South to Aghios Ioannis Thermastis
At 2.2km from Fourni harbour, and 600m along the road to Aghios Ioannis Thermastis from the main junction above the town, an unsurfaced road leads down the mountainside to the right. The junction is at a very panoramic point, high above Elidaki Bay. In the hillside, not far below the main road, are the remains of a large marble quarry: the main cut in the hill is clearly visible. The quarry can be entered by taking the unsurfaced road which branches off to the right and doubling back down a path towards the area after a short distance. It would appear that the quarry was opened in Antiquity and has been worked sporadically until recently: there are the remains of later quarry workers’ houses on the hillside opposite. The different areas of running striations, which in places vary slightly according to tools and methods, mark the successive campaigns of cutting down the vertical quarry face. The marble produced is of a clear white quality, and the darker surface of the quarry face is caused simply by natural patination. In some way, this site must have produced a different and preferred quality of marble to that of Petrokopio, which is a short distance beyond in the next bay: this is the only way to explain the continued use of a quarry which presented far greater logistical difficulties than Petrokopio, which was down at the shore and therefore substantially easier for transport and loading. From here, the long winding ‘piste’ or road which connected the quarry to the loading area and barges down at the shore—and which can still be traced on the left side of the valley between the quarry and the bay, even though it is now much overgrown—was the laborious route for transporting the cut stone.
Following the branch road south and east down the mountainside into the next bay along (1km), the *ancient quarry of Petrokopio, with its abandoned shipments of cut stone on the beach, soon comes into view—clear and gleaming like an image from a painting by De Chirico. This is one of the best-preserved and most instructive an cient quarries in the Aegean area—fascinating and mov even for the non-specialist, for the picture it gives of ancient industry. The quarry itself is large and divided into two principal zones by a sharp wedge-like projection of natural rock. The signs of working, and the sharply shelving ledges are visible on all sides. The latest area to be opened would appear to be just outside the main quarry to the seaward side. At the entrance on the shore below are the abandoned pieces awaiting shipment—column drums, capitals, a large sarcophagus (unhollowed), corner elements for an architrave—all stacked together to one side. They do not yet have any of the detailed carving which they would have been given at their final destination: their contours have been softened by wind erosion. Some distance away, in the rocky north corner of the bay is a single column drum (visible as you descend the last few metres of the road): this may indicate that the blocks were rafted over to this point to be loaded in the great er depth of water here which better accommodated the draught of the barges. The marble of Petrokopio has a very pure and vein-less white colour, but with an icier and slightly more bluish tinge to it than Naxiot and Parian marble. It patinates naturally, however, with a warm, rosy ochre colour, which can be observed here in the quarry, as well as in the marble sarcophagus in the plateia of Fourni town. This was a large and productive quarry, and much of the marble which came from it was used in buildings in Ephesus. The beach is composed solely of naturally smoothed and bleached pebbles of this pure and crystalline material.
After returning to the main road, it is a further kilo metre around the slopes of Mt Vardia, to the church of Aghios Ioannis Theologos (3.3km), situated amongst windswept tamarisks, on a narrow ridge with views out to sea both to east and west. A large sloping, stone-paved apron in front of the church collects rain-water in an underground cistern and serves also as a winnowing area, taking advantage of the ever-present cross-winds at this point.
At (6km) the road south ends at the tiny fishing village of Aghios Ioannis Thermastis at the head of a sheltered bay. One kilometre east of here, across the southern head land of the island, is Vitsilia Bay with a secluded shingle beach.
Thimaina which faces Fourni to the west, is sparsely in habited and little visited. The island takes its name from the abundance of aromatic wild thyme, whose smell at times fills the atmosphere. Its harbour is particularly sheltered; the tiny settlement above the jetty is grouped around the parallel churches of Aghios Nikolaos and Aghios Ioannis Theologos: the community’s tiny cemetery is at the southern end of the harbour-bay. There are no tavernas or licensed rooms for rent—only a smallfood store. The walk up the eastern side of Mt. Tsimbes to the hermitage of Aghios Giorgios, affords beautiful views of Fourni and the sea beyond especially towards sunset. The F/B Samos Spirit runs between Fourni and Thimaina twice weekly on its way to and from Ikaria and Samos .
Fourni Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island Group, Greece.