoor seating area is designed to seduce all guests with its breathtaking sea view. Enjoy a swim in the crystal waters of the sea or in one of our natural seawater pools while relaxing under the pergola shade.
While Greece is world-renowned as one of the best places to spend summer, there is something quaint about visiting the Greek islands in the autumn months.
The crowds begin to subside by the end of October without ever really clearing completely as many locals live on the islands year-round. Temperatures drop to a balmy 15 degrees and the air begins to feel crisp, but hints of sunshine still touch the skin and occasionally temperatures rise to 25 degrees- making a swim in the beautiful Aegean Sea possible.
There are many Greek islands that “shut down” after peak summer to rest and rejuvenate before they do it all again the following year. However, the places we’ve listed below are destinations we’ve visited in the cooler months- with locals who keep their beautiful islands alive all year round and warmly welcome visitors to experience island life without the crowds.
Greece’s largest island boasts world-famous archaeological sites, breathtaking beaches, charming villages, world-famous hikes, and amazing wineries. The temperatures in Crete are never too cold, and the autumn days feel endless, with plenty of sunny afternoons allowing locals to head to the beach for a swim until the end of November. Make sure you check out the archaeological and historical sites including Knossos, Arkadi Monastery, and Preveli Monastery and it’s also an ideal time to stay at one of the many eco-lodges. A highlight by far is hiking at the famous Samaria Gorge and the delightful Cretan cuisine– make sure you try as many of the local dishes as possible and if you are brave enough have a few shots of Raki, which will definitely warm you up!
Port of Chania
The largest island of the Dodecanese, Rhodes boasts the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the medieval Old Town of the City of Rhodes, which has been declared a World Heritage Site. The medieval Old Town with its impressive castle and fortifications and cobbled streets is one of the most beautiful historic sites in Greece, and one that is best enjoyed out of peak season. Stunning Lindos has one of the best microclimates in the Mediterranean, so you are pretty much guaranteed a swim here in October and November. Make sure you also visit Petaloúdes (Butterfly Valley) one of Rhodes’ most popular attractions; the nature reserve combines stunning rivers and waterfalls with colourful butterflies. The cooler months are when Rhodes’ beautiful villages also come to life and it’s a great time to visit a few of them. Make sure you sit at one of the traditional cafes or tavernas with the locals and enjoy the island’s delightful cuisine.
Medieval Town of Rhodes
Corfu’s lovely capital is fast becoming one of Europe’s popular winter destinations. Its charming Venetian Old Town, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, is ideal in the wintertime- perfect for exploring the museums and markets. This is also a great chance to explore Liston, the “French” part of town- a pretty promenade whose arcade is lined with chic cafés, restaurants, and boutiques. Also, hit the hiking trails that wind through mountain villages- there are hundreds of paths and routes to try. And although Corfu is busiest during Easter and summer- Corfu Town is also a popular destination during the Christmas and New Year period, so there’s a great range of tavernas to discover as well as many events, art exhibitions, and festivals that take place at the end of the year.
An ideal Greek island year-round as it’s located just two hours from Athens, Andros is filled with lush vegetation, abundant water, and stunning beaches. The beautiful Cycladic isle owes its lush greenery to its rich underground and surface water resources. Autumn in Andros is perfect for those who want to experience the island’s rich culture and culinary experiences; as here you can taste traditional dishes and modern cuisine. Visit one of the many historic monasteries and churches, the amazing museums (Museum of Contemporary Art, Archaeological Museum, Nautical Museum, Cyclades Olive Museum, Goulandris Museum) and enjoy the endless nature and its hiking trails. Also make sure you head to the wonderful natural environment and the healing properties of the Sariza spring water.
Bisti Mansion in Andros
The Cyclades’ largest island offers a great range of outdoor activities in Autumn, including hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Numerous hiking trails and bicycle routes take visitors through some of the island’s and Cyclades’ most impressive archaeological and spiritual monuments including Mount Zas, the Cyclades’ tallest mountain peak; one of Greece’s largest collections of Byzantine monuments; the Temple of Demeter and more. Foodies are also in for a treat as you can check out the island’s vibrant farming and agricultural industry including potato picking, cheese making, citron liqueur distillation, and more.
