Who doesn’t enjoy being pampered? Especially when it takes place in a stunning location where you can also enjoy the sea, luxurious amenities, beautiful sights, fine dining and customised services. Whether you’re planning to spoil yourself rotten or simply want to dream about it, here we’ve concocted a list of 2022’s Best Greek spas to visit.
Euphoria Retreat (Mystras)
Just the pool area of Euphoria, with a skylight, a light in the bottom, aquatic creature sounds when you dive under and numerous amazing massage jets in all of its corners is a great reason to visit Euphoria. Add to that four floors of spa therapy rooms offering everything from the hammam, a wide range of massages and floatation therapy, as well as a restaurant serving up truly healthy and delicious food, and you’ll understand why it’s rated so highly. Euphoria also collaborates with leading exercise and nutrition specialists to create a tailor-made diet and/or exercise programmes to meet your personal needs.
Amanzoe (Kranidi, Argolida)
Like all the Aman hotels around the world, Amanzoe lives up to high expectations by offering a soothing blend of understated, yet undeniable luxury combined with a scenic location and offering great spa services. Guests can try programmes like Detox & Cleansing, Mindfulness & Stress Management or Weight Management & Transformation or simply opt for individual (and individualized) treatments and therapies, as recommended by their in-house experts.
Out of the Blue, Capsis Elite Resort (Crete)
From sophisticated spa therapies for the face & body to well-run yoga retreats and special programmes designed to target your greatest detox, anti-ageing or weight-loss goals, this is a good place to experience innovative wellness. Combine your luxurious indoor or outdoor treatments with high-grade organic food and plush surroundings, including seven restaurants, a large beach and pool and many more large-resort perks, if that’s your kind of thing.
Pomegranate Wellness Spa (Halkidiki)
One of the best spa hotels in Halkidiki, the Pomegranate Spa combines modern, polished facilities with incredible sea views, well-reputed services and gourmet food made from local ingredients. It has an indoor pool, hammam, sauna and jacuzzis, and offers a range of beauty and relaxation treatments.
Canaves Oia (Santorini)
Located inside a natural cave and with a soothing, embryonic ambience, this spa with a sauna and both indoor and outdoor pools helps you combine your awe for Santorini’s most unforgettable views with deep, sophisticated pampering. Apart from several options for couples to enjoy together, the hotel offers therapies such as the Bali Paradise Rasul ceremony and numerous facials.
Andronis Concept Wellness Resort (Santorini)
Promising (and delivering) five-star personalized services combined with a picturesque location blessed with dizzyingly beautiful sunsets, Andronis’ Kallos Spa also doesn’t fail to please. Apart from several indulgent therapies, it offers the exclusive Hair Profiling Test, a unique screening programme supervised by Dr Zulia Frost that they claim provides a full wellness proﬁle following a “non-invasive bio-energy approach”. Using a strand of your hair and waiting 20 minutes, this spa promises its guests a full wellness proﬁle that comes with a nutritional and wellness programme.
Hippocrates, the father of ancient Greek medicine, whose knowledge was so way ahead of its time that we’re still startled by it today, strongly advocated the use of herbs for their remarkable curative purposes.
Throughout the millennia, Greeks have passed on this know-how from generation to generation and entrepreneurial modern Greeks continue to celebrate this ancient wisdom by successfully marketing delicious and sophisticated blends in Greece and worldwide. Here we offer you a warming mini guide of the best Greek herbal teas and their many health benefits for feel-good winter living.
Originating from Crete’s Mt Dikti, and also known as eronas, which means ‘youthful love’ because it’s said to have aphrodisiac qualities that make one feel young. Diktamo is a diuretic that’s high in antioxidants, and once boiled or steeped in hot water it releases oils thought to have potent antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. Traditionally, it’s made to relieve headaches, anxiety, indigestion, stomach cramps, bloating and fever. In folk medicine, its more medical uses included giving it to patients suffering from epilepsy, kidney and gall stones, rheumatism, for wound healing (as a tincture) and to bring on menstruation.
Believed to be a herb with holy properties by the ancient Greeks, and used even today to cleanse energy, this pungent tonic tea has powerful anti-microbial and antioxidant properties. Like rosemary, it’s thought to activate focus and memory, while its anti-inflammatory properties are also considered to help boost both mental clarity and physical balance. It is also rich in Vitamin K, which helps the body absorb calcium and thus to strengthen the bones.
