Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have pinpointed the elusive factor that makes the ancient amphitheatre an acoustic marvel, the Archaeological News Network reports. It's not the slope, or the wind--it's the seats. The rows of limestone seats at Epidaurus form an efficient acoustics filter that hushes low-frequency background noises like the murmur of a crowd and reflects the high-frequency noises of the performers on stage off the seats and back toward the seated audience member, carrying an actor's voice all the way to the back rows of the theatre.


 
The research, done by acoustician and ultrasonics expert Nico Declercq, an assistant professor in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Georgia Tech Lorraine in France, and Cindy Dekeyser, an engineer who is fascinated by the history of ancient Greece, appeared in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

While many experts speculated on the possible causes for Epidaurus' acoustics, few guessed that the seats themselves were the secret of its acoustics success. There were theories that the site's wind--which blows primarily from the stage to the audience--was the cause, while others credited masks that may have acted as primitive loudspeakers or the rhythm of Greek speech. Other more technical theories took into account the slope of the seat rows.

When Declercq set out to solve the acoustic mystery, he too had the wrong idea about how Epidaurus carries performance sounds so well. He suspected that the corrugated, or ridged, material of the theater's limestone structure was acting as a filter for sound waves at certain frequencies, but he didn't anticipate how well it was controlling background noise.

"When I first tackled this problem, I thought that the effect of the splendid acoustics was due to surface waves climbing the theatre with almost no damping. While the voices of the performers were being carried, I didn't anticipate that the low frequencies of speech were also filtered out to some extent."

But as Declercq's team experimented with ultrasonic waves and numerical simulations of the theatre's acoustics, they discovered that frequencies up to 500 Hz were held back while frequencies above 500 Hz were allowed to ring out. The corrugated surface of the seats was creating an effect similar to the ridged acoustics padding on walls or insulation in a parking garage.

So, how did the audience hear the lower frequencies of an actor's voice if they were being suppressed with other background low frequencies? There's a simple answer, said Declercq. The human brain is capable of reconstructing the missing frequencies through a phenomenon called virtual pitch. Virtual pitch helps us appreciate the incomplete sound coming from small loudspeakers (in a laptop or a telephone), even though the low (bass) frequencies aren't generated by a small speaker.

The ancient Hellenes misunderstanding the role the limestone seats played in Epidaurus' acoustics likely kept them from being able to duplicate the effect. Later theatres included different bench and seat materials, including wood, which may have played a large role in the gradual abandonment of Epidaurus' design over the years by the Hellenes and Romans, Declercq said.
In ancient Hellas, violent internal conflict between border neighbours and war with foreign invaders was a way of life, and the ancient Hellenes were considered premier warriors. Sparta, specifically, had an army of the most feared warriors in the ancient world. What were they doing to produce such fierce soldiers? Craig Zimmer shares some of the lessons that might have been taught at Spartan school in this TEDed talk.


I get a lot of questions from readers, and most of the time, the answers are fairly short. When I feel the question or the reply would be valuable to others as well, I make a post with a collection of them and post them in one go. Today is one of those posts.


"Okay so I've practiced for a while, but I never feature any gods in my spells. I do say daily prayers to the Theoi, however, like before I sleep and when I wake (like how some people say grace over dinner), and I was wondering if that was alright."

