Italians are known for their love for Greece, especially the Greek islands. A new travel book, Due Settimane nelle Cicladi, (Two Weeks in the Cycladic Islands) written in Italian now offers new options and a guide for places less discovered to all Italians who love the white and blue colours of Cyclades.
The author, Gabi Ancarola, travelled to the Cyclades and discovered different aspects of the most popular islands: Santorini, Naxos, Paros, Antiparos and Mykonos, as well as the less known but equally beautiful: Sifnos, Serifos and Amorgos. In her book she presents places that not everyone talks about, shares information about the culture, geography and gastronomy of each island and suggests different things to do. Readers will find an itinerary of two weeks to these islands with an extra week divided between Athens and Hydra for those having more time available.
Gabi Ancarola is a translator, travel writer for GreekTV, Huffington Post, Greek Reporter and other websites, and travel blogger at thetinybook.com. Being a mother of two boys has not stopped her from making her dreams come true. She recently moved from Italy to Crete, she travels the world, she does what makes her happy and she inspires to her children the love for life and travelling.
In the following interview she talks about her book, her travels and her life in Crete:
Hi Gabi! First of all, I would like to ask you about your story. How did you decide to move to Crete?
I’ve always believed in the fact that Greece is a beautiful country, and much of that beauty has to do with the Greeks.
Me and my family had been coming to Crete for our holidays year after year for a while, we fell in love with the island immediately and it became the place where to go whenever we could. We always loved the contrasts on the island, the landscape of the mountains, rough and authentic, as well as the seaside beaches, some of the most beautiful we’ve ever seen. We also liked the different cities, big and chaotic, such as Heraklion, relaxed and picturesque as Chania. The food is also to die for, simple but genuine and tasty. But the thing I most love about the island has always been the Cretan people. I’ve always believed in the fact that Greece is a beautiful country, and much of that beauty has to do with the Greeks. In Crete that’s even more evident. I still have to find in this world something as deep and sincere as Cretan hospitality. I still have to find a Cretan person not honouring that tradition. After many trips we realised it was time to stay. And that we did.
How is life on a Greek island?
Life is completely different from life in any big city, rhythms are relaxed and there’s not an urgent need to rush from morning to evening. On the island it is easy to live in complete balance with nature. The seasons become a part of you. Life on the Crete, specifically in Chania, is also busy, there are always interesting things to do, shows, exhibitions or museums to visit. The good thing of being on such a big island is that the place does not close for winters. There’s always something going on and it makes me forget I’m on an island, to be honest.
Tell us about your book. How did you come up with the idea of writing about the Cycladic islands?
I think I still haven’t found an island I don’t like, every one of them has a unique character worth discovering.
I have always loved the Greek islands. Yes, Crete has been love at first sight, but that does not mean the other islands are to be disdained. I think I still haven’t found an island I don’t like, every one of them has a unique character worth discovering. The book was a proposal by the publishing house and I soon realised it allowed me to talk about different destinations in just one volume. It was also easy to make a wider public happier with many islands than with just one. The decision came easy, the Cycladics were going to be our first try and apparently it was a good decision: I’ve been told the book is doing very well.
Did you find big differences between the islands you visited?
An endless amount of differences, and that just makes me want to keep exploring them and… why not? Keep writing. The only point I found they have in common is a unique beauty, very much authentic even in the more popular spots. The secret remains to go off the beaten track, talk with the locals and sometimes visit off season.
Can you find one word or phrase to describe each one of them?
Santorini: Beauty, If I wouldn’t live on Crete, I’d live in Santorini, probably my favorite Cycladic island together with Naxos.
Naxos: Balance between land and sea, mountain and culture.
Paros: Perfect for family holidays
Antiparos: Serenity, probably the best place to spend sometime “offline”
Mykonos: If you manage to leave chaos behind, Mykonos will surprise you
Sifnos: Cycladic elegance at its best
Serifos: Adventure perfectly balanced with relaxation
Amorgos: Lonely and mysterious
Did you travel with your children? Would you suggest the Cycladic islands for family vacation?
I’ve found that Greek people love kids, so travel with them is easy and moms are able to relax.
I visited all of the islands I wrote about with the kids, and they loved each of them for several reasons, there was no place they did not enjoy and yes, I would definitely suggest the Cyclades for holidays with kids. Ferry travel is relaxed and easy, it’s possible to combine less islands so as to be really certain that kids take the most of them, you do not need to do 5 or 6 islands in fifteen days! Kids are loved all over Greece, very much cared for (sometimes even a lot)! I’ve found that Greek people love kids, so travel with them is easy and moms are able to relax. Besides… I still have to meet a child that doesn’t go mad for Gyros!
You also wrote about Athens in your book. What do you suggest visitors to do in the city, apart from visiting the Acropolis?
Athens has some of the most magnificent museums in the world, amazing art galleries and cultural centres.
There’s so much to do in Athens that time is always an issue when visiting the city. At least for me it is. My suggestions would vary according to people’s likes and dislikes of course, but Athens has some of the most magnificent museums in the world, amazing art galleries and cultural centres. For the younger visitors I’d suggest bouzouki nights and choosing one of the many night venues, there’s always so much going on in town. There are also many tours (some of them free) you can take to see different aspects of the city, food tours, street art, Whenever I visit I make some time to visit the Public Market on Athinas Street but also to wander around the streets of Psyrri. Some of its corners remind me a lot of my home town, Buenos Aires.
Are you planning to publish your book in other languages?
It is definitely in my plans, as I usually write for an English speaking audience, but we will see. One thing is for sure, my next book is going to be about Crete, and it will definitely be published in English as well as in Italian.
Which destination are you planning to visit next?
Our next trip is probably going to be another Greek island… or two. My blog has taken an all-Greek path and I’m very excited about it, I honestly do not feel like being anywhere else in the world for the time being. I will probably make some time for the Sporades next summer, but there are some talks going on so as to also include some mainland Greece destination.
Where can travelers buy your book?
Readers living in Italy can get the book in the ViaggiaAutori online shop. For those living out of Italy, they can get in touch with me through my blog and I might work miracles with international delivery.