Lemon Balm (Louisa) With a delicate lemony aroma, Louisa is a soothing and mood-lifting tea that came to the country in the 1700s and has been commonly grown in Greek gardens ever since. Often used alone or blended with chamomile to relieve indigestion, cramps and bloating, the herb is also considered a good friend to women because of its hormone-regulating elements. High in antioxidants, it’s ideal after a long hike (or workout) as it’s thought to help repair strained muscles.
Used by the ancient Greeks to make bridal wreaths because it represented joy, oregano is excellent for treating respiratory congestion when you’re bunged up with a cold because of its strong anti-microbial, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. It’s also wonderful for winter immunity because of its high levels of vitamin C and iron.
Linden Flowers (Tilio)
With an intoxicatingly sweet and soothing aroma, tilio flowers are thought to offer the human organism a loving hand during times of duress, as they are believed to relieve anxiety, melancholy and a racing mind, reducing blood pressure and quietening the heart. It is also high in phytonutrients, antioxidants and flavonoids, which help counter symptoms of the common cold, soothe sore throats and reduce mucus production.
With benefits that were lauded since antiquity, hamomili is often referred to as the golden flower because of its cure-all qualities. This is probably because chamomile has been scientifically shown to have components that are anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, anti-microbial, antioxidant, antibacterial and antiviral! The sweet-smelling little flower tea is most commonly thought to help encourage a good night’s sleep, stomach upsets, anxiety and slight fever, but it is also used to treat an irritated eye or skin (a cotton disc can be soaked in the tea and placed on the face or body).
Mountain Tea (Tsai tou Vounou)
Greek Mountain Tea is made using the dried leaves and flowers of Sideritis plants (ironwort). The tea made from Sideritis is credited with easing a wide range of physical ailments and is shown to have as many antioxidants as green tea. It’s also known to boost brain function, especially as prevention and even cure for Alzheimer’s.
Tip: Use any of the above herbs to make your own oil by packing a jar with the leaves or flowers and topping it with olive oil. Place the jar ideally in a spot that gets the sun and leave it for a month, occasionally giving the jar a shake. Then strain the oil and voila! The oil can be used in food, as aromatherapy or to treat skin conditions.
I live in the centre of Athens, and regardless of how much Lykavvitos’ greenery replenishes my spirit when gazing out at it every day, the air (and sound) pollution is an accumulative problem.
With autumn in the air, I’ve been fantasising about a holiday near the mountains, but my commitments are keeping me firmly rooted in urban existentialism. When I nagged a friend about this she suggested I try halotherapy in southern Athens. Does that entail becoming a saint and getting my own wreath of golden light? I asked. Not really. Halotherapy, a Greek-origin word based on the words halo or ialo for salt, and also known as salt therapy, involves sitting in a space made up completely of kinetically activated dry salt. The salt is usually mined from Poland and Kashmir, India from a depth of 350 metres underground, as well as from the Dead Sea. Apparently, just 45 minutes in a salt cave equates to three days of frolicking in a seaside paradise; health benefits include an uplifting disposition, detoxification of the respiratory system (the negative ions in salt have antimicrobial, anti-fungal and antibacterial qualities) and the regulation of the nervous and immune systems.
Seeking a good dose of physical-emotional seasoning I visited the Salt Cave in Glyfada to experience it for myself. I’m not one to skimp on therapeutic, hands-on treatment, especially when it comes at very reasonable prices, so I also booked a massage to boost the benefits. The manager informed me that many come here to just sit and breathe, while some come to meditate and attend popular yoga classes. Once a week, sound baths (with gongs and singing bowls) take place, and independent therapists periodically book the space for their own healing workshops.
The womb-like ‘cave’ is a room in which the ceiling, floors and walls are all completely covered in tons of salt, with a tranquillising soft pink-orange light glowing through. There are two fountains that create humidity (around 50-60%) and the temperature is at 22 degrees C, which feels neutral in winter and refreshing in summer. A skilled massage therapist helped me stretch and ‘open’ my tightly-wound body with a mix of traditional Thai massage and deep-muscle oil massage, followed by a facial that sent me into a deep sleep. I woke up feeling deeply renewed and was breathing more deeply, as lately. All the products she used included salt combined with oils, herbs and flowers with sweet aromas that enhanced the floaty feeling I walked out with. She told me that salt isn’t just detoxifying for the skin (and beneficial for conditions like eczema and psoriasis) but also makes it softer and soothes inflammations because it is so rich in minerals. Most people come here to relieve stress, although some people with more chronic conditions like insomnia, depression, digestive issues or a weak immune system have found that coming here has alleviated their symptoms.
