The North Coast to Aghiasmata
The route east, which winds from ravine to ravine, high above the largely deserted north coast, is densely forested and well-watered. In Antiquity this area produced ‘Ariousion wine’—the most famous wine to be produced on an island already famed for its wines in general. The Chiots of the Classical era were over-fond of it according to Aristophanes, who contrasted them with the sober inhabitants of the island of Keos (Kea). A distant descendant of this wine is still to be had in the attractive village of Kourounia (33km from Volissos). There is epigraphic evidence of a cult of Hercules at Kourounia; And at Aphrodisia (38km), the name itself suggests a cult of the goddess of love. From Aphrodisia, a branch road plunges down into the ravine towards Aghiasmata. The small community of Keramos at the head of the valley, 2.3km below, still conserves some of the ruined mine-buildings associated with the extraction of antimony. This is an area generally rich in minerals and the hot thermal waters which rise by the sea at Aghiasmata (44.5km) derive their curative qualities from this. These therapeutic powers have been appreciated and used continuously since Byzantine times, if not for longer, and are mentioned with approval by visitors and writers from the 17th century on. This makes it additionally sad that the place today has such an abandoned and uncared-for feel. The springs, where the water rises at 68Β°C, are at the western edge of the beach, just beyond the abandoned bath-house on the shore; The water is now pumped from a concrete hut over the springs directly back to the Hydrotherapy Spa, which lies in the floor of the valley, 500m to the south. At the moment, this is only open from July to September; The curative waters remain inaccessible for the rest of the year. In compensation, the cliffs nearby are good for collecting samphire.
By the direct route south along the valley between the Amani and Pelinnaion massifs, Aghiasmata is only 19km from Volissos. After the watershed above Aphrodisia, the road descends with vistas across the wide spaces of the central area of the island. The nature of this area has been transformed by past fires and by the abandonment of a number of the villages; As a result, a very different vegetation from before has grown up, followed by a different fauna. These upland grassy areas are now the terrain of the woodchat shrike and of the rare Cinereous bunting, a muted version of its commoner cousin, the Red-headed bunting.
Near Nea Potamia (7km from Volissos) are two of the abandoned villages: Palia Potamia, 1km above its modern namesake to which the inhabitants have since moved; And the evocative area of Tamarkou, or more accurately, Ta Markou (3.5km below, by the road to Pispilounta). This is a mediaeval settlement with fortress tower, churches, and roofless houses, overgrown with vegetation and abandoned since the beginning of the last century.
Chios Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island group
The NW of the Island. The North Coast to Aghiasmata.