Drepano, Vivari, Candia, Iria

Spring is finally here and this alone makes me feel very happy.  I hate cold, gloomy weather and this year the winter in Greece was harsh and colder than ever.  Well, this is behind us now and the weather is much warmer (although lower than the normal temperatures during April), the skies are the same pure, cloudless blue and you can enjoy a cup of coffee outdoors, at least during the day and going for a walk at the beach, lying down reading a book relaxing, taking in fresh air under the limitless sky are some of the reasons why we are looking forward to living here in the future.

Unfortunately, the economic crisis is holding us back but although there are so many things which still need to be done in order to move and have ran out of cash, we hope to spend some time here during the summer, even if the house is not ready.

Last Friday we went to Assini again as we had to be there for the assembly and fitting of the closet in our bedroom.

After opening the house to the workers, they told us that they would finish in about three hours and after standing there watching them for a while, we decided that we could take advantage of this time and explore a few places we had not visited yet.

Road to Drepano

Just next to our house the road leads to Drepano, a lovely little village just 2 km from Assini.  On our right were lots of cypress trees (you can see them at the end of the road), which serve as wind barriers to their fields and further on the right an old, destroyed wind mill.  Lots of thoughts passed from my mind how people would come here, their donkeys loaded with grain, to be milled for the production of flour.

Old Wind Mill


In the villages you can find lots rooms to let and cafes, restaurants, tavernas etc., but at this time of the year the villages are mostly desserted.

Beach in Drepano during summer.


This is the view of Drepano from far away and in the horizon you can see the hill of Agia Paraskevi which is just outside Assini.

Beatween Vivari and Candia

Candia Beach

Anginares (Artichokes) from Argolida

I have read that 90% of production of artichokes in Greece are  produced in the region of Argolida in two villages called Iria and Candia, of  the Municipality of Assini, not far from Nafplion and I was really looking forward for the day we could see some in the fields.

Artichokes from the region of Argolida at farmers’ market in Athens

And finally, just before reaching Candia there were fields, after fields, after fields of artichokes.  They do cultivate other products as well but artichokes is the main product.

Artichokes (cynara scolymus) do not need much water, so they are cultivated in hot and dry climates and they also grow in the wild (cynara cardunculus) as they do not need any particular care.  They are rich in antioxidants, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, fibre and vitamin C.

Wild Artichokes

If you are in the region during May don’t miss the Artichoke festival with traditional dances and folk music, as well as lots of  food with artichokes as its main ingredient.

In the past this plant was considered to be an aphrodisiac but nowadays this myth has been busted but it does have a lot of other healthy properties.   It contains an acid called Cynarin, which protects the liver from anything that might affect it such as hepititis or cirrhosis.  It is diuretic, anticeptic and helps relief gastroenteric problems.  It reduces the levels of cholesterol in the blood, it also reduces the sugar levels in the blood, it strenthens the immune system and recently studies have shown that the acids caffeic and flavoinoids help fight cancer.

Artichokes are native to the Mediterranean and in Greece they appear during the last months of winter and spring.  Although during the past years we have all sorts of vegetables cultivated in green houses, we never see artichokes after the end of Spring.

According to Greek Mythology, Dias (Zeus) the King of the Gods, had easy access to the women of the world and took full advantage of it. Also, his power as a supreme god made him difficult to resist.  He fell in love with a beautiful girl called Cynara, who rejected him and refused to resist and Dias got so angry that he transformed her into a plant.   In ancient Greek the name for artichoke was Cynara (pr. Kynara) in modern Greek An(cynara) = ankinara.

If you avoid cooking artichokes because you don’t know how to clean them, it’s very easy if you follow these simple steps:

How to clean / trim artichokes

First of all when buying fresh artichokes chose those that feel heavy for their size and if you press them just above the stem, where the heart of the artichoke is, it should be firm, with tightly closed leaves and tender stalks.

As artichokes oxidize and turn brown quickly, fill a bowl with water and add the juice of 1 lemon.  Your hands might get stained so it is better to use disposable plastic gloves when cleaning them.

Cut off the stem of the artichoke, up to the base but do not discard.

Remove any leaves that are hard around the base of the artichoke.

Cut off the top 1/3 of the artichoke because the lower part is not edible.

Spoon out the hairy choke.  Place the artichoke immediately in the water.

When done with all the artichokes, now peel off the stem around the fibrous core.  This part is edible as well.