I’ll be honest, as I approached the Salt Cave, located in Glyfada, I wasn’t sure what to expect; but I found the experience refreshing, unique (and it is the only one of its kind in Greece) and therapeutic, and recommend it – unless you suffer from kidney problems, are allergic to iodine or are undergoing chemotherapy. The service was friendly and I felt the benefits for at least a few days. This will definitely be on my stuck-in-the-city list of weird and wonderful places to go.
Fig is one of the most popular summer fruits in Greece and there is nothing better than eating a fig fresh off the tree. Not only are figs deliciously tasty, but they are also packed with vitamins and nutrients that are beneficial to our wellbeing.
And although we tend to associate figs with warmer months, the great news is we are also able to gain the benefits of figs throughout the entire year in their dried form.
History of Figs in Greece
Ancient Greeks believed figs symbolised prosperity and peace and were especially valued in the region of Attica. The ruler of Attica, Solon, also recognized the worth of the fig and even deemed it illegal to export figs outside of Greece in order to reserve the sweet fruits for the local population. Today, the region of Attica is still known for its fig cultivation, and Markopoulo Mesogaias is a town within the region that is most famous for its fresh figs. In Markopoulo, some royal fig varieties were given a protected geographical indication (PGI) in 1996 by the European Union.
Figs Produced in Greece
Cultivating figs since ancient times, Greece is one of the largest producers of figs in the world and grows these small fruits for both fresh consumption and dried use. They come in the form of dried figs, jams, and pastes. There are many different varieties of figs that are found under the Greek fig label, including Black figs, Royal figs, and Red figs- depending on the specific growing regions across Greece. Though Greek figs vary in colour, size, and flavour, they are all available locally and worldwide.
Benefits of Greek Dried Figs
Whether eating flavourful dried figs as a snack or adding it into your recipes, dried figs are an excellent source of dietary fibre, as they include essential minerals such as potassium, iron and calcium, and are rich in health-promoting antioxidants and complex carbohydrates. Greek figs can stimulate digestion and are a highly alkaline food, which helps balance pH levels within the body and also boost and strengthen the immune system.
Figs of Evia
Today Greek figs are widely cultivated across Greece- especially in the areas of Markopoulo, Kalamata and Evia. These delicious figs come from small family farms in the northern area of the island of Evia- a region that is famous for the quality of its figs. These moist and delicious fruits are organically farmed and naturally sun-dried. They are 100% organic with no additives or preservatives. What makes the dried Evia figs so special is the drying method- as the fresh figs are split in two before the exposure under the sun and are then brought back together to form the “askada” when dried.
If you are heading to Kos and looking for a unique beach experience that also offers therapeutic benefits, make sure to add the Therma Hot Springs to your list.
It should come as no surprise that Kos’ thermal springs have been well-known for their healing properties since antiquity- as it is, after all, the place where Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine was born.
Located at Agios Fokas, on the southeastern part of the island, about 12 kilometers from the centre of the capital, you will arrive at Therma (also known as Empros Thermi), the most popular thermal spring in Kos.
The location boasts raw, rustic, and beautiful scenery; and after a walk along the edge of a long beach filled with soft pebbles and a couple of old buildings, you will come across a small rock pool that invites people to dive straight in. Even though it’s really hot at first- especially when you initially step in- the best thing is to immerse yourself in the hot water and allow your body to relax and enjoy the experience. Keep in mind, seawater from the beach flows through the small pool and cools the therapeutic springs- creating a soothing feeling.
Facts about Therma Springs
The water originates from a hot spring in the mountains and flows down to meet the ocean at the natural sea pool. You can’t miss the Therma Springs as there are large stones surrounding the small pool that’s right next to the beach. As the hot water mixes with the seawater, it creates a lovely, relaxing bath and the amount of time you spend in there is entirely up to you, although it is said that you shouldn’t stay in for longer than 35 minutes at a time- as the water temperature ranges between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius year-round, providing a natural spa experience for those game enough to jump in.
As the water originates from the mountain, it’s rich in many minerals including sulfur (the distinct smell is clearly identifiable), calcium, potassium, chloride, and magnesium. These minerals are said to provide therapeutic relief to those with ailments and muscular aches and pains. The spring waters are also considered to help those with skin and respiratory conditions.
