Noble Chios

Resin drop from a mastica tree. It has a very special aroma and many healing properties.Last to be discovered, is it kills the stomach ulcer virus.
Not all Greek islands are the much publicized combination of whitewashed houses ,barren hills and bright blue seas. This is the Cyclades signature. To the East of the Aegean ,near the western coast of Turkey,lies Chios, one of the large "aristocratic" islands (along with Lesvos and Samos).
In contrast to the Cyclades, these islands are green and fertile,with numerous villages and a distinct architectural style,resembling in many cases Tuscany in Italy. People here grew rich through the ages by sea trade and by the unique product of mastic.

Kampos,near the city of Chios,is the place where the wealthy had their summer homes and their orchards. Many of the beautiful houses are now small, cosy hotels.
I first visited Chios in the 80s, to baptize the daughter of a friend. Yeh! I became a godmother! All I remember is walking through the city of Chios and having to drink a shot of cognac and/or raki with EVERY member of my friends extended family. After the second shot I was in a zombie state (the "kerasma",the offer of drink and/or food, starts early in the morning *hic* and goes on until late in the night FOR DAYS *hic* )
Four years ago I returned with my husband determined to see all that I missed before.We chose to stay on the west side of the island,where the pines reach the sea-the eastern part is more bare and more populated.

View from our room in Volissos towards the west and the sea.
The village we chose as a base is Volissos,perched safely behind a couple of green hills. From there we covered the whole west of the island, from the almost deserted little villages on the wild north to the wealthy medieval Masticochoria in the south.  
Chios is an island where a car or a motorcycle are a must. There is so much to see, I wouldn't advise just relaxing for days on a beach...although it is a really good idea and Chios has plenty of  beautiful beaches.

All the west part of the island is carved with one beach after the other. Don't expect umbrellas and soft drinks in most of them,but I'm happy to report also that there are some really good beach bars in the area ;) On the other hand, if you love having a whole stretch of sand and sea to yourself, you are in the right place.

Chios city,where the ship from Pireaus docks, is bursting with life. Countless places to stay or eat,cafeterias and Internet cafes,cars and shops and all that...
A short drive from there are the quite seaside tavernas...and yes,on the top right of the picture are octopus legs drying in the sun!! They will be later barbecued on coals and served with olive oil,vinegar and oregano.
Chio's ouzo and "spoonful sweets" are famous and delicious!! The housewives of Chios are reputed to be exceptionally skilled in making preserves and various kinds of sweets with an elegant Eastern influence. They specialize in the really challenging achievement of making sweet preserve from lemon tree blossoms,without the blossoms disintergrating in the syrop.

As in many other parts of Greece, Chios passed from one overlord to the other. Romans,Byzantines,Italians from Genova,Ottoman Turks all left influences,temples,castles,mansions and fortified villages. Chios is one of the parts of Greece claiming to be Homer's birth place. And to be honest it is most propable that the blind bard was really born there.
Taking the inland roads,there are various old villages with stone houses and little churches,like Avgonima. The local taverna has excellent food and breathtaking views.

Starting from the center of the island towards the South are the famous Mastica-villages,the only place where the mastica trees produce resin. Before expertly "wounding" the bark of the trees, the ground is meticulously cleared and prepared with a special white powder. 
Mastica tree's resin is used in medicine,cosmetics and cooking. Chios is the only place in the world  Pistacea Lentiscus produces resin. Greeks,Romans,Genovese and Ottomans gave Chios inhabitants special tax privileges to insure their mastica supplies.

The 22 mastica-villages are some distance from the sea to be safe from invading looters. Some are build to withstand pirate attacks,as the whole Mediteranean had been ravaged by pirates for centuries!!! Most beautiful of these villages are Mesta, the medieval and Pyrgi, the painted one, where all the houses are white with grey patterns. 
The narrow streets are cool during the mid-day heat and the coffee in the small shops is excellent.

Chios is for everyone.Families,couples,groups of friends,or single travelers looking for adventure in a serene and hospitable place. There is much to see around. 
It is easily accessible from Athens both by plane and by boat. 
If you happen to be there during the Spring and Easter holidays,you are in for a treat...or a scare! :0

What??Who are these invaders?? To arms....errrmmm...horns ,mates!!!

