Ancient ruins and modern wines

No more rain … today (May 20) began with bright sunshine and beautiful blue skies.  Unfortunately, it was also the day we left Santorini!  Sigh … well, we’ll just have to come back sometime.

But before we left, it was absolutely necessary to experience the ancient history of the island of Thera.  Known as the Pompeii of the Aegean, the city at the site now called Akrotiri was covered in volcanic ash in about 1627 B.C.  Remember the volcano I talked about yesterday?

Unlike in Pompeii, however, it is clear that the people of Akrotiri had time to leave in a calm, orderly manner, as most of their belongings and all the people were removed before the great eruption.  They must have had plenty of warning, probably in the form of earthquakes.

What did they leave behind?  The buildings, of course; a few pots and pieces of furniture; and some absolutely beautiful frescoes.  The frescoes have been removed and reconstructed at a museum.  Our guide showed us pictures of the frescoes, and you can see them at this very good blog:

http://arthistoryblogger.blogspot.gr/2012/08/the-frescoes-of-akrotiri.html

It’s clear from the architecture and frescoes that the people of Akrotiri were well off and lived relatively comfortable lives.  They even had well-engineered indoor plumbing, with bathtubs and toilets.  Not bad for the 17th century B.C.!

Everything excavated so far is covered with an ecologically designed building that provides shelter and a fresh, cool climate for artiquities and people alike.

Everything excavated so far is covered with an ecologically designed building that provides shelter and a fresh, cool climate for antiquities and people alike.

As large as the building is, it is estimated that only 5% of the city has been excavated.

As large as the current site is, it is estimated that only 5% of the city has been excavated.

The layers in the foreground are ash.  In some spots the ash is as deep as 40 meters.

The layers in the foreground are ash. In some spots the ash is as deep as 40 meters.

Reconstructed clay storage jars

Reconstructed clay storage jars

Plaster casts of wooden bedframes that rotted inside the ash

Plaster casts of wooden bed frames that disintegrated inside the ash

The remains of several bed frames were found in the streets.  The excavators believe that the people coming back to clear out the citizens’ belongings would sleep in the street in order to be safer in case of further earthquakes.

Shifting from the ancient to the present day, we moved on to two wine tastings.  Yes, two!  I know, it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

First we visited the Koutsoyannopoulos Winery and Wine Museum.

No, I can't pronounce it either.

No, I can’t pronounce it either.     p.s., those are mannequins. 🙂

The entrance to the museum: spooky!

The entrance to the museum: spooky!

Animatronics

Animatronics in a labyrinth eight meters below the surface of a Greek island = an experience.

After learning about the history of wine production at the winery, we tasted four of their wines.

The best part: it was above ground.

The best part: it was above ground.

Santorini wineries produce wines unique to the island.  One such wine, Vinsanto, is made with grapes that have first been dried.  It tasted just like raisins (alcoholic raisins, of course).

After emptying our pockets for their best wines, we moved on to … another winery!  For lunch.

Could we have some food, please?

Yes, this is a lovely place.  Could we have some food, please?

At the Boutaris Winery, they offer a full meal with wine pairings, rather than a simple wine tasting.  Once again, everything was tremendous.

Tomato fritters!  I must figure out how to make this.

Santorini dried peas with … you guessed it … tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and bread.  I haven’t gotten tired of that yet!

A big ol' piece of meat!  We were reminded of Nebraska.

A big ol’ piece of meat, and a side of potatoes! We were reminded of Nebraska.

For dessert, a jellied fruit that Tala described as "somewhere between an apple and a pear."  There is no direct translation to English.

For dessert, a jellied fruit that Tala described as “somewhere between an apple and a pear.” There is no direct translation to English.

The grapes on Santorini aren’t grown on trellises, and they aren’t watered.  They subsist from the dew that forms each morning, and are trained to grow in a basket shape on the ground.

Yes, those are pumice stones.  The volcanic soil holds no moisture, but is highly rich in nutrients and creates very tasty wine.

Yes, those are pumice stones. The volcanic soil holds no moisture, but is highly rich in nutrients and creates very tasty wine.

On Santorini, we were never far from the sea.

On Santorini, we were never far from the sea.

Once we were stuffed full of pork roast and tomato fritters, we got back on the bus and headed for … the port!  It was time to leave Santorini and head for our next stop: Crete.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Ancient ruins and modern wines

    • Based on the amount of moisture that appeared on our bathroom floor after a shower (and not from spilling!), I can see how they get enough water. It’s amazing!

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