Whatever suits you is alright to do. If you're asking if it's a recon approach then no, it's not. It seems you practice some sort of Neo-Paganism that includes spellcasting and the Theoi. Which is perfectly fine, especially when not combined! The daily prayers are definitely recon inspired, though, You're not giving me a lot to work with but from what I can figure out from these few words, you have got your own thing solidly down and that's brilliant!

~~~

"So I'm planning on taking a day and cleaning the family headstones. And I want to make offerings to the dead. Most of the dead I've never met so I can't give them their favorite food from life. What items would you recommend. And do you know of any short prayers/hymns/etc that I could use while cleaning to let the dead know they are not forgotten?"

First off, let me say that I love that you're going back to your family's headstones to clean them. that act alone matches very well with Hellenismos. The ancient Hellenes believed that as long as a person was remembered, they weren't truly dead. As the believe was that most people end up at the Meadows to wander forever, to be able to return to the surface when libated and spoken to was like a literal lifeline and families gathered at least once a year to honour the dead at the cemeteries. Most of their practices have been recorded in classical literature like for example here, in the Odysseia by Homeros:

“Perimedes and Eurylochus restrained the sacrificial victims while I drew my sharp sword from its sheath, and with it dug a pit two foot square, then poured a libation all around to the dead, first of milk and honey, then of sweet wine, thirdly of water, sprinkled with white barley meal. Then I prayed devoutly to the powerless ghosts of the departed, swearing that when I reached Ithaca I would sacrifice a barren heifer in my palace, the best of the herd, and would heap the altar with rich spoils, and offer a ram, apart, to Teiresias, the finest jet-black ram in the flock. When, with prayers and vows, I had invoked the hosts of the dead, I led the sheep to the pit and cut their throats, so the dark blood flowed.” [Bk XI:1-50]

So we know how it works: blood sacrifice in a pit, followed by libations of milk and honey, then sweet red wine, then water, followed by a sprinkling of barley meal. Prayers to the dead—most likely invoking them by name and the manner in which the person knows them—followed by a promise to do something for them if they appear to drink from the sacrifice and gain life for a few moments.  Then more animal sacrifices. It’s described, by the way, in the Odysseia that the ghosts only drink of the blood in the sacrifice—the life’s blood that makes them solid and restores their memories of life for a while.

I assume you aren’t raising the dead and simply want to honour them, so I am quite sure libations of milk and honey, followed by libations of wine and water and then a sprinkling of barley flour will do. Speak of your relationship to them and while you are cleaning, talk about things you remember about them or what you have been told about them. Make sure they feel remembered and included, that is what matters most. And to those whom you have not met, tell them about how their children’s lives were, or their grandchildren’s lives or how yours is. Tell them you have your family’s tell-tale nose, or that dry sense of humour. Tell them that you always wanted to be a baker or doctor or fireman like they were. Anything to form a bond and remind them of the good things about life and family. If you run out of things to say, list your favourite foods, tell them how a perfect summer day feels and the rain on your skin. Remind them of life and pay your respects. Make it a joyful occasion for both!

~~~

"Is it possible to be a soft polytheist and believe in the greek gods? I know this wouldn't be recon. I'm just wondering your opinion on this."

