All roads lead to Filoti, Naxos

by Samantha Bacchus McLeod

Every season is separate and distinct in Filoti, and every season has its reasons for being, for celebrating the gifts of the land and its people.

Filoti Village was built in an ingenious way to allow the inhabitants to hide away in the mountains when they saw marauders heading in their direction – pillaging and pirating of the island of Naxos was the normal not so long ago…time is fluid here. Not so long ago would be considered anytime between 4th century BC to less than a year ago. This island was conquered many times throughout its history, but that does not mean the people were. What the conquerors and marauders did was, they left a proud people behind. Naxos has absorbed a little bit of every culture that came by, but Naxos will always be Naxos.

Filoti has to be my favourite village on the island, it is situated high in the mountains and it has a geographical anomaly of being 30 minutes to every place of note on the island. I like to say all roads lead to Filoti.

First place to start is Hora, or Naxos Town, with the Venetian kastro high above the waterfront’s vibrant lifestyle. The old town is an intricate web of steep footpaths; you will see the evidence of two historic Venetian neighbourhoods: Bourgos (derived from the Italian word borgo, meaning fortified settlement) was the bourgeois district of Naxos in the Middle Ages and after., and the hilltop Kastro, where the Roman Catholics lived.

Naxos at sunset

After you have enjoyed the Hora (Naxos Port city), rent a car, or hop on the bus and head up mountain to explore the real life of Filotians. Here, you will meet real people living real lives; farmers, shepherds, cheesemakers, tavernas and cafes owners, chefs and cooks, weavers and artists, and of course white and blue collar workers too. Here also you will meet Athenians returning to a simpler life in the village, bringing a little bit of modern Athens with them, just enough to upscale but not change the village culture.

Filoti is the past and the future, and I pray it stays that way. As the world claws backward to save itself…Filotians cruise along doing what they do best…living a seasonal and sustainable life.

Every season is separate and distinct in Filoti, and every season has its reasons for being. Take for example the cheesemaking season in the springtime. This is when the lambs are popping out and up all over the fields and suddenly every ewe is bloated with milk, too much for the lambs. The first thing the mamas did, in the old days, was fire up the woodfire and start the cauldron a-boiling. Today, both men and women are cheesemakers.

This is also the time of year when the orange trees are laden with fruit and the tender shoots of the rosemary hedges are perfuming the air. The butcher makes loukaniko…a delicious Filoti grown pork that is seasoned with orange scent and rosemary. This sausage is slow grilled until it is crispy on the outside and bursting with the fragrant umami juices of free-range-organic pork.

A view from Filoti of the sun setting into the sea

Wild flowers turn the mountain ranges into blankets of pink, blue, yellow with intricate patterns created by white wildflowers. There are almost 1,000 recorded flowering plants on the island and they all spring up in spring. Then there are the herbs coming up. In Greece, life without oregano would be like erasing Plato. The ρίγανη (rigani) is stirred and sprinkled into every part of Greek history. Want to make some authentic Greek dishes? MyGreekDish.com is great place to source recipes.

By the way, one of the best go-to places in Filoti for authentic local cuisine is 44 Miles, owned and operated by Costas and Despina. This wife and husband team, formerly of Duetto Restaurant, brings the same level of service, the same level of authentic, carefully crafted dishes using seasonal ingredients, and the same level of warm welcome they were known for at Duetto. Did you know, even The Globe and Mail Travel section has mentioned Despina and Costas’s restaurant?

Despina and Costas 44 Miles

Duetto, Filoti. Authentic local cuisine is served in a welcoming atmosphere on the leafy main street of Filoti.

Filoti is not just a village on Naxos island, Filoti is the heart of Naxos Island. That said, stay connected to read about all the other gorgeous villages on Naxos island.

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