While many visitors head to Therma for the hot springs, the beach is also worth the visit. Unlike other Greek beaches that are known for their turquoise clear waters and soft sand- Therma Beach is covered with smooth pebbles and rock formations, which also makes for a wonderful foot massage. After a relaxing bath in the hot springs, it’s great to have a swim on the beach, where parts of the water are also warm. If you are there during peak season, you will also find massage therapists who offer a range of treatments at the beach.
Tips before arriving
– The Therma Springs are free of charge.
– It’s an unorganised beach with no umbrellas, toilets, or change rooms.
– As you start walking down, you will come across a cafe right at the top; they offer a light lunch menu, drinks, ice cream, and other snacks.
– To get to the hot springs you need to walk down a steep cliff, it’s a safe walk however it can be difficult to walk back up if you have young children with you. Make sure you are prepared with water, hats, snacks, sun umbrellas and wear comfortable shoes.
Agios Fokas beach is 12 kilometres east of Kos Town and the best way to get there is by car. You can leave your vehicle at the parking and walk down the dirt road (takes around ten minutes). You can also catch a taxi or arrive by bus (which regularly depart from the centre of town).
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.
Athens-based fitness coach Aggeliki Koutelekou’s love of sports began at the young age of four and since then the talented athlete has competed in local and international championships where she has represented Greece on numerous occasions.
Today, the stunning 28-year-old is a physical education teacher, a personal trainer, a running coach, and an ambassador for adidas GR. Born and raised in the Greek capital, with her family hailing from Panagia, a remote village in Trikalon, Aggeliki recently spoke with IN+SIGHTS GREECE about her passion for inspiring people to keep fit; shares her tips on working out at home, and reveals her love of travelling around her homeland.
When did your passion for fitness begin?
I started playing sports at the age of four, beginning with swimming. Then I was involved in athletics for about 10 years. The stadium became my second home, as I spent much of my daily life there. Very quickly my training became an addiction leading me to local and international championships. As the years went by, my passion continued and I decided to get involved professionally.
When did you start competing?
From a young age, I remember myself running non-stop! I started at the age of eight in the track and field academies. Sprinting won me over from the first moment I set foot on the track. So, inevitably, it became my race! I participated in many pan-Hellenic track and field championships and in international meetings with distinctions in the 100m race.
Tell us about your work as a coach and fitness trainer?
I graduated from the Department of Science and Physical Education and Sports at Trikala with a major in classical sports. I mainly focus on training ́groups and individuals. Since 2016 I have also been a PE teacher at a private elementary school.
You have also become an ambassador for adidas?
Yes, for the last three years I’ve been an ambassador of adidas GR and I work with adidas runners Athens as a coach. It’s the largest global running community that brings together people with common goals and a passion for running. We gather every week in the centre of Athens, doing different types of training each time.
How passionate are you about inspiring people to keep fit?
The benefits of sports are endless, both in terms of our health and our psychology. What I love most about my job is the opportunity to encourage and inspire my young athletes to recognise the importance of sports and to love it. As for the fitness part, I feel joy and satisfaction when my clients, who had no contact with exercise beforehand, have now made it a way of life. I get excited when I see them feeling better at the end of training.
How do you motivate your clients?
My motto is: “wherever you are, you can exercise”. No special equipment and space are required. With the will and the right guidance, you can do a complete workout anywhere! The first lesson and meeting with my client are to get an understanding of their lifestyle. To work out what they need and to see what they are physically capable of, and of course to take into account any injuries that they may have. Each of us is different and that’s how I treat my clients. With the right ‘individual’ approach, I encourage them, motivate them, and try to gain their trust.
Do you think social media has influenced the fitness industry?
Social media in general, and, mostly Instagram in recent years is a medium where you can source anything you want. The immediacy offered by a nice image or a video with a nice background I think can definitely gain attention. I put a lot of emphasis on my posts with both the images and the videos I choose to publish. I believe that aesthetics, colour, and quality are elements with which one can stand out in the hundreds of thousands of profiles that circulate. Both through the photos and the creation of videos, which I have my own personal touch, I try to attract and inspire more and more people to engage in fitness!
How often do you train a week?
I run three times a week with the adidas runners Athens and I do full-body training two to three times a week depending on the free time I have.
Do you follow a Mediterranean diet?