Andros’ boutique guest house, Mèlisses has teamed up with local producers to create a series of gastronomic experiences that will showcase the alluring Cycladic isle in a unique and beautiful way; as guests will be treated to the freshest ingredients the island has to offer- in the most stunning of settings.
With the aim of bringing guests from different backgrounds together over a shared meal (to experience the true essence of Andros) dinners will take place at a range of remarkable spots around the charming and diverse island. This will include gatherings at a neoclassical home of a shipowner, a picturesque seaside dinner on a sandy beach, and a gathering at a secluded olive grove.
Images by @eventions_wedding
What’s even more special is that the location of each dinner will not be disclosed until one day before the event- so guests will be treated to surprise after surprise!
The dinners will be in collaboration with leading local and international chefs, who will highlight local ingredients and support its producers. In addition, 50% of proceeds will be donated to charitable organisations including Philanthropic Association of Apoikia and Andrion Club.
“We believe in supporting the island of Andros, as well as its local producers and communities,” says the Mèlisses team.
When asked what guests can expect, Allegra Pomilio, the outstanding host at Mèlisses, who warmly welcomes her guests and invites them to feel at home, told IN+SIGHTS GREECE, “We haven’t finalised the menu yet, but one thing I can reveal about the first event is that honey will be one of the key elements of our dishes.”
And without giving too much away, Allegra revealed that she and her talented team have been working on a few new dishes including a “Tart with Honey, Cardamom Pastry Cream and Fresh Fruits”; and a “Homemade Ravioli, filled with Honey Roasted Squash- served with Pistachio and Beurre Noisette Sauce”.
“The Hive” Dinner Saturday, 18th of September, 2021
The first pop-up event from the series will be a communal epicurean experience featuring a five-course dinner curated by the talented Mèlisses’ team. The meal will feature seasonal ingredients native to Andros, paired thoughtfully with Greek wines and spirits.
“Our first supper will be at the house of Mèlisses, our hive, where guests and friends alike gather.”
This beautiful B&B is a place where you can fully experience the character and charm of Andros island. Overlooking the Aegean Sea, Mèlisses is like a home away from home, as Allegra and her family beautifully transformed her family’s Greek residence into an enchanting place for visitors to stay.
The property features two double bedrooms with direct access to the large infinity pool, two suites, and a cottage with a private pool. All rooms overlook the Aegean Sea, while breakfast is served at the open kitchen in the main house, in front of the infinity saltwater pool- making it a memorable experience for guests.
For more details on The Hive Pop Up Dinners head to melissesandros
With a passion for fitness, playfulness and wellness and studies in Marketing Management, Vasilia Simou started her career in a top managerial role at a leading Health, Fitness and Wellness business.
In this position, she developed a deep understanding of the health and wellness world both as a business and for its importance in people’s daily lives. This led to her creating her own very popular holistic centre, called Life Blossom, in the northern suburb of Maroussi. Throughout the year (with a summer break) Life Blossom offers a broad and colourful array of classes by expert teachers, from African Dance and theatre for kids to pregnancy, Yoga and Pilates and much more. Now again facing lockdown, the classes are continuing online.
Interview by Alexia Amvrazi
What led you to create Life Blossom?
They say that if the book you’d like to read has not been written, you should write it yourself. This was my main principle in creating life Blossom, which is the space that I wanted to be in, relax, work out and meditate in. A space that is humble, minimal and yet soul-enriching, full of positive energy and warmth. A place that welcomes you with hugs and smiles, hot tea and healthy, homemade bites. Essentially a space where you can blossom into your true self.
Why did you feel it was important to have a space like this?
At Life Blossom, we believe that whatever we do and feel has a direct connection to our wellness. That’s why all the activities that take place there are aimed at improving or bolstering our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. We offer ways of dispelling stress and anxiety, aches and pains and other forms of dis-ease as well as bringing out people’s inner strengths and activating their innate healing mechanisms.
What kinds of classes does Life Blossom offer?
