Le Corbusier once said that architecture is the learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in the light. If that is the case, exploring the hinterland of Santorini one stands before a revelation, the puissance of architectural creation. Upon this island, scathed by the grandest geological adventure, the pathways, the adobes, the courtyards and the elements of human presence compose astounding sculptural complexes and stereometric forms where light and shadow perfectly attune. What the eye sees and gauzes soars beyond artificial perfection, one thinks they are witnessing reflections of a modern piece of abstract geometric art.
The Theraic land or Aspa -as locals call the harsh cohesive soil created by layers upon layers of volcanic matter, cinder, lava, limestone and rust – the rainwater, the brine, the basalt, and porphyry may seem to be mere materials to the visitor, from which the arched canaves and natural infinity pools of world-class retreats were constructed. Yet, the islanders like refer to it as their “heartbeat”, one that the traveler can taste in the air, the dark waters, and in their own favorite fuels- wine, capers, tomatoes, fava beans, and figs. Both homely and seductive, tranquil and filled with blissful nooks and crannies, Santorini makes one feel good to be alive.
As the sun rises so does movement, a wake-up kiss for the narrow passageways that wind between the mosaics of colored roofs, the endless labyrinth of curving streets bursts into a crescendo of beeps, donkey caravan chimes and pannier carrying crowds who have found their perfect niche (with distractions that vary from extensive sun-soaking in the sand bookended by rocky cliffs, to wine-tasting, hiking to the top of the volcano, reef diving, and enjoying a cold donkey beer in the shade). The locals, impervious to the high-summer din, their faces beatific, their smiles welcoming, will introduce the “Xeno” (the foreigner) to their families and lives without making you feel like a clumsy intruder. Promising to return the soonest I set the alarm for a pre-dawn cycle to the caldera which simmers with active sulfates that spew out of the ground and make for a spectacular atmosphere. Can’t think of a better place to be stranded.