What is Amoni?
In English, Amoni means “anvil”, and the headland jutting out between Mikro (small) Amoni and Megalo (big) Amoni does resemble an anvil when you look at a map of the area.
Megalo Amoni beach
How to get there? Just go out of the gate, stopping to admire the huge, old, and very productive olive tree, and turn right. The little path through the trees will take you to the east end of the beach, where there are plenty of pine trees for shade, and a few benches. The stone table with benches is usually occupied in the summer months by old men playing backgammon. This is one of their main pleasures in life, so we try not to hold it against them.
Right in front of the backgammon/picnic table is a nice, shallow patch of fine shingle/sand which is ideal for small children, and in the mornings it’s shady for them. Just behind the beach there is a slide and a few swings for the children.
If you feel like walking along the beach to the western end, there are some benches there too, and shade is provided by the tamarisk trees. Sometimes, early in the season, there may be a few sea-urchins in the shallows so you need to watch out for them a little.
At this end of our little bay, the water is deeper, and it continues on to the left right down to our favourite fish-taverna, “To Amoni”. It’s an easy and safe swim. ( You can walk here too, if you are fit.) The whole bay is quite sheltered from strong winds. At this west end of the bay, all along the rocky coast, it’s worth doing some snorkelling since there is quite a variety of little fishes, sea urchins to be picked from the rocks, if you like them, and you may sometimes see a small octopus. On the hottest days, it’s so calming and cool to swim along underwater.
In case you’re wondering, not all sea urchins are edible. You need to look at them very closely and pick out those that have a slight mauve (or red or brown or green tinge). The jet-black ones are male, and they aren’t edible. You can prise them off the rocks with a knife, and then cut them horizontally to open them. You scoop the orange (coral) part out and eat it with a few drops of lemon juice and olive oil. A dish of them as a meze (hors d’oeuvre) is a Greek delicacy.
Another delicacy that the Greeks are very fond of is wild greens, for a boiled salad, so if you see a Greek lady wandering around near the olive trees outside, with a little knife in one hand and a plastic shopping bag in the other, she will probably be gathering some of these.
You may be surprised one day to see a herd of goats being driven past the house, coming up from the sea. This puzzled me a little, but when I asked the goatherd he explained that they are taken each year by boat (!) to a small nearby island to graze freely and then returned, again by boat, to summer foraging on higher land. They look as though they enjoy their little trek.
If you are lucky, you may see interesting wild life in the area near the villa. An eagle often hunts, and has been seen to swoop down and kidnap a magpie. There are foxes of course, and in the summer a Scops Owl can be heard in the evening. I’ve been lucky enough to see on several occasions a kingfisher sitting on the rocks at the east side of the bay, and there is usually a pair, or even family, of what seem to be small cormorants. Some people, but not me, have seen a monachus monachus seal, again on the east side of the bay and near the rocks.
Lizards abound, and there are the inevitable cicadas in the hot weather. You may see small geckos high on the walls of the house outside. These eat insects, and are completely harmless. Pretty, small birds can be seen according to season, and some nest in our bushes each year.
The other beaches at Amoni are:
Mikro Amoni, Frangolimano, and Kalogerolimano. They are all good and safe for swimming.
Frangolimano is a good place to visit on hot summer evenings as the sun is going down, because there is a very pleasant little stone-paved square right on the water’s edge, like a balcony and you have a clear view out to sea. There’s a nice atmosphere for sitting, eating and chatting.
On summer evenings there is a (clean) canteen with a few tables in the square, where you can have a simple meal of souvlaki or sausages, fries and a nice salad, with beer and perhaps followed by an ice-cream. We are told that this is soon to be upgraded to a fish tavern, which is good news.
Our particular favourite, especially on the hottest days, is Kalogerolimano , which you can reach in five minutes by car. You go to the top of our little street, and turn left. There is a signpost, and you can’t get lost because the road simply follows the coast. When you come to the end of the tarmac road, there is a short slope to the right and then down again to a space where you can park near the olive trees. Then it’s a minute or two on foot to the (stony) beach.
If you like walking, and it’s not too hot, it’s very enjoyable to take a swimsuit and towel with you (and a bottle of water) and walk to Kalogerolimano beach. There are a few spots on the way where local residents have built stone steps for access to the sea, and these are very tempting too.
As you walk, if there isn’t a heat haze, you can see a multitude of tiny islands in the distance. It takes about 30 minutes to walk there, and when you reach the end of the road and climb the short track to get a view of the beach below, I think you will agree that it’s a really beautiful spot. Half of the beach is deeply shaded by pine trees. There is no food or drink to be had there, as it’s almost completely unspoiled. The hills covered with olives and pines rise up in the distance and reach all the way to the main Corinth-Epidaurus road. If you want to continue walking, the path through the olive grove near the beach takes you along the coast, but it doesn’t reach as far as Korfos. You will probably meet a flock of goats grazing among the trees if you take this path.
Leaving Amoni, and returning to the main Epidavros-Corinth road, you turn left and in a few minutes reach the turnoff for the village of Sofico. Before the first houses were built in Amoni, it was the place where the inhabitants of Amoni took their olives to be pressed for oil, and also fished. The old olive press was ext to the beach, below the Amoni fish tavern. Unfortunately, there’s nothing left of the old traditional olive press.
