The name of the island’s main harbour reveals something of the history of the island. A ‘patitirion’ is a place where grapes are trodden. Like its larger neighbour, Skopelos, on which it has depended throughout its history, Alonnisos produced and exported wine in Antiquity. Ampho rae for the transporting of wine, stamped with the legend ‘IKION’, implying ‘produce of Ikos’ (the ancient name of Alonnisos), have been found at various points around the Aegean and Black Sea area, and at Alexandria in Egypt. In recent times the successors to those vines were wiped out by philoxera in 1968 and only a small number have since been replanted on the island as new stock. Today Patitiri is an unpretentious port, hastily built in the late 1960s and 70s with no particular architectural merit but with a pleasing setting around the attractive harbour-front and the steep slopes that encircle it. It has greater intimacy than the other ports of the Sporades.
Displays of the processes and the apparatus of the island’s long tradition of wine-production can be seen in the Kostas and Angelas Mavriki Museum (open daily June–Oct 11–7), visible above the western side of the harbour in a stone building whose imposing size promises perhaps more than the museum currently delivers. The collection, neatly displayed over three floors with a cafe-terrace above, is nonetheless instructive: the ‘Pirate Museum’ on the upper floor underlines the extent to which the history of the peripheral islands of the Aegean, such as Alonnisos, has been bound up with the perennial scourge of piracy. Manacles, guns, nautical equipment (which includes a fore-runner of barbed-wire for preventing the boarding of pirates on ships) are displayed. On the ground floor is the modern historical section, exhibiting arms, shells, mines and other related bellic material and documents. The greatest variety of material is in the basement, where artefacts of the island’s traditional economy are displayed: wine-presses and a fermentation vat of remarkable proportions, as well as alembics for preparing distillates. Of particular interest is the equipment used by pack-saddle makers, from a time when the accoutrements for mules were as important as those for cars today. The displayed seal-skin sandals once used by islanders are—in view of the island’s current dedication to the preservation of the Mediterranean monk seal—a poignant reminder of past habits.
Alonnisos Island is part of the Sporades Island Group, Greece.