(Note:  as there are many varieties of artichokes, I am not sure if the inner part of the stalk is edible in all varieties.  Peel it and if it’s flesh is firm, then it is fine).

Other relevant recipes:

Anginares à la Polita

Artichoke and Celeriac Soup

Agginaropita (Artichoke Pie)

Artichoke Lasagna – Pastitsio

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

Tolo / Τολό

View of Tolo from Ancient Assini

Tolo is a small picturesque seaside village only 12 km south from Nafplion and 3 km from Assini Village and at a walking distance to Ancient Assini (around 1 km).

Το Τολό είναι ένα γραφικό παραθαλάσιο χωριό σε απόσταση 12 χλμ Νοτίως του Ναυπλίου και  απέχει 3 χλμ από το χωριό Ασίνη ενώ από την αρχαία Ασίνη είναι περίπου 1 χλμ.

Tolo is situated in a bay on the gulf of Argolis on the Eastern shores of Peloponnese.

Το Τολό βρίσκεται νοτίως τους Ναυπλίου, σε ένα κόλπο του Αργολικού Κόλπου, στην Ανατολική Πελοπόννησο.

It has beautiful sandy beaches which spread accross 2 km called “Psili Ammos” meaning thin sand and on the beach you can find restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, night clubs, souvenir shops etc.

Το Τολό απλώνεται σε έκταση 2 χμ. αμμώδους παραλίας, τη Ψιλή Άμμο, και κατά μήκος της παραλίας βρίσκονται τα εστιατόρια, οι καφετέριες, μπαρ, νυχτερινή διασκέδαση, ξενοδοχεία, τουριστικά μαγαζάκια με σουβερνίρ κλπ.

Opposite Tolo there are three islets, Romvi, Daskalio and Koronissi which can be visited by boat.  On Daskalio you can see the chapel of Zoodochou Pigis, which was built in 1688.

Απέναντι από το Τολό βρίσκονται τρία νησάκια, η Ρόμβη, το Δασκαλιό και το Κορωνήσι, τα οποία μπορείτε να επισκεφτείτε με βάρκα.  Στο Δασκαλιό βρίσκεται το εκκλησάκι της Ζωοδόχου Πηγής που κτίστηκε το 1688.

The history of this village is rather recent according to Greek standards and begins after the Independence War of 1821.  The Bay of Tolo and the neighbouring Ancient City of Assini have been know since Homeric times.   Homer mentions in The Iliad that the ancient port of Assini, was situated here in the bay and  it is was the from here, that the fleet of Assini departed to Troy and took part in the Trojan War.

View of Ancient Assini Acropolis f rom Tolo – Η Ακρόπολις της Αρχαίας Ασίνης από το Τολό.

Η ιστορία του χωριού είναι σχετικά πρόσφατη, δηλαδή μετά την Επανάσταση του 1821.  Ο κόλπος του Τολού που ήταν το επίνειο της Αρχαίας Ασίνης είναι γνωστά από τα Ομηρικά χρόνια, όπου ο Όμηρος αναφέρει ότι ο από εδώ ξεκίνησε ο στόλος για τον Τρωϊκό πόλεμο.

Many conquerors occupied the area from the Crusaders, to the Frankish rule, to the Venetians and the Turks.  During the Byzantine era, the bay served mainly as an auxiliary naval station to Nafplion and a place of the people of Nafplion to visit during the summer.  After the decline of the Byzantine Empire during the 12th century, it falls into the hands of the Franks, it is then taken over by the Venetians, who in their turn surrended it to the Ottomans in 1540 a.D.

Πολλοί κατακτητές πέρασαν από εδώ, από τους Σταυροφόρους, στους Φράγκους, Ενετούς και τους Τούρκους.  Κατά τους Βυζαντινούς χρόνους ο κόλπος χρησίμευε σαν βοηθητικός χώρος για προστασία του στόλου, αλλά ήταν και τόπος ψυχαγωγίας των κατοίκων του Ναυπλίου.   Κατά το 12ο αιώνα οι Σταυροφόροι καλαλαμβάνουν όλες τις περιοχές που είχαν οι Βυζαντινοί, μετά περνά στα χέρια των Φράγκων. στη συνέχεια εξαγοράζεται από τους Ενετούς, οι οποίοι με τη σειρά τους την παραχωρούν στους Οθωμανούς το 1540 μ.Χ.

