Borghi magazine ~ the discovery of the fantastic world of italian medieval villages

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Oia. Endless sunset

Oia. Endless sunset

Seen from Ammoudi Bay, Oia (pronounced «ía») seems lying on an unstable balance on the brink of the 'caldera', the crater invaded by the sea in the II millennium B.C., due to a volcanic explosion. The narrow alleys, crowded and noisy in the summer, return in winter at the usual silence of secluded places. To escape the crowds we have strayed a little bit from the center, withdrawng ourselves under a tavern's porch. Seated at a table of Roka Kafeneio Ouzeri, we took our dose of wind, while the day died on a homemade zucchini cake with mint and fennel.

Toward Oia, the isle of Santorini becomes so tight to see both its sides. And if Fira, the capital, is all white, Oia is coloured. The blinding white lime here is married with the ochre, the orange, the blue and the pale pink of the walls. And within the landscape, in addition to the blue domes of the churches, appear the windmills. We get to the top of the cliff on which is located the village through a landscape barren of indian figs, oleanders, cultivated fields and small shrubs. The houses of Oia, dug in lava, with their warm pastels communicate happiness, as a rock enlighted by the sun or resist to the wind on the deck of a ship. In some homes the frames of doors and windows are of red travertine; when instead the details are blue, imitating the sea nuances that surrounds everything.

The streets are paved with white marble. The wellness arrived here in the half of the Nineteenth Century, when the local sailors kept relations with the Eastern Mediterranean, Alexandria of Egypt and the Holy Russia. It says that the fleet of Oia had reached 130 units. To dominate the sea from high are the houses of the captains of vessels and fishing vessels; the lower part of the village, facing the cliffs, belongs instead to the sailors and the hubs, that in the niches of the rock dug dwellings like caves. These, in the years, were transformed in touristic houses. But the vaulted ceilings and the smooth stone floors betray their origin.

St Nicholas' church, dedicated to the patron saint of sailors, has a front in stone. From the churchyard we stare at the blue sea with the eyes of an owl, Minerva's favorite animal. The 'pale-eyed' goddess was the goddess of clarity, of clear reasoning, as limpid as appear today the sky, the sea and the whole world from the perspective of Oia. The dionysian intuition of universal pain leaves space to the apollinean vision, to calm and serenity of this landscape where all is perfect: the infinite sea, the wind that mitigates the warm, skin that breathes undressed from the winter, light so intense to gift a happy, blind and sensual lethargy. We pass in front of a small church of the fifties in beige, blue and antique rose. We know we're sitting on a volcano. The profile of the caldera is well visible from the water. Tomorrow we will go toward the village of Imerovigli, partly destroyed by the last eruption of 1956, to escape the confusion of people waiting for the sunset. Oia, it says, the Sunset has no equal in all the Cyclades. The show, we rather to wnjoy it alone on a deserted road.

ph. Geneva Bacilieri