Yes, I mainly follow the Mediterranean diet. During the week and training days, I mainly eat protein, legumes, carbohydrates, fruit, and vegetables. Of course, to be honest, I have a weakness for traditional homemade Greek dishes such as Mosxari Kokkinisto me Kritharaki (beef with orzo) and meatballs with mashed potato.
What Greek sweets do you crave most?
I have so many favourites I can’t resist! A warm Galaktoboureko, one or two Melomakarona, and also homemade Koulourakia with a Greek coffee.
How can we stay positive and fit throughout the cooler months, when it’s sometimes harder to find motivation?
Home confinement definitely throws us off psychologically and can affect us negatively. One way that helps us stay optimistic, physically, and mentally is exercise. This increases endorphin levels and secretes hormones that make us feel happy and positive. However, sometimes we have no choice, and staying at home does not mean that we can not stay in shape. By following easy and short fitness programs, we can exercise our whole body and feel better.
What are some simple exercises for home?
It is always best to consult a professional who can guide you and create personalised exercise programs, as each of us is different. Some very basic tips for a good general workout is a warm-up to start off with- this is a prerequisite for starting any workout. Begin with some aerobic exercises (jumping jacks, high knees, scissors, running on the spot) in order to prepare for the main part. Then choose easy exercises (not complicated to start off with) that will work your whole body such as squats, push-ups, sit-ups, and our favourite planks. At the end of each workout do not skip the stretching. Always choose to do exercises that are not particularly difficult for you. One piece of advice I always give to my clients is to listen to your body and don’t overdo it.
On another, you also have a passion for photography, can you please tell us about that?
I love the arts and I’m fascinated by everything related to it. Many times I look at something and I have already created the frame in my mind. Through photography, I express and capture what I see with my own eyes. I have a passion for symmetry, simplicity, old buildings, and objects. I recently bought a camera to capture the moments and I now share them.
What are some of your favourite holiday destinations in Greece?
I’m lucky to live in Greece, a place that combines unique landscapes with natural beauty. I love summers on the Cycladic islands with whitewashed houses, the endless blue sky, and the countless beaches. But I also enjoy the winter destinations, where I can get closer to nature, walk on trails, and dance at traditional festivals. The places that first come to mind are Kythnos, Zagorochoria, and, of course, my home village of Panagia in Trikala.
A few of your favourite summer activities- where you can combine fitness with the Greek sun and sea?
I love swimming in the sea, running along the beach during sunset, paddleboarding, and playing raketes.
Your all-time favourite beaches in Greece?
That’s a hard one as there are so many beautiful ones in Greece. Some of my most loved are Simos in Elafoniso, Lagousi in Kithnos, Plaka in Naxos and Falasarna in Crete.
What do you love most about Trikala and what do you recommend for anyone planning to visit?
My grandmother lives in the village and every time I go, she greets me with a traditional local pie. If you are in the wider area, do not forget to walk on the river of Trikala, to explore the city by bike, to organise short hiking or climbing trips to Meteora and, of course, to visit traditional taverns and grocery stores or in the surrounding villages where you can try local delicacies.
Finally, do you offer online training and how can people get in touch with you?
I have clients who now live abroad so I started online training, in order to stay close to my existing clients and also to offer training to people who do not live in Athens. I offer personalised online training tailored to personal needs. To contact me and learn more, you can visit my page on Instagram @aggeliki_koutelekou or Facebook.
OLEOSOPHIA is the result of a love story between a young Greek couple who turned the Ancient Greek tradition of olive harvesting into a modern family business that is being widely recognised and praised as one of the best and healthiest in the world.
Launched in 2018 in the village of Kalentzi, by Marianna Devetzoglou and Aris Magginas, this Corinthian extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants and was recently awarded for its wellbeing content by the World Olive Centre for Health.
Ensuring consistency in quality, flavour, and aroma, OLEOSOPHIA is a limited edition product as the quantities depend on each year’s yield.
The brand’s vision is to promote the philosophy of extra virgin olive oil while sharing the values and ethos of their land. With a mission to inspire people to add this unique and healthy liquid gold into their everyday life- the small and talented team consists of young individuals of different backgrounds who love their country and its produce.
We recently had a chat with co-founder and Olive Oil Sommelier Marianna Devetzoglou about her family business, which is growing rapidly by the day.
Tell us about your olive oil brand. How did it all begin?
