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Euboea - Lake Dystos to Karystos, and around Mount Ochi - Marmor carystium: cipollino marble

Marmor carystium: ‘cipollino’ marble

Of all the decorative marbles that the Romans extracted from the length and breadth of their Empire—from Aquitaine to the Egyptian Desert, from African Numidia to the Propontis—none had such apparent popularity or was so widely employed throughout the Empire as marmor Carystium, which was available in such inexhaustible quantities in the foothills of Mount Ochi, and emerged from nature in a never-ending variety of subtly different patterns. Elegant and cool in its delicate marine colour, with long, green-blue veins on a translucent background, it was never dull and yet never overly demanded attention. It enhanced any other marble combined with it, and above all set off the white marble of sculpture with exemplary elegance. It was abundant, resilient, adaptable to construction, and not difficult to work. The Renaissance stone-workers called it Cipollino (‘onion-like’) not so much because it has the appearance of sliced onion, but because the veins of mica which colour the calcareous body of the stone,cause it to be easily cut along the seams in the fashion of an onion.
   Its illustrious career in Rome began, according to Cornelius Nepos (cited by Pliny, Nat. Hist. XXXVI 48) when it was introduced by Mamurra of Formiae, Julius Ceasar’s chief engineer in Gaul. It was extensively used in the Roman and Imperial Fora (Basilica Aemilia, Temple of Vespasian, the House of the Ves tal Virgins, the Palace of Domitian, Forum of Trajan, Basilica of Maxentius etc.), its translucence and col our being preserved and refreshed by annual applications of a solution of chalk and milk. Amongst the largest monolithic columns of Carystian marble are those supporting the portico of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina overlooking the Forum: they measure 40 Roman feet (11.9m) and rise to 48 Rf (14.2m) with their Corinthian capitals. Interestingly, their girth and length is the same as those which have, for some reason, been left unfinished in the quarry at ‘Kylindri’ on Mount Ochi. This may have been a standard measure of column shaft however—albeit one rarely commissioned, because of the size and the problems inherent in its transportation. Loweringsuch massive weights down the mountainside in a controlled fashion and with minimum damage was a job of considerable complexity; at the port they were shipped to Rome, or other destinations, slung, just below water-level, between two barges lashed together in the form of a catamaran. Although this provided the best hope of stability at sea, many never made it to their destination.
   The Romans also extracted asbestos (whose curi ous properties so fascinated them: see Strabo, Geog. X, 1.6) from these same hills. All this meant a wealth of commerce for the port of Carystus. The official who oversaw it all was a figure of some importance, as is suggested by the lavish funerary monument of the local quarry master, whose ruins are still visible in the city centre.

   Cipollino is rarely seen properly polished today (apart from some statue-pedestals in the Vatican and Capitoline Museums in Rome), and it appears dull when not regularly maintained. Pieces can be gathered easily in the area of the quarries and are of a rewarding lustre and elegance when polished even by modern machinery.


Euboea Island, Greece


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access

Euboea Island, Greece.

Access to the island is either by road via the Euripus bridges (1 hr from Athens, exit "Schimatari" from Athens/ Thessaloniki autoroute) or via short ferry crossings from Rafina (Attica) to Marmaris (c. every 3 hrs), Aghia Marina (Attica) to Nea Styra (c. every 2–3 hrs), Skala Oropou (Attica) to Eretria (every 30 mins), Arkitsa (Phthiotis) to Aedipsos (hourly), Glyfa (Phthiotis) to Agiokampos (hourly).
A hydrofoil service, four times weekly in the summer also links Chalcis with Limni, and Limni with Loutrá Aedipsoú and Aghios Konstantinos.

Euboea Travel Guide

eating

Euboea Island, Greece.

In Aedipsos, the central Mezedopoleion Armenizontas often has good, live rebetiko music.
In Limni, To Kyma (new), in a handsome stone house on the waterfront, is attentive both to service and to the freshness of its delightful variety of classic, Greek dishes. The well-established To Astro, at Katounia, remains good for fresh fish. To Neon, 1km below Stení, delightfully spread out beneath immemorial planes by a stream, specialises in local sausage and charcoal grilled vegetables and meats.
Geroplatanos in Myli, near Karystos, is somewhat similar in setting, with a good choice of dishes, especially at lunchtime on Sundays.
In Karystos itself, Kotsika Street is lined with simple, inexpensive street-eateries; these may look uninspiring, but do not underestimate the quality of meat and the freshness of the wine at the minuscule I Melissa, at no 27

Euboea Travel Guide

further reading

Euboea Island, Greece.

Sarah Wheeler, An Island Apart, 1992; Barbro Noel Baker, An Isle of Greece: The Noels in Euboea (2000), Archaeopress, Oxford; or from www.deniseharveypublisher.gr

Euboea Travel Guide

lodging

Euboea Island, Greece.

North Euboea. Spa hotels in Aedipsos: the luxurious Thermae Sylla Spa (T. 22260 60100, fax 22055, www. thermaesylla.gr) or the Avra Spa Hotel (T. 22260 22226, fax 23260).
Alternatively, the Hotel Aigli (T. 22260 22215, fax 24886), is a comfortable hotel, without spa facilities.
In Limni, choice is limited: the 81959), near the museum is a pleasant option.

Central Euboea. At Steni, the Hotel Dirphys (T. 22280 51217) is tranquil and delight ful, but very basic. Chalcis is not an obvious choice to stay in but if necessary, the Paliria Hotel (T. 22210 28001, fax 81959), near the museum is a pleasant option.
At Kymi the Hotel Corali (T. 22220 22212, fax 22002, www.coralihotel. gr), a little way outside the harbour, is modern and comfortable.

Southern Euboea.
At Karystos the Apollon Suites Hotel (T. 22240 22045, fax 22049 www.apollonsuiteshotel.com) is an Italian-run hotel on the beach, with large rooms to the eastern end of the town.  Hotel Plaza (T. 22270 31235, fax 31336), on the water front is quiet and simple, and currently represents the best option. Closer in to the centre is the Hotel Karystion (T. 22240 22391, fax 22727, www.karystion.gr) less spacious, but a little more modern and stylish, and with pleasant service.

Historic Villa Rentals For those seeking a luxurious base for a longer period (preferably in a small group so as to share the cost) these two historic houses are excel lent and elegant solutions: Villa Averoff at Kirinthos, (www.villa-averoff.com); and the Konaki at Prokopi (www. candili.gr).

Euboea Travel Guide

museums

Euboea Island, Greece.

Folklore Museum
Archaeological Museum

Euboea Travel Guide

other attractions

Euboea Island, Greece.

Drakospita
Thermal springs

Euboea Travel Guide

practical info

Euboea Island, Greece.

340 01-346 00 Evia, Evvia or Evvoia: area 3,661 sq.km; perimeter 729km; resident population 191,009; max. altitude 1743 m. Port Authorities: Agiokampos T. 22260 71228; Aedipsos T. 22260 22464; Chalcis T. 22210 22236; Eretria T. 22290 62201; Kymi T. 22220 22606; Nea Styra T. 22240 41266; Marmari T. 22240 31222. Information: T. 22210 82677, www.naevias.gr

Euboea Travel Guide

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