Victoria Aitken our resident clubber,  goes time-travelling in Chios and explores the history behind Homer (Greek, not Simpson.)

A gorgeous local resident

Chios is the fifth largest island in Greece and is situated in the eastern Agean sea, facing Turkey. I travelled and explored the southern part of the Island where the surrounding villages were built between the 14th and 16th century.

The island has a long history and is frequently mentioned in the texts of ancient Greek writers. Homer (the famous poet who wrote the Iliad and Odyssey) lived here, and during medieval times, Chios was also a strong Byzantine centre.

Chios has been rich for centuries and even today its economy does not depend on tourism – unlike Santorini and Mykonos. In this respect, it’s a hidden gem of an island as it does not actively promote tourism, but keeps its beautiful spots out of the press.

Some of the most powerful shipping families in Greece come form Chios due to the island’s location (Europe’s most eastern outpost to the rest of the world). Chios’s economy also depends on the agricultural production of Ouzo and mastic- but it is the mastic tree that keeps economic life of Chios abundant.

This special tree only thrives in the southern part of Chios (many have tried to uproot it and grow it in greenhouses without much success). The tree’s sap is very valuable, which only expects know how to collect.

In ancient times mastic was used as medicine but it was really its alleged aphrodisiac qualities which made the Chios locals rich, as people travelled far and wide to get their hands on some of the magic sap.

Today, the Japanese and the Americans try to outbid each other for their share of the sap, and there were many Japanese tourists in the south of Chios for this reason. On a more basic medical level it’s used in shampoo, perfume, and toothpaste. But it also has culinary uses in jam, gum, ice cream and biscuits.

Another local product with a story is the Chios cheese, Mastello. The ingredients are a closely guarded secret kept by farmers.

The best beach is in Emporios which has a volcano beach known as “Mavra Volia” -but don’t worry, as the last volcano erupted 12-14 million years ago. The beach is full of stones, though so bring your flip-flops – and by lying on the hot stones, you even get a free hot stone therapy treatment – how many beaches provide you with that service? Close by are the pre-historic remains of one of the temples of Athena, too.

Finally, if you feel like taking a day trip away from the island, remember that Turkey is just half-an-hour away by boat.

Chios Villages

Komi – you can find the best pizza in town here and every Sunday there’s a big beach party on the beach – watch the yachts fill the bay.

Pyrghi – this village is famous for the unique graffiti decoration on the buildings known as Xysta,

Mesta is the best-known of the medieval villages. Check out the tavern in the middle of the square. The chef’s wife is a soothsayer and can cast spells on your enemies for you – and also keep the evil eye away.

Visit the Chios site for further details. For car hire, flight and hotel deals visit here.

Victoria Aitken

About Victoria Aitken

Victoria Aitken – a London based songwriter and singer -– has performed to audiences in London, Manhattan, Berlin, Dubai and Paris. Victoria’s distinct sound has consistently reached prime positions on the UK and European dance charts. Her songs have received note and praise in publications such as The New York Times, New York Magazine, Vogue, GQ, W, Elle, The Daily Telegraph and E! News.