Greece’s Emerald Isle
Skopelos, a large and mountainous island whose wild north shores are washed by the Aegean, whose placid southern bays offer shelter to yachts and swimmers, has more than a few parallels with the real Emerald Isle – Ireland. First of all it is green – virulently, vividly, viper-green – the colour set off by the sublime blue waters of the white cliff-girt beaches and pine-shadowed bays . Second of all, it is home – or rather second home – to an eclectic collection of artists, photographers, architects, poets, designers, and film makers who casually mingle with the oblivious natives and build rather beautiful and secret homes. Third of all, it quietly goes about its own business below the radar of the rest of Greece, overshadowed touristically by its famous smaller sister Skiathos, forgotten by the administrative headquarters over on mainland Volos, and flourishing under this benign neglect; accessible yet overlooked. This benign neglect is a feature of Skopelos’ long history, in ancient times it produced some strong wine, the Ottomans could never be bothered with it other than once asking Barbarossa the pirate to sack it, which he did, razing it to the ground and carrying off all the inhabitants, the Venetians accepted some tribute from the locals and left them to get on with it. Plus ca change….
The north and south villages of sleepy Glossa and picturesque Skopelos were only joined up by a road in the 1960’s – before that it was a 9 hour donkey ride along the spine of the mountains, which is why there is still little joined up writing between the two towns – All this is the key to Skopelos’ almost perfect preservation; the whole island is a total delight of unspoiled nature and friendly and welcoming locals.