Right now it’s all about online…online, online. Of course, we prefer real and direct human connection but at least it’s a way for people to keep following their favourite classes and stay in tune with their health. We offer yoga, pilates, pregnancy yoga, music-movement classes yoga and dance for kids, meditation and more. We also organise creative workshops for kids, that include theatre games and performance among many other classes. Our site has all the details.
What are the practical challenges of running a space like this?
There are several challenges to managing a space of this kind. Firstly I need to seek out the best teachers who will suit the needs of our members. Then it’s a question of organising all the programme so that everything flows properly while remaining flexible to people’s needs and changes or other circumstances. And then I also have to manage the social media promotion of the space and all we offer. Not to mention keeping the space clean, lovely and well-maintained, preparing treats for our members and … well the list is endless!
How much do you believe Greece has ‘progressed’ in the field of holistic wellness?
As ancestors of the ancient Greeks it would be near impossible to not be loyal into the wisdom of holistic wellness. For the ancient Greeks ‘evzyn’ was of utmost importance and translated as the art of wellbeing. In modern Greece, holistic wellness has become increasingly important over the last few decades and more and more people are understanding its benefits. This has become evident in the huge increase of spa hotels and centres, wellness centres of various kinds, workshops, wellness retreats around the country, classes and health food stores and restaurants.
Where in Greece are your favourite places for healing energy & why?
Ideally, I choose to visit places where I can enjoy two forms of healing energy that are vital to me – walking in nature and hot springs. The Pozar Springs in northern Greece are one of my favourite destinations as are the hot springs of Aedipsos in Evia, and those in Kammena Vourla. The list is endless! Another place I love is Andros islands in the Cyclades, where I have a house, as there I can combine wonderfully scenic mountain hikes on awarded paths with lovely swims in the sea at its many beautiful beaches.
Born in the charming countryside of Abruzzo, Northern Italy, and raised to know and appreciate good food and wonderful hospitality, it’s only fitting that Allegra Pomilio, who considers Greece her home away from home, becomes the hostess with the mostess on the Cycladic island of Andros- creating beautiful and authentic experiences for her guests.
With a passion for gastronomy and a strong background in design and photography, Allegra followed her heart, turning her family residence in Andros, into a beautiful B&B overlooking the Aegean Sea. Her ability to create sensory storytelling through food and styling and connecting it with the Mediterranean way of life, has been the core ingredient in attracting hundreds of international guests here each year.
Every aspect of Mèllises is well thought out – from breakfast being served from the chic open plan kitchen area, to the large saltwater swimming pool with the sea as a backdrop, and the architectural work that has a deep respect for the landscape. The entire property is a slice of heaven- bringing together endearing elements of Greece, Italy and France.
Each object you find here has been hand-picked by Allegra and her mother, who spent endless hours sourcing vintage pieces during their travels around Europe. Every room is filled with Mediterranean splendour and a simplicity that is both warm and inviting.
During your stay at Mèllises, you will also be spoiled for choice by the homegrown varieties of fruit plants, local herbs and spices that enrich the property, which now also houses a small farm- with plenty more organic produce for guests to feast their eyes on.
IN+SIGHTS GREECE recently spoke with Allegra about dividing her time between Italy and Greece, and creating a work-life that “somehow has melted into one career after a lot of time, and doubtful moments. But life is all about courage, good ideas and hard work,” she says.
What was it like growing up on the beautiful countryside of Abruzzo?
I was the luckiest child in the world growing up in such a special place. Our house is nestled in the rural heart of our region, surrounded by medicinal plants and orange trees planted by my great grandfather Amedeo. He used the garden for all of his experiments, resulting in the creation of an orange liqueur called Aurum, still widely in use today and to me, one of the greatest reminders of my family when I’m far from home.
I remember spending so much time outside in the garden; climbing on trees, rescuing small animals and playing endless creative games. Sometimes I even imagined to be like my great grandfather Amedeo, creating some magic potions with whatever fruits and flowers I could gather around – I think that’s where my passion for cooking began.
What are your fondest memories of first visiting Greece?
