The first thing an Italian is told when landing in
is: “Italians and Greeks, one face one race”. No matter if the Italian in front of them is a strawberry blonde Milanese looking for a full-screen sun cream in order not to get burnt while visiting the Acropolis. Greece
This is actually a good point: Italians and Greeks share some cultural features that make each other feel at home when traveling in their respective Countries.
We speak loud. We are coffee addicts. We have a great past, a troubled present and a very uncertain future. Our parents call us “my baby” till we become parents ourselves and don’t understand why we should go and live on our own – maybe in another town or abroad - when we can comfortably stay at home with them. We love eating well, much and with many friends. We have a taste for what is beautiful.
is a concentrate of all these aspects. Athens
The city centre is relatively small, so you can easily visit the most beautiful parts in a long week-end: anyway if you have the chance to stay longer, there are several day trips that you can do in the outskirts.
So, pack your stuff and don’t forget:
1) A pair of sunglasses: not only because as an Italian I’m a maniac of big fashionable sunglasses even when it snows, but also because the summer in Athens is very hot and sunny and they may be truly essential (contact me if you need help with the model!).
2) A pair of comfortable sneakers to climb up and down the Acropolis.
3) A swimwear for a trip to Glyfada beach if it gets too hot.
Be aware that
is either love or hate: there’s no an intermediate solution. I’ve been speaking with people disappointed by the (apparently experienced) lack of organization and order of the city and at the same time I’ve exchanged enthusiastic memories, a sort of melancholy of Greek landscapes and suggestions for future visits with others who- like me - totally fell in love for Athens and Greece since the first time they touched Socrates’ land. Athens
Are you wondering why I’m addicted to
? There you go: Athens
2) It is the place where arts were introduced: do you enjoy a night out to the theatre? Or a good concert? Are you a dancer or a writer? Forget about all of that if it weren’t for the Athenians!
3) The Acropolis view when the sun sets: a walk into the Acropolis area is one of the things that everyone should do at least once in a life. The complex was firstly conceived in the VIIth cent B.C. but its final shape was conceived only in the V cent, thanks two men: the stateman Periclis, the Acropolis’ mind, and the artist Phidias, the Acropolis’ heart. In that period
was the top of the world and you can still feel the charm of its great history at the end of the day, when the crowd of tourists has left, the Levantine breeze caresses the site marbles and another sunset – after 2.500 years – takes place. Athens
4) Seeing the place where Socrates went praying in the ancient Agora: the ancient Agorà is located beneath the Acropolis hill and it’s what remains of the actual ancient polis of
. Indeed the Acropolis was the religious and celebrative part of the city, while the Agorà was the commercial and residential area. The main “celebs” of ancient times passed through it. Including Aristoteles, Plato and friends. Athens
5) Ancient melting into contemporary: at the
, a masterpiece of modern architecture which astonishingly fits the archaeological scenario in which it was constructed. Acropolis Museum
6) Going to open-aired Cine
eyeing the Parthenon: in the middle of Plaka, in Kydathinaion Street 22, there’s a small cinema that offers an international program of movies to watch on the open-aired roof with view on the lightened Acropolis. Paris
7) Having a Greek coffee in a kafeneion: for an Italian coffee breaks are a crucial moment of the day. As far as I saw, the Greeks are the only people that are keener than us on having a coffee with their friends. I strongly suggest you to spend some time to look for the café that mostly fits your tastes in
, so to adapt to this habit. Some tips: Athens
- Monastikari offers some very old kafeneia mainly crowded with the local working class: Greek coffee quality granted as well as a chat with an Athenian.
|Sounio Beach view from Poseidon Temple|
- Dioskuri café: a café straight at the foot of the Acropolis, straight in the middle of history.
8) Refreshing in Glyfada or Sounio: the advantage of being in a capital city with an escape to some of the best landscapes in the
Mediterranean. Glyfada, ’ beach, as well as Sounio are easily reachable by bus. The first offers sandy beaches and glam lounge bar. The second, the typical blue of the Athens Aegean Sea and the rests of a temple to Poseidon – the God of the seas, well-known for the scenario it offers at the sunset. The beach is an easy walk far from the site: literally a “divine” swim.
9) Buying home-made leather sandals and bags: both in Monastiraki Flea Market and in Psirri you can find leather sandals and accessories still made according to traditions. A visit to the sandals’ guru Stavros Melissinos’ small and cosy shop is a must-have!
10) Rembetiko and Roses:
has an old (of course) and wide musical tradition, which is still widely performed and danced by people of all ages. Rembetiko originated in the Greek-Turkish community of Greece Izmir back in the 19th cent, when that part of Turkey was actually under influence. Nowadays, it is still played with the same instruments, the bouzouki mandolin and guitar, it still speaks of love and passion and it’s still danced all night long by the people in smoky Rembetika kafeneia. The boys get into the café with bunches of roses…throwing roses is the traditional way to invite a girl on the Rembetiko dancefloor. So, girls on your way to Greece : add to the “don’t forget” list a nice party dress and don't be shy, dancing rembetiko is much easier than you think! Athens
I could actually go on forever with my list, as I’m back to
Athens almost once a year as my departure point to the rest of . But what actually brings me back again and again to this coastal land with a necklace of islands is its people: open-minded, kind with guests, proud of their culture and willing to share it with foreigners. Each travel is connected to a new friend, a new personal history, a new perspective heard or discussed. And that’s exactly what I think traveling is about. Greece