Yes, this is entirely possible. Many people have conflated Gods through the ages--most notably the Hellenic and Roman pantheons. There are ancient examples as well. Most Hellenists tend to stick to a hard polytheistic view but it's not needed to have if you want to honour the Theoi.

~~~

"Is it okay to not view the myths surrounding the gods as fact? For instance, when I read the creation of the universe or of humankind, I don't believe it as fact. Same with a lot of the myths, honestly. I view them as stories to understand the gods.""

Needless to say, at least to those who frequent my blog, I am very invested in mythology, and most--if not all--of my ethical, social, and religious framework comes from the accounts of ancient writers like Hómēros, Hesiod, and all the playwrights.

I believe in a form of literal interpretation of mythology. I believe that we are called to view the myths of the Theoi as a literal interpretation of the nature of the Divine, as well as history as a whole. What happened in the myths, literally happened.

Religion has the reputation of being un-scientific. By its definition, religion--the believe in something one can’t prove--seems the polar opposite of science. What I love about Hellenic mythology and philosophy is that it works with science

I have a multiperspectivalistic view of religion. Multispectivalism, in short, is an approach to knowledge that suggests that it is made up of multiple perspectives, none of which can grasp reality as it is. As such, the more perspectives one takes into account--biological, scientifical, psychological, theological--the better the overall picture one might have of reality. Multispectivalism in relation to religion thus implies that all reality can never be summed up under any one religion, concept, or perspective but is, in essence, a combination of all.

It means seeing the divine in everything. Lightning is just as much a scientific phenomenon as Zeus' mighty weapon cast down upon the earth. The little girl who guided Odysseus to the palace of Alcinous was just as much a little girl as the personification of Athena. The two overlap and co-exist. And as such, Hēraklēs' madness was brought on by Hera, and--at an even more basic level--Hēraklēs existed. He may have existed in multiple men, but there was once a man so powerful that he could only be the child of Zeus, and the many extraordinary things he did could only be attributed to a man aided by the Theoi.

Needless to say, this is my vision, my view, on Hellenismos, and it might not fit yours at all while we both honor the Theoi in a Recon manner. The thing that made me smile about your wording is that you say 'I view them as stories to understand the gods'. So do I. I believe the Gods are real so as an inevitable result I believe the stories of their deeds are real, too. At least within a multiperspectivalistic view.
So, the UK vote is in: everyone under 40 pretty much wanted to stay and everyone white above fourty pretty much wanted out. So this post is for you, generations that will have to deal with this mess. My sympathies are with you today. The true worth and value of a country is in its legacy.

Businessman Vasily Klyukin has been working on a conceptual architecture project for skyscrapers. At least, he was in 2014 as this is old news; I have no idea if the project has continued since then but that is not the point of this post. The whole project began after Klyukin bought a small building in Monaco which he then wished to replace with a tall tower that would become a landmark for the Principate.

In order to convince Prince Albert II, he began drawing original skyscrapers and towers with the aim of creating the most impressive and beautiful architectural landmark befitting the prestigious city-state. After working day and night for months and with the help of his friends, Klyukin (who has no formal training in architecture) came up with numerous highly ambitious designs for iconic buildings and towers, ranging from residential buildings to opera houses and hotels – all a manifestation of his firm belief that 'every serious building, in addition to a concept, should have its own story or legend.'

Klyukin’s designs are to say the very least, diverse; as they are mostly conceptual designs that are not planned to be built in the near future, they are also rather daring and experimental. His concepts include skyscrapers inspired by Ancient Hellenic statues, namely the Aphrodite of Milos and the Nike of Samothrace: considered two of the most celebrated sculptures in the world, for Vasily Klyukin they embody the essence of Beauty and Victory, two concepts that fit quite naturally with the ambitious spirit of designing such architectural legends.







Perhaps one day, these--or buildings like these--will truly be created and a touch of the Gods will return to our city's skylines. The point is: greatness remains, in both thought and practice.
