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Travelling to Chios, by Mary Axiotis (PART I)

(editor’s note: Personal impressions of a Greek American who is visiting Chios every summer for forty years now)

The island of Chios is one of the largest islands in Greece located in the north eastern part of the Aegean Sea. 

A few years ago, Chios was an undiscovered island in the world of tourism.  Lately it’s becoming quite known to European tourists and many Greek Americans who visit the island during the summer months, especially in August.  As with any other Greek American, my husband and I visit Chios every summer for the past 40 years. 

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Chios Folk Music

Remarkably rich in history, culture and traditions, Chios also boasts an extremely diverse musical tradition, with special characteristics, varying from one part of the island to the other. As it happens in many other fields, like the natural landscape and architecture, the northern villages of Chios are quite different from the south, even in terms of folk music. With multiple musical influences, tracing back to the Ionian musical rhythms of antiquity and the musical legacy of the Byzantine Empire, but also reflecting the influence of the Latin conquerors and the folk musical tradition of Asia Minor and the Aegean islands, the folk music of Chios is worth discovering for the visitor. 

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Mouth watering… roses!

The traditional spoon sweet of Agios Georgios Sykousis of Chios

 

Chios island, except of course for the natural Chios mastic, is also famous for the production of spoon sweets, small sweet treats consisting of one or two bites of fruit preserved in syrup and marmalades. This kind of sweets are made with very old traditional recipes, using sometimes unexpected materials. Except from fruits, flowers and vegetables are also very often used.

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Chios island’s aromatic herbs

This time of the year the countryside of Chios island is full of wonderful aromatic herbs with incomparable aroma: fresh oregano, aromatic thyme, rosemary, lemon verbena, sage, fragrant lavender and hypericum with its healing properties. The dry and mild Mediterranean climate, combined with the Aegean Sea breeze, is extremely favorable for these plant species, allowing them to grow especially rich in aromas and essential oils. Chios island presents a great variety in endemic species of aromatic plants and herbs encountered in the Aegean Sea, but also in the opposite Asia Minor coast.

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