After hours of site seeing a nap under the protection of the pine tree is a blessing ;]


  1. It looks a wonderful place, your photos are great! I agree with you, some of the villages have an almost Italian look about them, I think I would enjoy a peaceful holiday there. Thanks for sharing :) x

  2. Καλησπέρα, καλησπέρα! Χτυπάω την πόρτα και μπαίνω με το δεξί, εύχομαι καλοτάξιδο πολλές επιτυχίες και προσφέρω για το καλό γλυκό περγαμόντο από τα χεράκια μου! Έκανα μια μικρή περιήγηση, τι μικρή δηλαδή, διάβασα τις μισές αναρτήσεις, θαύμασα τόσο την εξαιρετικά καλαίσθητη γωνιά που δημιουργήσατε εξαδέρφη του Παναθήναιου, όσο και την απολαυστική γραφή σας! Εὖγε και πάλι εὖγε!!!

  3. Ok, I have a confession. *hangs head*
    After I read your post, I yelled, "I LOVE DESI!!! She opens my eyes to so many things I knew nothing about!!" :D

    Thank you for giving me a tour of Chios! Now I want to go! :D BTW did you take that wonderful image of the resin drop? It's just lovely!

    Chios looks like such a beautiful town and so interesting too. I really liked the artistic walls on the buildings that you showed. I think my mother would have said, "Oh, that looks like something I can incorporate into a quilt!"

    QUESTION: Ok, I saw the last image about the nap and stuff...is that YOU? And....is that your helmet? Are you and your husband motorcycle riders? Oh, and did you know that Steve has a BMW motorcycle and a Yamaha V-Star?! We have had dreams of getting a BMW touring motorcycle!

    By the way, I really enjoyed the images! I think I should be able to clap my hands and BE THERE! :)

  4. Thank you,Poppy :] I'm happy when somene like you shares my travels x
    As for the Tuskany look,I guess it is an influence from the time (1298-1566)when Chios had been ruled by the city-state of Gevoa in Italy.

  5. *bounces happily around
    *steps on Melpo's tail
    *gets a nic scrach
    Thanks! I have to admit the masica drop picture is from the Cooperation of Mastica Producers site. The trees get "wounded" late July to early September,so we were too early for the collection of mastica.
    And,yes, that; me after 4 straight hours on the schooter lol It i our former moto,now we have a bit bigger one. Motos are ideal both for Athens -never get stuck in traffic jams-and for the islands!!
    But every year my back protests more and more after the first 2 hours...I think I'm getting too old for this.My husband on the other hand,is soooo happy with his moto, I try not to whine too much lol

  6. PS
    I forgot my glasses in my cousin's home last night, so I'm typing almost blindly....sorry for the typing errors :]

  7. Καλώς μας ορίσατε,Ρούλα!!Τα καλα λόγια και το περγαμόντο,βάλσμαο για την ψυχη και το σώμα:]]
    Χαρα μας να λαμπρύνετε με την παρουσία σας την βεράντα/blog μας...
    Περάστε, να φέρω μιά καρέκλα ακόμα,κατω από την μπανανιά ,γιατι καίει ο ήλιος σήμερα.Να κεράσω "υποβρυχιο"; καφεδάκι; μια παγωμενη λεμονάδα;

  8. Such a cute image of you snoozing! Yeah scooters are so convenient--I had one years ago but since I met Steve, I like to be a passenger! We get sore backs too, you aren't alone!

  9. BTW, I read your post to Steve and showed him the pictures. He thought you did a wonderful job and now he would like to visit too! :)

  10. My beautiful Chios! No where else do I feel so relaxed and at peace! Thank you again for this great presentation of this unique island. Not only do we have the unique mastica but also unique orchids that grow no where else in the world along with many native plant species only found on the islnad....but shhhhhhhhhh this is Chios' best kept secret!!

    I'm from Kardamyla [North Chios] and Oinousses [Neighbouring Island just off Chios] but I always stay in Kardamyla for the summer. My one dislike is all the Americans who come and destroy the tranquillity of the place, such irritating people and some locals are tad bit rude too.

    Other then that it's magical.

    Good to see a well written and honest account of our island :-)