Around Alopronia

Nature left both Folegandros and Sikinos as fortresses in the sea with steep slopes and cliffs at almost every point on their perimeters. The harbour of Alopronia or ‘Ano Pronoia’, in the middle of the south coast, is the only con cession to a partially sheltered approach on Sikinos: even so it is exposed to the strong winds that drive from the south across the Cretan Sea and can leave the island inaccessible for days on end. The inlet has an attractive, sandy beach and a valley of relative fertility stretching behind it, watered by the spring of Bonama which rises beside the road, 1.4km to the north of the shore, at the foot of the steep rise leading to the ridge of the island. The spring was a rarity for an island that had otherwise to exist on wells and stored rainwater. High up on eminences to the west overlooking the valley are two of the oldest churches on the island, both of which contain vestiges of late mediaeval painting, suggesting that the island knew some prosperity in the 14th century. The easiest to reach is the church of the Panaghia ‘Sykia’, which is a 30-minute walk up the track leading steeply to the northwest from the main road, just north of the port. The low undulating structure of the church, with a high belfry over its west door, sits on an outcrop of unusual and attractively brecciated pink rock. It is a simple barrel-vaulted, single aisle structure with a transverse narthex. Along its south exterior are two deep vaulted niches which would appear to be the arcosolia of important tombs. The church dates from the 14th century, and the patches of attractive but unsophisticated wall-painting in its interior date from shortly after. They are painted in strong earth-colours: the Presentation of the Virgin can be clearly seen on the north side and, to the south, the figures of saints—Aghios Merkourios and others. Around the church are the re mains of a small settlement, indicating that it was once the centre of a small monastic community. Visible on the next hill-crest to the south is the small church of Aghios Nikolaos, dating from the first years of the 14th century, which also contains similarly fragmentary wall-painting. Though close as the crow flies, the church can only be approached by a long sweep west around the head of the ravine, which takes the best part of 40 minutes.  
   Along the coast from Alopronia, are a couple of tiny and secluded coves for bathing, accessible by foot: Dialiskari (45 mins) to the northeast, and Aghios Panteleimon (90 mins) to the southwest across the ridge of the Raches Katergou. Both have clear water, shingle beaches, but little or no shade.

Sikinos Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.

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