There is only one way to travel back in time and experience old Greece up close: take a ship and get off at Fournoi!
The place is pregnant with history: there are ancient finds scattered throughout the island dating back to the Ionians, Classical and Hellenistic times. The Cyclopean wall with traces of an Acropolis on the Hill of Ai Giorgis, the ruins of the ancient temple at Kamari and the remains of homes on the sea bed, the shrine to Poseidon at Agia Triada in Chryssomilia, the ancient quarry at Petrokopio. An ideal base for pirates in the Middle Ages, due to the hundreds of small fjords and hidden beaches where their ships could be concealed, Fournoi were once called “Corseoi Islands”, after corsairs, i.e. pirates.
As a matter of fact, Fournoi is not just one island, but a formation of small ones, of which only two are inhabited: Fournoi and Thymaina. Islands of fishermen and bee keepers, they provide visitors with all basic comforts.
Campos, the island's main village, offers tavernas, patisseries, shops selling traditional products, a soft drink bottling workshop (the local orange soda is everyone's favourite refreshment here) and, of course, bakeries (fournoi in Greek).
The main occupation of the locals, however, is not related to the land, but to the sea. The island has a large fishing fleet – disproportionate to its size – and has developed into one of the most important fishing centres in the Aegean. For this reason it is heaven for those who love fish in their diet, with unique opportunities to enjoy top quality fish, such as the Common Dentex, the Pink Dentex, the Common Pandora, the Dogtooth Grouper, as well as sea food and lobsters.
Each of the island's hamlets has its own character. In Chora, with its whitewashed mulberry trees and central square cafes, homes are still built on tiers above the harbour, with whitewashed alleys and people surrendered to a calm and peaceful pace.
In Kampi, just a kilometre away, next to the three windmills – a landmark of the island – you will see more newly erected buildings that are used as hostels or hotel apartments. The beach, with fine sand and salt cedars casting lush shadows, is an easy choice for a swim for those who have already adapted to the snoozing that is part of life on this land.
The real revelation, however, is Chryssomilia. Just 15 kilometres from Chora, it composes a paradise of peace and quiet, with many beaches all around and the most picturesque fishing boat haven in the whole of the Aegean.
The shoreline of Fournoi, with countless coves and canals that stab inland, like knives, into the island, is 120 kilometres long. Ideal moorings for all weather are Kamari, Elidaki, and Bali. Wonderful beaches for swimming are Psili ammos, Vlychada and Vitsilia.
A stroll in little Thymaina and enchanting Keramidou should not be missed by any visitor to Fournoi. A small independent island of 150 people, unaffected by the tourism development of recent decades, it generously offers images of authentic peace and serenity to anyone who chooses to explore it.
Before leaving the island where time has stopped, do not forget to take with you the coveted Fournoi honey, which owes its renown to the abundant thyme and sage that thrive on the island, as well as local cheeses “in wax” and “in brine".