IKARIA



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Ikaria - Aghios Kirykos and the South coast - Pramnian wine

Pramnian wine
It was into a concoction based on cheese, fresh hon ey and Pramnian wine, that Circe poured the potion which was to turn Odysseus’s men into swine (Od. X. 635). In fact, Homer mentions the wine more than once, always indicating that it was mixed with grated cheese or barley: Plato, Aristophanes, Hippocrates, Diogenes Laertius and Athenaeus also describe or re fer to it. But common to them all, is the suggestion that the wine was almost never drunk pure or for refreshment, but was most often used medicinally for its highly nutritive qualities. What can such a wine have been like? Athenaeus of Naucratis, the connoisseur of all matters of the palate, describes Pramnian wine thus (Deipnosophistai, I.15): ‘it is a kind of wine that is neither sweet nor dense, but with a sharp and astringent and powerful taste’ He goes on to relate how Aristophanes was wont to say that the effete Athenians never took any pleasure either in hard and steadfast poets, or in Pramnian wine, or indeed in anything difficult which might ‘contract the stomach or cause a frown’. The wine was apparently ‘black’, was endowed with the ‘power to assuage anger’ and matured when left to stand, according to Hesychius of Alexandria. Eustathius, in his commentaries on Homer, says it was ‘not for quenching thirst, but rather for alleviating satiety’—perhaps somewhat like a modern digestif. Hippocrates and Galen speak of its therapeutic qualities, both for external application as an unction (Hippocrates) and for internal consumption (Galen). Much later, the French Jesuit missionary, Jacques-Paul Babin, again described the wine as ‘hard’, but added that the island had ‘the best winter grapes I ever encountered, being round and red, and growing between the rocks in such dangerous places that they are gathered with considerable hazard’. (The same Fr. Babin was astonished to note that the islanders of Ikari­a rowed their boats naked, explaining to him that clothes were an impediment to them and wore out too quickly when rowing.)
   It is hard to find anything today on Ikari­a that corresponds to this impressive variety of qualities and descriptions: indeed it would be unusual for such a type of wine to have remained unchanged through out so many centuries. Interestingly, however, the use of a warm drink of red wine heated with barley in it can still be found in winter among the older rural inhabitants, both here and on Samos . It remains only to experiment with adding grated sheep’s cheese to find something that might possibly have seemed familiar to Odysseus.


Ikaria Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island group
The Pramnian wine.


Random information you might what to know about Ikaria Island
Homer and the Ikarian Sea
Monument to Icarus

 


 

access

Ikaria Island, Greece.

By air: Ikaria now has a small airport at the eastern tip of the island, connected to Athens by a mid-afternoon flight every day, except on Mondays: an airport transfer bus connects flights with Ag. Kirykos 11 km away.
By boat: Ferries between Piraeus and Samos serve both of the island"s two ports – Evdilos, on the north coast, almost daily, by either fast boat (5 hours, summer only, from Piraeus) or slow (8-9 hours, year-round); and Aghios Kirykos, on the south coast, with 3 connections a week on the Samos-Piraeus route.
The F/B Samos Spirit also stops at Ag. Kirykos on its way between Samos and Fourni 3 times a week;
and in the summer there are fast, Flying Dolphin hydrofoil connections (1 hour) to and from Pythagoreio on Samos, 4 times weekly, dropping to 2 weekly for the half-season months of April, May, September and October.
Caïques leave Ag.Kirykos most afternoons during the summer for Fourni, and on Mon, Wed and Fri for Manganitis and Karkinagri, at the western extremity of the island.

Ikaria Travel Guide

eating

Ikaria Island, Greece.

For a variety of local and traditional dishes always freshly prepared, Christos Chazàlas"s Taverna "To tzaki", in Glaredo (2 km west of Aghios Kirykos) is much to be recommended; in Aghios Kirykos itself, the tiny Taverna Klimataria, under a vine pergola, a couple of blocks in from the harbour, serves good soups and oven dishes, and is justly favoured by locals for its good value. There are several good tavernas at Kato Raches overlook the site at Nas: Taverna "O Nas" has the best view, but the food is more imaginative and homemade in character at Anna"s Taverna. In Karkinagri, the fresh fish is generally excellent at Perkas Restaurant.

Ikaria Travel Guide

lodging

Ikaria Island, Greece.

The island’s nicest hotels are not to be found in either of the ports.
At Therma, the Agriolykos Pension (T. 22433 & 22383; www.island-Ikaria. com/hotels/agriolykos.asp), very quiet and set in a delight ful garden of tamarisks with wide views, is at the top of a flight of steps above the north end of the bay. Rooms are small and simple, but have air conditioning. (Note: access is only by foot, and bags will need to be carried up to the hotel.)
In Therma town, the Anthemis Hotel (T. 22750 23156 & 23377) is simple with adequate rooms, and has helpful and friendly owners. Both hotels are inexpensive.
The island’s smarter hotels are mostly in the area of Armenistìs: the Hotel Erofili Beach (T. 22750 71058-9; www.erofili.gr : upper price range) has large, comfortable, and well appointed rooms overlooking the sea front and the pool: it is a good hotel, but the breakfast is somewhat disappointing and the reception decidedly cool.
Just outside Armenistìs, on the way to Nas is the charming Hotel Daidalos (T. 22750 71390-2), looking west out to sea:
next door to it, and of equivalent standard but more old-fashioned, is the Cavos Bay Hotel (T. 22750 71381-3; www.cavosbay.com.gr ). Both of the above are in the medium price range. Those seeking real peace and quiet might explore Tzamoudakis Rooms in remote Karkinagri (T. 22750 91217 & 91327).

Ikaria Travel Guide

practical info

Ikaria Island, Greece.

83 000
Ikaría: area 255 sq.km;
perimeter 107 km;
resident population 8354;
maximum altitude 1037 m.
Port Authorities: Aghios Kirykos T. 22750 22207,
                           Evdilos T. 22750 31007.
Travel and information: Municipality of Aghios Kirykos T. 22750 24047;
Nas Travel, T. 22750 71396.
www.island-Ikaria.com

Ikaria Travel Guide

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