It all started when my husband George and I met – two people from different backgrounds who fell in love. We used to attend events and walk together through the olive trees, discussing ideas and future plans. OLEOSOPHIA started shortly after our love story blossomed with the aim of communicating our ethos, our values, and our vision to the world. OLEOSOPHIA represents the wisdom of olive oil, the unification of two families, and their traditions. We are happy to share this love for extra virgin olive oil with people, exchange ideas, and form solid partnerships around the world.
Tell us more about your upbringing and how that helped you launch OLEOSOPHIA?
George and I grew up in very different families. George comes from an agricultural family in the village of Kalentzi, Peloponnese, whose activities involved cultivating olive trees, table grapes, and apricots. He then studied IT at the Polytechnic University and got an MBA degree, before setting out on his IT career while helping his family. I, on the other hand, was born and raised in Athens, away from nature and in an urban family. I studied Physics and Materials Science in Athens and London before coming back to Greece. When we met, we enjoyed long hours of talking about new ventures, while our romance grew. Despite the different backgrounds, we shared the same passion – sharing our dreams and values with people, contributing to life changing experiences. There, under the olive trees, OLEOSOPHIA was born as a manifestation of our common passion: to create a point of reference where people can learn, enjoy, participate and get to know the local culture, the local olive variety, build a health-oriented mentality, experience artisan products and create long-lasting friendships.
What is the history behind your olive grove in Corinth?
My in-laws family live in the village of Kalentzi, which is located at the base of Mt. Fokas (in the Corinthian area), the mountain where the Lion of Nemea was born, according to legend. For three generations, the family has been cultivating olive trees, table grapes, and apricots.
Blessed with a strategically mild microclimate and fertile land, the area offers a variety of products with excellent quality and authentic taste. OLEOSOPHIA is our family’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil, produced by handpicked olives from our family grove, ensuring consistency in quality, flavour, and aroma. This tradition and experience has been passed on from generation to generation and is an integral part of our identity. Now, the new generation, young brothers and sisters have spread their wings, built their education in different sectors – chemistry, physics, and engineering, and have returned to their roots to build a new era for the family – with ethos, persistence, honesty, and integrity. Our olive grove is our sacred family heirloom, where we work hard to produce our awarded monovarietal extra virgin olive oil of the Manaki variety. It is also open to visitors to learn, explore, share and experience the magic of olive oil through olive grove tours and olive oil tasting events under the trees.
Tell us about your varieties?
In our olive grove of approximately 4,000 olive trees, we cultivate and produce monovarietal, first harvest Manaki Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which is health claim certified and represents our local variety, with a well-balanced, smooth sensory profile whilst we also produce Manaki/Megariti extra virgin olive oil variety combined with a playful twist. As olive oil production has been running in the family for more than three generations, we have improved and optimised our agricultural practices in order to achieve higher quality and showcase the beautiful variety of Manaki. We bottle in luxury bottles of 500mL and 250mL which are ideal for everyday use as well as for corporate or personal gifts.
What do you think makes your business so successful?
We are a team of young people with different backgrounds and this is what makes us so strong. The team consists of Aris, Marianna, and Myrto. Aris is responsible for the cultivation. He is very knowledgeable, takes great care of the trees, and makes sure to keep them healthy and happy in order for them to give us their best fruit every year. I am the Olive Oil Sommelier, responsible for networking, PR, exports/sales, and of course, our olive oil tours and olive oil tasting events. I’m very active through education seminars to both consumers and professionals, while being the contact point between the family and our partners. Myrto is our Quality Advisor – coming from a chemistry background, she is the go-to person for all the necessary, quality-related processes, organisation advice, and science. The three of us complement each other, each building on each other’s strengths and weaknesses, creating a productive, well-balanced result.
What makes Greek olive oil so healthy?
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – the highest grade of olive oil – is the healthiest one can possibly consume, rich in healthy fats and antioxidants that have demonstrated to contribute against a number of changes our body undergoes. Moreover, it is a natural juice that comes directly from the pressing of the olive fruit. Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil, in particular, is healthy and rich in different sensory profiles because of the many different olive varieties found in Greece. As a result, the consumer can enjoy all the health benefits and experience authentic flavours that depict the local microclimate and flora of each region.
What makes your olive oil so unique?