The ancient Hellenic writers were dedicated historians, but they often neglected to mention the achievements of ancient Hellenic women. Now it so happens that I am a woman and I quite like having a few female heroes to look up to, so I want to introduce you to them. Today: the poet and warrior Telesilla of Argos.
Telesilla of Argos was a lyric poet of the 5th century BCE, listed by Antipater of Thesalonike (c. 15 BCE), the author of over a hundred epigrams in the 'Greek Anthology', as one of the great Nine Female Lyric Poets of Greece (along with Praxilla, Moiro, Anyte, Sappho, Erinna, Corinna, Nossis, and Myrtis). She was responsible for the metrical innovation of lyric poetry known as the Telesillean Metre. She is also said to be the masermind behind the defense of Argos when Cleomenes, king of Sparta, invaded the land of the Argives in 510 BC. He defeated and killed all the hoplites of Argos in the Battle of Sepeia and massacred the survivors, leaving Argos seemingly defenseless. Telesilla, however, organized all the slaves and women to the defense of the city and won (although it was mostly because the Spartans realized that fighting women and slaves would be very shameful and left).

First we must address her value as a very renowned poet. When Telesilla was younger, she was often sickly. She visited an oracle for help in restoring her health and heard that she should devote herself to the Muses. So Telesilla dedicated herself to the study of poetry and music. Her health did improve and she rose to great fame as a lyric poet. Of the considerable body of work she produced, only two lines remain extant as quoted by the ancient grammarian Hephaistion of Alexandria in his Handbook on Meter (c. 96 CE). References to her, however, appear in the works of Pausanius (c. 110-180 CE), Plutarch (45-120 CE), Athenaeus (c. 3rd century CE), and the work Bibliotheca ascribed to Apollodorus of Alexandria (2nd century CE), among others. She was an extremely influential artist who is always cited with respect by other ancient authors, no matter the subject. Antipater writes in the 'Greek Anthology':

"These are the divine-voiced women that Helicon
fed with song, Helicon and Macedonian Pieria's
rock: Praxilla; Moero; Anyte, the female Homer;
Sappho, glory of the Lesbian women with lovely
tresses; Erinna; renowned Telesilla; and thou,
Corinna, who didst sing the martial shield of Athena;
Nossis, the tender-voiced, and dulcet-toned Myrtis —
all craftswomen of eternal pages. Great Heaven
gave birth to nine Muses, and Earth to these ten,
the deathless delight of men." [9.26]

Now, the tale of how she organized the salvation of Argos. Some background first. The Spartan king Cleomenes I consulted the Oracle of Apollo on what would happen if he marched on Argos, and he would be victorious if he tried. So Cleomenes I took to the field and met Argives at Sepeia. He tricked his way to victory, killed most of the warriors and murdered those who fled by more trickery and cruelty, even going so far as to set fire to a sacred grove where they had sought refuge. After the massacre, Cleomenes I  marched on the city. Telesilla heard of what had happened to the men of the army and mobilized the women, youth, and elders of Argos for defense. Plutarch writes in his 'Moralia':

"Of all the deeds performed by women for the community none is more famous than the struggle against Cleomenes for Argos (494 B.C.), which the women carried out at the instigation of Telesilla the poet. She, as they say, was the daughter of a famous house, but sickly in body, and so she sent to the god to ask about health; and when an oracle was given her to cultivate the Muses, she followed the god's advice, and by devoting herself to poetry and music she was quickly relieved of her trouble, and was greatly admired by the women for her poetic art.

But when Cleomenes (I), king of the Spartans, having slain many Argives (but not by any means seven thousand seven hundred and seventy seven [cf. Herodotus, VII.148] as some fabulous narrative have it), proceeded against the city, an impulsive daring, divinely inspired, came to the younger women to try, for their country's sake, to hold off the enemy. Under the lead of Telesilla, they took up arms, and, taking their stand by the battlements, manned the walls all round, so that the enemy were amazed. The result was that they repulsed Cleomenes with great loss, and the other king, Demaratus, who managed to get inside, as Socrates [FHG IV, p. 497] says, and gained possession of the Pamphyliacum, they drove out. In this way the city was saved. The women who fell in the battle they buried close by the Argive Road, and to the survivors they granted the privilege of erecting a statue of Ares as a memorial of their surpassing valor. Some say that the battle took place on the seventh day of the month which is now known as the Fourth Month [tetartou], but anciently was called Hermaeus among the Argives; others say that it was on the first day of that month, on the anniversary of which they celebrate even to this day the 'Festival of Impudence', at which they clothe the women in men's shirts and cloaks, and the men in women's robes and veils.

