Labours of Love

After a few fraught days Symi’s recent water crisis seems to be over for the moment. As the island steadily fills up with high season visitors Symi’s limited water resources, dependent as the island is on the desalination plant on the Pedi road and the occasional visit from a water ship from Rhodes, require very careful management. This is why Symi does not have infinity pools, rolling lawns and golf course hotels.

Vine and Water Meter near the Top of the Kali Strata

Symi Festival Posters on the Kali Strata, the 19th Century Main Street that
Connects Chorio and Yialos

What Symi has instead is one of the most uniquely beautiful neo-classical amphitheatre harbours in the world. Rows of prettily painted houses in shades of ochre and terracotta with touches of the blue they call ‘loulaki’, linked by a grid of steps and lanes, climb the cliffs and rise up into the old town of Chorio.

Ruin with Morning Glory in Central Chorio near Giorgio and Maria's Taverna

If you are visiting Symi and staying down in Yialos or Harani do make sure that at some point in your stay you take the bus or a taxi up to Chorio to explore the old Symi that predates the 19th century harbour. The upper town is also protected by the Archaeologia and despite serious damage during the Second World War is a fascinating labyrinth of small houses in the vernacular style, many of which have been built one on top of the other over the centuries into a veritable warren of tumble down rooms, kitchens and cisterns. Some have been lovingly restored by people who are prepared to pay the vast expense involved but many others still remain ruins. Apart from the amount of bureaucracy involved due to the architectural restrictions, many of these places cannot even be reached by donkey train due to the narrowness of the lanes and all building materials have to be man-packed from the nearest vehicle or donkey access point. Labours of love indeed.

Have a good weekend.



Marcy –   – (Sunday, July 25, 2010)  

They certainly were labours of love. I just returned from three weeks on Symi, staying at my children's house in Chroio, which they have recently inherited from their father, a Canadian architecture professor of Greek birth and origin. I felt an immediate connetion with the beauty around me andwith the traditional architecture of the area. Chorio is also fun in a modern way, with at least one (probably several) internet cafes and many nice tavernas. Despite the challenge of the walk home for three women in their late '50's and late '60's, it was a wonderful place. I shall return next year.

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About this Blog

I sailed into Panormitis Bay, Symi, by chance one windy July day in 1993 and have been here ever since. The locals tell me that this is one of the miracles of St Michael of Panormitis. A BA graduate with majors in English, Philosophy and Classical Civilisation, the idea of living in what is to all intents and purposes an archaeological site appeals to me. Not as small as Kastellorizo, not as touristy as Rhodes, Symi is just the right size. I live on a small holding which my husband and I have reclaimed from a ruin of over-grazing and neglect and turned into a small oasis over the course of the past 22 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

This page is kindly sponsored by Wendy Wilcox, Symi Visitor Accommodation.

Adriana Shum

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