As you go inland to the pleasant village of Sofiko, you see wooded hills all around. It’s possible to get to Mycenea over the mountains, passing through the high villages of Angelokastro and Limnes.
Sofiko has two butchers’ shops, two chemists’ shops, a post office, bakeries, and several small self-service stores, among others. There is a farmers’ market for fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, local honey (in season), clothing items etc.
You need to be there by about 9 or 10 in the morning to catch the market. In summer, in the mornings, there is usually a lady with a truck selling fruit and vegetables. There are several places to eat in the village. We’ve been a few times to To Koutouki tou Katsoumba which is a friendly, family-run business. It’s in the main road of the village, as are all the eating places.
As you leave Sofico and continue towards Epidavros, there is a nice tavern on the right hand side: To Steki . They do very good charcoal-grilled meats, also lamb on the spit and kokoretsi. They have a shady veranda that’s very cool on summer evenings. In the winter, there is a huge log fireplace. They serve their own olive oil and wine, and wild greens in season. Usually we eat well there, and sometimes exceptionally well. Friendly people, and it’s a favourite with locals.
Continuing on the same road, we very soon come to a sign indicating the road to Korfos, off on the left. Korfos is a popular seaside village, and it’s very nice to go there for a drink in the evenings. There are bars and fish tavernas right on the seafront, where there is a busy little marina. There is a (small) playpark for little children, and a few shops.
Most people go there for the fish, but if you go for lunch it’s best to go as it gets very hot in the afternoon in summer.
If you continue to Epidavros, I think it needs no introduction from me.* Note that for 2018 the archaeological sites that should be open on a summer schedule after Easter will still be on the winter time-table until the end of April (or until further information is given). This is another manifestation of the economic crisis in Greece. To avoid disappointment I would advise you to telephone the site or museum you want to visit, before you set out.
As well as the magnificent ancient amphitheatre, and other antiquities, it’s worth visiting the old port of Epidavros, with its restaurants, small shops, and cafes. My favourite place to swim there is Kalamaki Beach, which you can reach by the seaside promenade to the left, after the fish taverns, (on past the large prickly-pear bush and the church ). It’s a nice walk, about 15 minutes. Take a bottle of water with you. Pine trees, shade, a natural secluded beauty spot.
Epidavros should not be missed in spring, when the orange trees are all in blossom. The scent is quite intoxicating. Also, make a point of driving up the mountain above Epidavros, to admire the magnificent view below.
Even further afield - Day trips
After Epidavros, there are many choices.
There’s a turn-off to the left towards the volcanic peninsula of Methana and the attractive island of Poros (a short ferryboat ride across from Lemonodasos ).
At Methana we usually eat fresh fish at the pretty little port of Vathi. You can climb up to the crater of the volcano, but it is not spectacular. Nice walk, if it isn’t a hot day.
If you don’t turn off for Poros, but continue uphill, a good place to stop for lunch is Koliaki, where the “Vrisi tou Davela” taverna/butchers’shop has good home cooking, often using their own home-grown vegetables.
You can then continue south down to the resort of Porto Heli, and Ermione. From Costa you can get a sea taxi (speed boat) across to the island of Spetses.
Water Taxis are available all day and all night. They can be found moored right in Dapia harbour and also at Kosta on the mainland, as a way of getting to the island.
There is a price list by the steps and they work in rotation i.e taking the nearest one moored, first. They can also be pre-booked and there is a list of telephone numbers by the price list. You may also be able to negotiate a special price on one of the larger water taxis for a group of passengers wishing to have a round trip day out.
They operate to anywhere on the island (beach wise) and will also go to anywhere along the edge of the mainland, opposite Spetses. They are also very popular for whisking people back and forth to the old harbour late at night.
Off to the right before Porto Heli is the well-known prehistoric cave of Frangthi, and the nearby very beautiful small beaches of Salandi. We swam there for the first time last summer, and the sea was perfect. We just followed the coast road in the direction of Tolo, and parked the car at what looked like a promising small beach. Only two other people were there, and the turquoise sea and the view of the coast of Arcadia across the bay were inspiring. We went down to nearby Kilada for lunch in a fish restaurant, as someone told us that he tavern at Salandi isn’t very good.
Another popular destination all-year-round for a day trip (and my favourite) is Nafplion, with its picturesque houses and its many restaurants, bars and cafes. There are all kinds of shops in the modern part of Nafplion.
If you’re visiting Sparta, in Messinia, (it’s about 90 minutes from Amoni) and if you like Byzantine architecture in a natural setting, I highly recommend a trip to nearby Mystras. If you want to explore it all, you need to be quite fit, but even a visit to a few of the lower churches and monasteries is well worth it, especially in spring and autumn. We went once in October and it was beautiful, but very hot.
Other places of interest are Corinth, mostly for its antiquities, and I personally would recommend a trip to Perahora, which is near the seaside resort of Loutraki (some will prefer to visit the casino, for which Loutraki is famous). You can swim and then eat fresh fish right at the water’s edge at the Lake of Vouliagmeni, noticing the point where the sea water enters the lake, and then go on to the interesting and very picturesque remains of the ancient Temple of Hera, and then have another swim –the temple is right next to the sea.