Ysternia Village @ Tinos

A visit to Thalassaki in Tinos is always worth the visit and at this time of the year Tinos is coming down from their high. The drive from the port is an easy and relaxing 25 minutes by car. The drive takes you along the seashores winding up and over cliffs past the landscape Tinos and her rock formations.

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This tafone is a small cave shaped granular rock with rounded entrances and smooth concave walls. Tafoni often occur in groups that can mark a hillside and are found in all climate types.

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Passing Ysternia’s village this time we decided to stop in and visit this small village perched above the steppes above the bay. From the car park you walk the village made of marble steps, as the main street that goes right into the village.

This village was once upon a time (50 years ago) a thriving village with multiple bakeries, artisians and villagers including schools for children. I am told there were more than 300+ children living there, and it was one of the largest villages of the island, located in the western part of the island.

It was settled since the 1600’s and reached its peak in the early 2Oth century, and was one of the major centers of marble art and produced notable sculptors such as the Fitali brothers. They were five brothers from Isternia, Georgios, Markos, Lazaros, Ioannis and Charalambos, who were born from 1826 to 1834.

Sculptor Georgios Vitalis was also born in 1838 at Isternia. At first he is an apprentice at the workshop of the Fitali brothers and later attended the School of Fine Arts in Munich. He worked as a sculptor in Alexandria receiving gold medals for his work both in Greece and abroad.

Yet today marble artisans are not important, the focus nowadays has changed dramatically and the world is taken over by electronics, a quick fast instant fix – what can we do?

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Marble artisans are a thing of the past and today the city is almost completely abandoned except for a few corners of interest. Worthy of a visit because you still feel its richness walking over the marbles underneath my feet. I can’t help to feel a sorrow when you think about how importance of tradition has vanished in such a short period of time.

The area we walked (I was told) had three bakeries and today not one exists. Peeking through the windows we see the old charm of the buildings and as Adonia reminisces about the past.

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The history of the Ysternia is easy to see over the doorways and each one signifies the owner and the dates.

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The village of Ysternia has a charming church at the top of the hill with one of those views overlooking the Aegean.

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For a longtime Ysternia seemed lost without and luckily today you have two small cafes that opened recently. The one is charming with a terrace overlooking the landscape, Aegean and the hills. We take a seat to soak the views and drink a homemade lemonade. We are offered a traditional sweet, a spoon sweets preserves, served on a spoon, as a gesture of hospitality in Greece and this is vanilla sugar.

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The terrace is mixed with some locals twisting their beads backwards and forwards, and some tourists taking in the sunset, enjoying the authenticity of a Greek village courtyard.

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The sun sets and the temperatures drop with the winds whistling over the hill tops, as we walk back to our car and head home. The perfect day in Paradise.

Note: by the way his there is a wonderful walk down to the beach to Ystérnia, it starts just opposite the bust of Bishop Hiëronymus, where a trail begins to the left through a breach in the wall.