The Island of Aegina
There are places that enchant a visitor like the Sirens enchanted Odysseus. Aegina is such a place, which is why so many wanderers end up staying on this little island in the Saronic Gulf for years or even for their entire lives. Painters and iconographers, sculptors, musicians and writers, many of them among the greatest names of Modern Greek civilisation, have been a part of the singular character of this community for decades now. Travelling to Aegina is a journey of the soul - as soon as you set eyes on the island, it sings, it tells you endless legends and stories with its soft colours, hospitable climate and its uniquely clear Attica light. Lemon trees bending under the weight of their fruit dot the well-tended fields year-round, while oil from centenarian olive trees fill earthenware pots in every home; the traditional general store and greengrocer's still keep big wooden barrels full of wine for their customers; and the fish market sets out crates brimming over with fish freshly caught by the caiques arriving in the yacht-filled harbour. The most recent addition to the island's production is the famous Aegina pistachio, which was first cultivated in the 1920s. In 1996, it was registered by the European Union as a Protected Designation of Origin product, thanks to its delectable flavour.
Aegina's known history dates back to 3500 BC, as evidenced by the major monuments from all periods of history that make it an ideal candidate for the study of Greek civilisation in general. No matter which monument you look at - whether it is prehistoric Kolona or the ancient Temple of Aphaia; the scattered churches in medieval Paleochora; or the visionary Kapodistrian buildings - you will be overwhelmed by the boundless information about the island's rich history. Nowadays, it continues to impress. Tasteful shops, cozy bars, tavernas featuring traditional cuisine, narrow lanes lined with fragrant courtyards, and on the waterfront - an endless festival staged by smiling and warmly welcoming people. In the background, the scenery is a mix of elegant neoclassical homes, screeching gulls, fishermen mending their nets, and clouds in a rainbow of colours that are the envy of the best Renaissance painter. Handsome boys and girls sitting side-by-side with stoic, wise elders, complete a picture that is defined by its complementary contrasts. A beauty sweet like honey, full of essence and depth, as alluring as the most seductive of the Sirens.