To repair the scarcity of men they did not unite the women with slaves, as Herodotus (VI. 77-83) records, but with the best of their neighboring subjects, whom they made Argive citizens. It was reputed that the women showed disrespect and an intentional indifference to those husbands in their married relations from a feeling that they were underlings. Wherefore the Argives enacted a law, the one which says that married women having a beard must occupy the same bed with their husbands." [245c-f]

The reference to 'women who have beards' above is thought to refer to the women who fought for the city as though they were men and then refused to return to their former status as subservients. as such, laws had to be enacted to restore the community to the traditionalsituation that existed before the battle and the rise of the women in defense of Argos.

Historians have questioned the validity of the story of Telesilla and the Spartans for centuries, most notably because Herodotus, in Book VI of his Histories, writes about Cleomenes’ assault on Argos and the massacre of the Argives, and even references the oracle, but does not mention Telesilla. The credibility of women and slaves manning walls to attack invaders is also often called into question, even though there are historic accounts of women and slaves in other cities doing the same. After all, many ancient Hellenic cities lended themselves very well for this type of assault from above.

What happened to Telesilla after the battle with the Spartans is unknown, but she was remembered for her heroic achievement for centuries. Clement of Alexandria (c.150-215 CE) preserved an earlier poem regarding her heroism which contains the lines:

"They say that the women of Argos, under the leadership of the poetess Telesilla, by their simple appearance put to flight the Spartans, strong at war, and made themselves fearless in the face of death."

Her reputation for courage was such that, almost 700 years after the event, she continued to be remembered and honored for it as well as her poetry. In the city of Argos, a stele of her was errected in the temple of Aphrodite. Pausanias writes in his 'Periegesis Hellados':
"...and in front of the seated statue of the goddess is a stele engraved with an image of Telesilla the writer of poems. These lie as though thrown down beside her feet, and she herself is looking at a helmet which she holds in her hand and is about to put on her head." [II. 20 8]
I have a recipe up on my blog for honey cakes, which consist of barley flour, water, clear honey and olive oil. I have also mentioned I have a rather serious grain intollerance. Needless to say, the two don't match. So, for a while now, I have been using an adapted recipe and I can't believe I haven't shared it with you guys yet! Yesterday I got an ask on Tumblr that prompted this realization:

"Hi Elani! I was curious....I am a Hellenist and for the Noumenia celebrations, I really wanted to make honey cakes to sacrifice to the Gods (using the recipe posted on your blog). My issue is that I have a gluten intolerance that is agitated by eating glutinous grains like barley. Would it be appropriate to switch the barley out for a grain I'm capable of eating? I know it wouldn't be as "authentic" but if I were to partake in sacrifices, I'd have to eat it. What do you think?"

I can't eat grains of any kind and I did want to partake in the sacrifice--I find that part of the sacrifice more important than using ingredients the ancient Hellenes would have had access to--so I made my own recipe long ago. It is based off of the recipe for honey cakes but uses coconut and tapioca flour instead and it doesn't use olive oil although you can add a drop once it's done. I have found that adding it to the recipe keeps them from firming up enough not to break once taken off of the tray. Without it, they stay nice and firm and a little gooey on the inside. Delicious! The recipe below makes one hand-sized cake or, like I ususally do, four smaller cookies, the size of an Oreo.

Ingredients:
- 10 grams of coconut flour
- 5 grams of tapioca flour
- 5 grams of honey
- luke warm water