I have endless memories from my early years in Italy but I have to admit that some of my most treasured moments were spent on my uncle’s sailing boat in Greece. My uncle Alberto is what we call a “lupo di mare” in Italian, or sea wolf. He’s a rather serious, introverted man, but with so much generosity and love for the water. He was and still is a great mentor to me.
Almost every summer, he would host me and my cousins on his boat and we would sail around Greece together. Life by the sea is not an easy one, there are many rules, but also so many incredible life experiences. Alberto taught us how to tie knots, sail, and how to cook in a 1×1 m kitchen. He also showed me how to fish, dive and simply enjoy life with the simplest things. I remember those days fondly- some of the greatest adventures of my life.
How did Andros become your second home?
We had been looking for a long time for a place in Greece, which has always been a second home to me and Andros was one of the luckiest encounters of my life. Everybody told us of how non-touristy, wild and secluded this island was, and we loved it immediately, especially because of those reasons. Mèlisses was true love at first sight, nothing else mattered. This place was the one!
Tell us more about Mèlisses- the concept and design.
Mèlisses is a home away from home, and that’s the real heart of our philosophy. Everything about the property is aimed at respecting and highlighting the surroundings of the island and the local flora/fauna. We wanted the house to almost disappear from human sight, yet create a small oasis by the sea. It was definitely a family project, we renovated and thought of every detail together. My mother and I are very passionate about antiques and flea markets, whereas my father is more conceptual and interested in the landscaping. It was a good combination of our visions.
Describe the layout of the property.
The whole house revolves around the kitchen living-room area, where we gather to have meals every morning and share thoughts/ideas but also beautiful discoveries of the day. The bedrooms are scattered around the property, some closer to the main house, others lower, closer to the sea. Everybody has their own private outdoor space and full access to all outdoor areas of the property, including access to the sea, or vegetable garden and henhouse.
What can guests expect from a stay at Mèlisses?
From extreme care in the interiors of the rooms to our supervision of activities or simply our local knowledge of restaurants, local makers and of course our breakfast, which is a really serious thing here at Mèlisses! Everything is homemade, from the bread to the granola, yoghurt or juices- freshness is the key. There’s no better way to start the day than having a good breakfast, followed by a swim in the sea below the property, one of the most pristine bays of the island.
Tell us about your popular workshops and retreats?
During our retreats, we try to highlight the island from a different perspective. Our retreats are small curated experiences that allow our guests to truly experience the authenticity of the island. Every day we arrange different activities, from cooking to hiking, or simply a lazy picnic by the beach, we love to surprise and spoil our visitors.
Do you combine Italian and Greek flavours for guests to try?
I definitely do. My food is a mixture of influences from Italian, Greek and French cuisines. I love to make fresh pastry stuffed with local Andros cheese, or simply play with lots of typical Italian and Greek recipes that are interpreted in a more modern and fresh way. My favourite recipes to cook are generally seasonal and rather fast to assemble. Lately, for breakfast I have been experimenting with tsoureki brioche, turning it into French toast or even tiramisu. I also make lots of savoury tarts using zucchini flowers and tomatoes from our garden. I also love a simple cold soup, like gazpacho, or corn with lots of crunchy herbs and spices.
What are a few of your favourite Italian and Greek herbs that you like using in your dishes?
I love basil, both Italian and Greek ones, but also wild thyme from Andros, and lemon geranium- it’s really delicious in granitas or blended in a juice. Bahari or Greek allspice was a revolution to me and I put it in all my stews now. I also love to make fried sage leaves, a classic Italian aperitivo dish that everybody loves here at Mèlisses.
What similarities do you find most striking between Greek and Italian food?
Simplicity is the key in both cuisines. A fresh salad, some grilled fish and a few fried zucchini slices. There are definitely many similarities between Italian and Greek foods and usually, the simplest recipes are the best ones.
What do you love most about your time on Andros island and what do you miss when you head back to Abruzzo?
I love the proximity to nature that I have here in Andros. Sometimes, in the city, I feel like it’s hard to breathe. Here I’m surrounded by water at all times, it is such a precious thing being able to jump into the sea any time I want. A swim can be incredibly therapeutic and it’s my favourite way to disconnect from work.