A number of reasons make OLEOSOPHIA special. The Manaki variety that we cultivate in our family olive grove is a sensitive variety that is mainly used for the production of high quality, high-end extra virgin olive oil. The variety is found only in two areas in Greece and is not cultivated in other countries, making the experience of OLEOSOPHIA an authentic one, one you may explore when travelling in our region. Moreover, OLEOSOPHIA monovarietal extra virgin olive oil holds a Health Claim certificate for its phenolic content – this means that consumers may use OLEOSOPHIA as a health supplement, not just as a tasty ingredient in their everyday cooking. Both, our monovarietal and our varietal combinations have been awarded a GREAT TASTE AWARDS 2020, one of the most prestigious food competitions globally. Finally, OLEOSOPHIA is not just a product – partners and consumers can enjoy this unique variety, participate in our online workshops and also, visit our olive grove to experience olive oil tours, olive oil tasting, and food pairing guided by our Olive Oil Sommelier. Our vision is to create a community of Oleosophers and let people enjoy it, learn about our ethos and olive oil culture, and become part of our family.
Tell us about your awards and accolades?
Our family is constantly working hard to ensure high-quality extra virgin olive oil in order to enjoy the health benefits and unique flavour of our Manaki variety. Our hard work has been rewarded with an OLYMPIA AWARD 2020 for OLEOSOPHIA’s Monovarietal Manaki Health Claim and phenolic content while we have also won our GREAT TASTE AWARD 2020 for both our monovarietal and our variety combination with very positive comments by the judges.
Where is your oil stocked and do you ship internationally?
In our village, Kalentzi, and near our olive grove, we stock our olive oil in stainless steel containers, in dark, cool places as per the appropriate specifications of olive oil maintenance. Internationally, we have been working with a number of high-end, fine food shops globally that address a demanding audience that seeks healthy, authentic, and original products. Our partners are located in the EU (France, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Sweden), USA, and Australia while we keep growing our network through product collaborations, article contributions, olive oil tasting events, and training workshops.
Are you working on any new projects and what is your long-term vision?
Every year we work hard to improve our products and our methods, simultaneously improving ourselves with respect to our land and its value. We continue working on our product range that will eventually include not only extra virgin olive oil but also olive oil-based cosmetics, herbs, and table olives. Our vision is to communicate our philosophy of life and of extra virgin olive oil while sharing the values and ethos of our land and family. We aim to become a reference point for excellent quality manaki extra virgin olive oil, olive oil tastings and tours, education workshops and to make our local variety known across our network of partners and community of Oleosophers.
You also offer olive oil tours.
Yes. Seeking to communicate our family values and mentality, we host olive oil tours and tasting sessions in our olive grove as part of the OLEOSOPHIA experience. Visitors have the opportunity to walk through the olive grove, learn about the olive trees and the manaki variety specifically, and explore the authentic flavour by experiencing olive oil tasting sessions under the olive trees. We book small groups to ensure a better experience and guide them through the lifecycle of olive oil. We discuss with them the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil, its role in the Mediterranean Diet, ways to make it part of their daily gastronomy, and why it is more of health investment, rather than simply a tasty ingredient. Moreover, visitors can learn which are the positive attributes of extra virgin olive oil, which are the defects, and how to identify them when seeking to purchase olive oil for their friends and family. This is a unique experience, one that enables people to explore new flavours and aromas, live a local, authentic experience and way of life, participate in the evaluation of olive oil and learn how to make well-informed decisions about their health. The tours run all year round, based on bookings, and with a special emphasis in the spring-summer season. We are always happy to welcome visitors, get to know them, educate them, share our values, and make long-lasting friendships with people from around the world and from different backgrounds.
By today, paximadi rusks are produced and enjoyed throughout the country and come in many sizes, shapes (and prices) and with varying flavourings. It’s now even used in powdered form to flavour dishes at gourmet restaurants. Basically, the humble paximadi, with its millennia-long history, has come a long way!
The paximadi was once a daily staple food for farmers, seamen and labourers, whose wives baked 2-3 days-old stale bread to harden and preserve it. In older times it represented both hardship and the solution to hardship and was used in trade deals alongside coins and preserved meat during the Venetian occupation periods in Greece because of its durability and sustenance.
In Crete, the dakos rusk is traditionally made with barley or wheat and used as the base of the by now famous dakos salad, served at almost every modern Greek taverna. The large, rock-hard Cretan dakos are briefly soaked in water to soften before being topped with tomatoes, goat’s cheese, sliced onions and a healthy dollop of rich extra virgin olive oil.
For decades, barley rusks are widely produced in Mykonos, Kythnos, Paros and other islands. In Santorini and Anafi they are sometimes flavoured with saffron, while in Kalymnos the round rusks called mirmizeli are flavoured with anise and cumin. In Kythera they are rich in olive oil and in Lefkada they’re more slender slices and flavoured with fennel seeds, clove and cumin.