Let me run through these real quick. Cocunut flour is one of the few non-grain flours that sucks up moisture and becomes a paste. It's a thickener and you need that. Tapioca flour is what makes the cake crispy on the outside but gooey on the inside. You can use 15 grams of coconut flour but it won't come out as nice, in my opinion. you can use more honey if you want but it'll mess with the consistency a bit. Also: coconut flour is very sweet already and you really don't need more than 5 grams for the taste. I'll show you what it needs to look like below, but you add water until the consistency of the dough is crumbly but sticky. Just add a liiiiitle bit at a time. Make sure the water is a little warm to help the honey dissolve later on.

Once you are done with the dough, you need to form it into the shape you want. The dough will want to fall apart just a little but you can use a knife to press it down and scrape it off of the counter to add to a baking tray. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and slide the plate into the center. Turn them after 5 to 7 minutes, when the edges start to brown. You might have to scrape them off and turn them carefully! Then bake them until the new top edges have browned again, probably another 5 to 7 minutes.Voila! Honey cakes!

 
Coconut flour, tapioca flour and luke warm water mixed to a crumbly consistency

 
With added honey--you really don't need more than this for consistency or flavour

 
Oreo sized cookies or one big one

 
Bake until the edges turn golden, then turn with a knife to bake until the edges are golden again

 
Done! Crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside and deliciously sweet!

I woke up to another rainy day today. I say 'another' because it's been pretty much raining non-stop here for the last two weeks or so with a record 15 consecutive hours of rain yesterday. As such, I also woke up dreaming of Greece's pearly white sandy beaches and its plentyful sun. Care to take a small vacation with me, everyone? I'll be dreaming of these places today.

Daily Telegraph presented the best 17 beaches in its special ‘Travel Destinations’ section:

1. Myrtos, Kefalonia


One of Greece’s best known beaches – thanks, in part, to its starring role in the film adaptation of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (it’s where the Italian soldiers make merry and the location of the mine explosion). It’s particularly photogenic viewed from the headland to the north. Other recommendations on the island include the rust-red sands of family-friendly Xi Beach, on the south coast, which offers watersports and a couple of smart tavernas, and wild Petani Beach, on the west coast, which rivals Myrtos for its spectacular location

2. Shipwreck Beach, Zakynthos
Probably the most photographed beach in Greece, Navagio Bay, as it is also known, is a picture-postcard arc of white sand and pebbles accessible only by boat, where you’ll see the hulk of a cigarette smugglers’ ship that beached there 30 years ago.

3. Váï, Crete
Also know as Finikodassos (Palm Forest), this gently curving golden sand beach is backed by Europe’s largest natural palm grove – some 500 densely clustered trees in an oasis fed by a stream – which have stood here for more than 3,000 years. It might even look familiar – this is where the “taste of paradise” Bounty bar advert was filmed in the early 1970s.

4. Halikoúnas, Corfu
 
Essentially a duney sandspit dividing the open sea from brackish Korissíon lagoon, Halikoúnas is one of the wildest, most unspoilt beaches on Corfu, stretching 3km southeast to the little Venetian-dredged canal joining the lagoon to the Ionian.

5. Sarakiniko, Milos
 
Another of the country’s most photogenic beaches, Sarakiniko is backed with volcanic rocks whipped into otherworldly shapes by the sea breeze. Milos lies in the Cyclades island group and can be reached by plane or ferry from Athens.

6. Egremni, Lefkada
 
The west coast of Lefkada – an Ionian island that lures thousands of sailors and watersports fans each year – is dotted with beautiful beaches. Egremni, a couple of miles south of Athani, is arguably the finest. Long, sandy, and backed by sheer white cliffs, it is never crowded, largely thanks to the 355 steps that visitors must negotiate to reach it (and the absence of a WC). The shingle beach of Porto Katsiki, a little further south, is equally dramatic but there’s just 100 steps to contend with. Pefkoulia (sandy) and Kathisma (shingle), on the northwest coast, are excellent options for families.

7. Psilí Ámmos, Patmos
 
Meaning “fine sand”, it is just that – some 200m of it, with a selection of tamarisks for shade. “It’s only accessible by taxi-boat from Skála or an hour’s round-trip hike on a good, signposted trail from an impromptu car/scooter park at the Diakóftis isthmus,” adds Marc Dubin. “Although the sand shelves gently, it’s a reliably windy place with gentle surf. The southern third of the cove has traditionally been naturist. At the north end is a single taverna (late May-Sept), offering goat meat from herds on the surrounding hills

8. Hovolo, Skopelos
 
