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Sporades: Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonnisos, Skyros
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Skiathos is famous above all for its dense pine woods and its magnificent sandy beaches. While the island's south coast has intense tourist development, the sparsely inhabited and densely wooded north has been affected hardly at all. There are abundant walks to be made in the peace and shade of the hills in the interior. The deserted Byzantine settlement of Kastro, on a pinnacle of rock overlooking the sea at the northernmost point of the island, is a magnificent and dramatic sight. Skopelos has the greatest depth of all the Northern Sporades islands, with its self-sufficiency, richness of architecture and commercial vitality. The appealing wooded coastline has coves and beaches and there are deep forest valleys in the interior. The town has an attractive and varied domestic architecture and an unparalleled number of interesting churches. In the hills to the north, east and west of the Chora are over a dozen monasteries. Alonnisos has a stronger scent of pine and wild oregano in its air than almost any other island. Its waters are limpid, its forests are intact and its coastline is indented with enchanting coves and beaches. The island is the centre for the Northern Sporades Marine Park, the largest marine conservation area in Europe, set up to protect the habitat of the monk seal and other marine life in the scattering of beautiful islands to the north and west. The tenacity to tradition on Skyros affects all aspects of life - local song and music, the decorating of houses, the breeding of horses, the preparing of cheese, the nature of festivals. The north of the island is fertile and densely wooded, while the south is wild and rocky. The island's beautiful Chora is rich in a wide range of history and at Palamari is one of most important and impressive Bronze Age sites in the Aegean. The island is home to an ancient and unique breed of wild pony and there are quarries of a flamboyantly coloured marble that was exported in large quantities to Imperial Rome, while the south of the island has the moving and solitary grave of the young poet Rupert Brooke.
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About the Author

Nigel McGilchrist lectures widely in art and archaeology at museums and institutions both in Europe and in the United States. He was Director of the Anglo-Italian Institute in Rome for six years, taught at the University of Rome, for the University of Massachusetts and was for seven years Dean of the joint Faculty of European Studies for a consortium of American Universities and Colleges. In recent years he has been lecturing at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC and at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in California. Over the last six years he has walked every path and village of the sixty inhabited Greek Aegean islands in order to prepare the twenty volumes of McGilchrist's Greek Islands. He lives near Orvieto in Italy where he produces olive oil and red wine.

Reviews

Delightful, well-observed, literary accompaniments to the Greek islands, by a British scholar.A" The Economist,Books of the Year 2010 So evocative and informative, one hardly needs to go... Lovely...A" Bettany Hughes, Sunday Herald - Books of the Year2010 A remarkable achievement - a complete, island by island, 3,000 page survey of all the historical monuments in the Aegean...A"Barnaby Rogerson, Country Life Wonderful... superbly structured; immense learning elegantly, unobtrusively offered; and outstandingly well writtenA" Prof. Jon Stallworthy, Wolfson College, Oxford

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