I also love the fact that even on the busiest days I can still find quiet space on the island all for myself. I know everybody here on Andros, it is all familiar and dear to me. I have friends that I miss very much when I leave.
How long do you spend in Andros each year?
I usually arrive in April and leave again around the end of October, the beginning of November. Approximately six to seven months.
And now you are also organising retreats in Abruzzo for 2021.
Yes, I will be organising four annual seasonal retreats in order for guests to discover Abruzzo in a different way. From wine tastings, truffle-hunting in the woods, or saffron harvest, to foraging and cooking classes, each experience will be one of a kind.
Living between Athens, Andros and New York, writer/sculptor Amalia Melis talks about her life as an artist in Greece.
By Amalia Melis
I have a vivid imagination. When I was a kid, I wanted to live on the bottom of a Spanish olive jar eating olives and drinking brine to survive. It’s true. I live in my head: I think more than I do on this earth at times. I still observe clouds and watch ants in the dirt.
I love to write. I have practiced almost every form of writing there is to earn a living in New York and in Athens. News reporting, features, essays, poems, short stories, speeches, ghostwriting. I always felt like an oddball and writing gave me voice: it allows me to role play without appearing anywhere in person. I have interviewed dictators, drug traffickers, award winning writers, for newspapers and magazines and found I can plow through any situation.
I grew up in a chaotic household in the Greek immigrant neighborhood of Astoria (New York) with my younger sister and two very hardworking parents who also made things in their spare time. My mom is a self-taught painter and my dad is a creative mad genius who makes things from nothing. His family films were entire productions and I was often his helper, so all this activity rubbed off on me.
Sculptures using discarded metal & wire
I started making assemblage sculptures about 10 years ago. I find discarded metal and wires thrown on the side of the street or near garbage cans and I drag them home to see what new life I can breathe into them. The assemblages I ‘ve been making are my three-dimensional stories. I am a hunter of many things; metal, wires, sea glass, sea pottery, rocks, whatever strikes my fancy.
I just listen to what comes out of me and go to what attracts me. I listen to what is happening in nature around me. I listen to what happens between people. I walk the path the energy around me takes me on. I feel like I am at the right place right now in my life because I see how connected everything and everyone is around me. Maybe it is how I best process and express pain.
When I write fiction I am sculpting a story that hides a real pain or truth. It has many layers and the more I work on it the more it takes on a life of its own. When I cover a news event as a reporter, I report the facts. I do not embellish.
Writing Studio in Andros
The Aegean Arts Circle writing workshops are my pride and joy. I created them when I needed a writing community. I was alone in a new country. I brought the talent to me and from the experiences in these workshops I flourished as a person and a writer. I was working on my first novel, which took years to write and finish and I was privy to stories emerging from other participants who came from all over the world to be part of these small annual groups in Andros. We have made friendships that span the seas. Many of us publish, work professionally as writers. I have published short stories, essays and poems many of which were worked on in the workshops.
Andros was the first exotic experience for me as a child. We visited my great grandmother, a grandmother, stone houses my parents and generations before them were born in. In Andros, all my senses opened. Lemon blossoms, dirt, chickens, fresh eggs, ballo dancing, violin and other traditional instruments, stories; piles of stories about the past- the seamen stories, island stories.
From that moment on I became a gatherer. I gathered these stories filled with failure, struggle, harsh conditions and I let them incubate inside me. I used them to write my own novel about three generations of women from a Greek island who search for home; to belong, to be.
Andros has had the luck to have the Goulandris Museums (archeological and contemporary ones) the Kydionefs Foundation and, Adamantia Art Space, a lovely gallery in Nimborio, among other spaces. I see as much as I can each summer on the island. I participated with my assemblages in several group shows in Apikia at Blue Enigma. Visitors should explore all art events organized in Andros. There is also hiking, roller blading, biking, skating, scuba diving, boating and more. They can come to write or swim and visit precious monasteries maintained for generations with great care. Andros is unfolding as an island. Just exploring the island gets us to explore ourselves.
*Collaborative artworks by Manos Adamakis and Amalia Melis, who are planning an exhibition of their works soon