While the beaches on Skopelos are largely shingle or pebble, they are picturesque, backed by rocky green hills, and quiet. The closest to the capital is Glysteri, on the road north out of town and reached via a scented valley dotted with olive trees, but the best are found on the west coast. Limnonari, on the coastal road north from Agnontas, hemmed in by rocky headland, is as close to a truly sandy beach as you’ll find. Kastani, a key Mamma Mia! filming location, is equally pretty – but is the only place on the entire island that gets overcrowded. For real solitude, rent a motorboat from Panormos, and head north – you’ll find beautiful spots all the way up the coast (such as Hovolo, Ftelia and Neraki) that are inaccessible to cars and subsequently occupied only by other couples who have rented motorboats, and the occasional determined German naturist.

9. St Paul’s Bay, Rhodes
 
Another of Greece’s best known beaches is this spot on Rhodes, in the shadow of Lindos and it acropolis. Expect it to be busy in high season.

10. Elafonísi, Crete
 
“You’ll have seen it on posters or brochures long before you arrive, so will have no trouble recognising it,” writes Marc Dubin, our Greece expert. “A low islet tethered to the most southwesterly point of the Cretan mainland by a slightly pink-tinted sandspit, the two cradling a shallow lagoon with tropical-turquoise water.
” Don’t expect to have it to yourself, however. “Everybody and anybody goes – it’s one of the most promoted days out in western Crete,” he adds. “Stay the night in the nearby eponymous hamlet to derive more relaxation from the place.
”

11. Grias to Pidima, Andros
 
If a trip to the beach is all about escapism, Andros might just be for you. It’s rugged, mountainous and uncrowded – but has some stunning beaches. Among the most striking is Grias to Pidima, dominated by a large sea stack.

12. Voidokilia, near Costa Navarino, Messinia
 
This horseshoe-shaped beach is a short drive from the brand spanking new resorts of the Costa Navarino – but steeped in history. Above it are the ruins of thirteenth-century Frankish castle, while it is believed by many to be the “sandy Pylos” referenced in Homer’s Odyssey.

13. Kamári, Santorini
If you like your beaches golden, Santorini might not be for you. Almost all feature dark-grey volcanic sand. “Kamári is the most manicured and amenitied,” says Marc Dubin. “There are other top-drawer strands at southeast-facing Perívolos, which has beach bars pitched at a younger crowd and is found immediately south of busier and narrower Períssa. “Also notable are Baxédes, the only real beach near Oía, and scenic Kókkini Ámmos cove near the ancient Minoan site at Akrotíri, with reddish-purple sand but very crowded.

14. Pori, Koufonissi
“The sandy beaches that rim Ano Koufonissi’s south coast give onto cerulean blue sea of a hue that seems confined to artists’ palettes, seemingly impossible in reality,” writes Jane Foster. “Hidden away between the larger Cycladic islands of Naxos and Amorgos, Koufonissia (plural) is made up of two tiny islets, Ano Koufonissi (Upper Koufonissi) and Kato Koufonissi (Lower Koufonissi), which are separated by a 200-metre sea channel. While Kato Koufonissi remains uninhabited, Ano Koufonissi, with its whitewashed Cycladic cottages, has a buzzing little community of 366. Locals live mainly from fishing – it is claimed that there are more boats than residents – there are no real roads and hardly any cars, so everyone either walks or cycles.” For lesser-visited Greece, Jane Foster also recommends Stoupa, on the Mani peninsular.

15. Orkos, Kea
 
One of the nearest islands to Athens, Kea “draws on a civilised clientele of Athenian weekenders and second home owners in retreat from the city”, according to Adam Ruck. Its beaches are all quiet. “Rather than build new roads to remote beaches, the Keans have restored ancient mule tracks and waymarked them for hikers,” explains Adam. Pictured above is one such example, Orkos, although he also suggests taking the path from Kato Meria to the site of ancient Karthea – “90 minutes down, two sweaty hours back up. Fragments of column on a promontory between two empty beaches are all that remain standing of this powerful city state, a sacred site to rival Delos and Aegina.”

16. Karavostási
North-westerly Epirus is still unknown to many tourists. It shouldn’t be – not least because Karavostasi Beach, 15 miles north west of the little town of Parga, is a slice of Hellenic heaven, its half-mile of golden powder caught between two forested headlands.

17. Lalária, Skiathos
 
Little Skiathos is blessed with beaches – but you need to be in an adventurous mood to lie on Lalaria. Fixed to the north coast of the island, with a rock arch, it cannot be reached by road. You need a boat, or a pair of hiking boots.

Edited: as I posted this, the sun came through....