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North to Chrysomilia
Seven hundred metres beyond the junction the asphalt ends; after a further 500m, on the left just above the road as it flattens out at the summit, is the church of Aghia Marina (also reached directly by a very steep path—easier to follow on the descent than on the way up—from behind the plateia), in a panoramic setting amongst pines and cypress on the crest of the ridge. A few remains—columns, capitals and marble templon screen elements— gathered together at the side of the church are testimony to a Byzantine predecessor.
Five hundred metres further northwards, you pass the modern church of Aghia Irini Chrysovalandou to the right, and, just as the road descends, the church of the Panaghia comes into sight on another narrow ridge with ample views, both down to the town and north to Chrysomilia, from its attractive and shaded precinct. Visible from here towards the southwest, on a lower ridge and reached by a rough path (15 minutes), is the chapel of Aghios Giorgios built on the summit of a spur which served as a small ancient acropolis for Fourni—but which may not have been more than a large defensive fort. There is visible evidence of ancient construction in the form of cut and drafted blocks and eroded architectural elements lying to the east of the church. The position dominates the whole of the bay below and represents an ideal site for a fortress and garrison.
To the west of the front of the modern church of Aghios Giorgios is a curious triangular cut made in the living rock, a little over 2m in length along it base. There are graffiti, ancient and modern, in the area: one ancient inscription reads, ‘Longing for offspring (?or for Epigonos), i guard the acropolis of the people of Korsiai’. In the façade of the church, just to the right of the door, is part of an ancient dedicatory inscription ‘to Hermes’. These disparate elements are hard to link into a coherent whole.
Four hundred metres below the church of the Panaghia, a fork (4.5km) to the left leads down (1km) to the protected and delightful bay of Koumara with a sandy beach, some shade (rare on Fourni) afforded by the trees behind the waterfront, and the tiny church of the Evangelistria, set back above the shore. Beyond the Koumara junction, the road (now considerably rougher) descends and crosses the narrow waist of the island into its northern sector, passing the bay of Vali to the west. The land scape from here on is mostly barren and shadeless, coming to life only during the flowering of the spring months.
At (9.6km) the road divides: the right branch leads down (1.2km) to the eastern shore at Kamari, the tiny harbour for crossing to the island and monastery of Aghios Minas opposite. The few resident inhabitants of the scattered community are mostly employed in the fish farm in the straits between the two islands. Set back from the shore to the northwest above the village is the church of Aghios Nikolaos, where, ranged in its precinct to the east and south, are nearly a dozen ancient columns and stones in several materials—a lightly veined and coloured marble, some white marble from the quarry at Petrokopio, and one column in Ikarian grey granite. These possess the shape and proportions of ancient pieces rather than of Early Christian architectural elements. They point to the existence of a settlement here, probably in Roman times, some of which is now submerged in the sea, and which must have been connected with the crossing point to the island of Aghios Minas.
From the junction above Kamari, the rough and shadeless road continues high along the ridge—offering dramatic views to Mt. Kerketeus on Samos —for a further 5.5km to Chrysomilia, banked steeply in a ravine high up above the shore. The setting of the town is enviable: the mountain masses behind protect it from the north winds; there are fine views to Ikaria; there is plenty of water, and the village is unexpectedly green. The winding 1.7km road that separates the harbour of Kambi below from the main village, passes the church of Aghia Triada, shortly below Chrysomilia to the south. The low church sits on a terrace constructed of finely cut isodomic blocks of local marble from the quarries at Petrokopio. These appear to have belonged to a sizeable Hellenistic tower on this site—evidence of the antiquity of this tiny and remote settlement. The waterfront of Kambi has a pebbled strand of limpid water, backed by trees. The road to Chrysomilia can be tiring to drive or to walk (3.5–4 hours). The best means of approach is by local cai―que from Fourni (Chora): it was, until 15 years ago, the only method of reaching this isolated corner of the island.
Fourni Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island Group, Greece.