In 1685, at the outbreak of the Morean War, the Doge of Venice, Morosini took command of a fleet against the Ottomans and 2.000 Greek volunteers joined him.  Over the next several years, he captured most of the Morea.  When he  was ordered to capture, Nafplio, the bay of Tolo was chosen as a place suitable as a base of operations for his expedition as it was the safest place in the region, while the shore was used for the army to camp. After the success of his expedition and until 1718 AD, when the area again was occupied by the Turkish, Tolo was used as a secondary naval station for the Venetian fleet.

Το 1685 ο Δόγης της Βενετίας Μοροζίνης, επικεφαλής του Ενετικού στόλου ξεκινά εκστρατεία με 2000 Έλληνες εθελοντές για την απελευθέρωση του Μωριά από τους Οθωμανούς.  Όταν παίρνει εντόλη να πολιορκήσει και να καταλάβει το Ναυπλίο, σαν σημείο κατάλληλο να δεχτεί τις δυνάμεις του και να αποτελέσει ορμητήριο της εκστρατείας του, επιλέγει τον κόλπο του Τολού, σαν το πιο ασφαλές λιμάνι της περιοχής.   Μέχρι και το 1718 μ.Χ. όταν η περιοχή περνά ξανά στα χέρια των Οθωμανών, το Τολό χρησιμοποιείται σαν ένας ασφαλές αγκυροβόλι για τον Ενετικό Στόλο, ενώ η παραλία χρησιμοποιήθηκε σαν χώρος καταυλισμού των στρατευμάτων.

Afther the Greek Independence in 1821, Nafplion became the first capital of Greece and from here the remaining Greek towns under Turkish rule were aided.  The new Governor of Greece Kapodistrias helped the Greek refugees, after being persecuted by the Turks from Crete, to settle here.  The village founded here at the Port of Tolo was named Minoa, in honour King Minos of Crete.  After the liberation of Crete the remaining refugees who remained here renamed the fishing village to Tolo in 1916.

Μετά την Επανάσταση του 1821, το Ναύπλιο γίνεται η Πρώτη πρωτεύουσα του νεοσύστατου Ελληνικού κράτους και από εκεί στέλλεται βοήθεια στις υπόλοιπες Ελληνικές πόλεις που ακόμη αγωνίζονταν για να απελευθερωθούν.  Ο Κυβερνήτης της Ελλάδας Ιωάννης Καποδίστριας, με ψήφισμα τον Μάρτιο του 1831 ξεκινάει μια προσπάθεια αποκατάστασης όσων αναγκάστηκαν να εγκαταλείψουν τα σπίτια τους και να προσφύγουν στην τότε ελέυθερη Ελλάδα, ειδικά τους πρόσφυγες από την Κρήτη και τους παραχωρεί το Τολό σαν χώρο εγκατάστασης.  Το χωριό ονομάζεται Μινώα προς τιμή του βασιλιά της Κρήτης Μίνωα.  Μετά την απελευθέρωση της Κρήτης όσοι από τους πρόσφυγες παρέμειναν στην περιοχή δημιουργήσαν ένα μικρό, γραφικό, ψαράδικο χωριό που ζούσε απομονωμένο, στους δικούς του ρυθμούς και το οποίο στα 1916 γίνεται η κοινότητα Τολού.

From the middle of the 20th Century it evolved into this beautiful touristic resort.  Close to many archaeological sites such as Mycenae, Epidauros and its natural beauties, its sandy coasts, deep blue waters, verdurous landscapes and untrodden spots, composing an unparalleled icon that shall bedazzle you

Από τα μέσα του 20ου αιώνα, εξελίσσεται σ’ αυτό το υπέροχο τουριστικό θέρετρο. Με εύκολη πρόσβαση σε πολλούς αρχαιολογικούς χώρους, όπως τις Μυκήνες, την Επίδαυρο κλπ. αλλά και γεμάτη από φυσικές ομορφιές, η περιοχή του Tολού σφύζει από εκτεταμένες αμμουδιές, καταγάλανα νερά, κατάφυτα τοπία και απάτητες γωνιές, συνθέτοντας μία απαράμιλλη εικόνα που θα σας εκθαμβώσει.

Finally from Tolo you can take daily cruises to Hydra, Spetses, Poros and Monemvassia.

Τέλος από εκεί μπορείτε να διοργανώσετε μονοήμερες εκδρομές στην Ύδρα,  Σπέτσες, Πόρο και  Μονεμβασιά.