Why it’s better than bread
Regardless of what type you use, Paximadi adds a crunchy, grounding texture and flavour to all kinds of dishes – as crouton-style bites in salads, soups, stews or ladera dishes; as a base for scooping up dips like taramosalata and melitzanosalata; as a base for toppings like soft cheeses, olive paste, chutneys and more. The added bonus is that it offers plenty of health benefits too.
It’s safe to say that the darker and denser the rusk appears, the higher it will be in nutritive value. White-flour rusks may be made with olive oil or no salt, but will still be lower in fibre, which is one of the paximadis’ greatest attributes. Generally aim for the 100% barley or whole-wheat and /or carob rusks if you want to reap the most health benefits, which include the following: B vitamins (especially B1 and B6), folic acid, iron, magnesium and high fibre. Carob rusks also contain vitamins A, C and D.
What’s in a name?
Known as “dipiritis artos” – or twice-baked bread, rusks have been a staple part of the Greek diet since ancient times. Meanwhile its current name ‘paximadi’ is said to come from the name of a gastronomy expert and writer, Paxamos, who lived in Rome. In his book Siren Feasts Andrew Dalby writes that the work paximadi was later morphed into the Arabic bashmat or basquimat, Turkish beksemad, Serb-Croatian peksimet, Romanian pesmet and Venetian pasimata.
My favourite rusk by far: To Paximadi Tis Katohis. For hard-core paximadi-lovers, this highly nutritive, organic rusk’s name ‘the rusk of the occupation’ says it all. It contains 70%, barley flour, carob flour, oat flour, sourdough and olive oil.
Cough, sneeze, splutter. Beyond Covid anxiety we always have and always will come down with flus and colds during the colder months. Here are some remedial indigenous herbs to use for ultimate natural healing.
Boil a pot of water, add herbs and brew. Create a magical healing potion made from some of nature’s best ingredients just like our ancestors have done around the world for thousands of years, in Grece, China, India, Africa and beyond. Herbs are wonderfully restorative to drink when we are feeling at our worst, and can also be used for their curative elements for steam-breathing, compresses and to season food. Here we selected the herbs and roots that are considered to offer the most potent healing effects for colds, flus, cramps, lethargy that can come from Seasonal Affective Disorder in winter and even recipes for boosting the immune system.
Herbs To Help Battle Cold & Flu Symptoms
It looks a bit like wild thyme because of its small, prickly leaves and pink or purple flowers but it smells more like mint, which is the family it belongs to. Apart from iots antispasmodic and diuretic properties, fliskouni is also excellent for treating respiratory ailments like brionchial symptoms, throat ache, congestion, coughs and asthma. Meanwhile it’s also considered to be a good tonic for the heart and has a mild and pleasant sedative effect. Great for drinking or steam-breathing (placing the herb in a bowl of boiled water and deeply inhaling the steam).
Licorice – Glykoriza
Licorice root, which looks like a small twig, can be chewed and sucked or even steeped (for at least 20 minutes) or boiled (for at least five minutes). It has been used as a treatment for respiratory ailments (especially congestion of the chest, or asthma) for over 4000 years. It’s also effective in alleviating stomach acidity or nausea and stomach aches, and at the same time it is thought to be a mood-lifting herb that especially works for tackling melancholic moods. Modern science has shown that liquorice has an anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic action and contains a compound called glycyrrhizin (as its Greek name – glykoriza suggests), which has strong antiviral properties.
Great in your Greek salad or tomato sauce, when steeped for around 20 minutes or even longer oregano releases antioxidant-rich oils that have a strong antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic effect. It’s especially good for alleviating respiratory ailments and congestion, while it’s also considered to be a blood-cleanser and a digestive tonic. Drink it as a tea in a small cup up to three times a day when you have a cold, or use in steam-breathing.
The Herb of Aphrodite, as it was known in classical Greece, was also used by the Spartans, who rubbed its puungent leaves into their chests, as a pre-battle pep to help them breathe deeply and fight strongly. High in Vitamins A, K & C as well as iron and calcium, thyme is a good ally to the immune-system as well as a direct warrior herb for fighting your cold or flu symptoms. Drink it or steam-breathe it to alleviate a sore throat or chesty cough, nasal congestion and a crampy stomach.