Spending a week at Montofoli Wine Estate was an experience I shall never forget. It remains etched in my heart as a memory that ignites love and awe each time I recall it. The immense grandeur and stylish chic of the estate and the whole local region with its breathtaking views, its calm winds, its resident croaking frog called Hercules, its sleeping cats under Bougainvillea on ancient paved stones with noble pillars and in the cool shade of antiquities from the living archaeological site, its expansive vineyards and ancient wine cellars, lush citrus groves and it’s clear view of the milky way at night – are things that beckon me back to spend more time there. This spectacular place oozes with ancient memories and loving restoration, coupled with the gracious hospitality of its owners – which make it a place I would recommend to anyone seeking beauty, quiet and connection to the ancient history of our ancestors.
It comes as a surprise to me that Karystos, which is well off the beaten tourist path, should have such a multitude of excellent restaurants. But our first meal turns out to be a kind of high tea at 6 pm. Marianne welcomes us in the roofed terrace area with home-cooked left-overs: the best bakaliaro skordalia (fried cod with garlic sauce) I think I’ve ever gobbled, spinach pie, and salad remnants. And yet, just a few hours later, we have plenty of room for the area’s best lamb chops, greens, and fries at a rustic taverna in Aetos, in the hills above Montofoli. That evening, after Pavlos’s talk in the enchanted circle, our host takes us through the vineyard where liatiko grapes are red and ready to pick, and then into the former church/stable/cellar where a dozen or so barrels of sweet wine lie ageing. We have a degustation and then pile into three cars to go down to the port for another feast. As we’re basking in the Karacostases’ generosity, I think how grateful I am to be part of this eclectic group; to have shared meals and stories with new friends from such different backgrounds. It’s possible that we will come together again, to enjoy the Montofoli experience, a rare treat filled with history, views, swims, delicious meals, and delicious wines, and spiked with passion.
Montofoli Wine Estate is the closest thing to heaven I have experienced. History meets culture and authenticity. Being the only archeological site in which you can lodge makes staying at Montofoli even more magical, time stands still in the estate and across the city, a perfect place to unwind and enjoy true greek hospitality on the highest and personal level. I fell in love with the location and I will make it a tradition to come back and unwind here every summer at least!
The elegant Marianne Larsson-Karacostas and her polymath husband Paulos Karacostas have lovingly transformed an historic property once fallen into ruins. With patience, attention to detail, and respect for the land and the spirit of the Montofoli estate, they have created a sublime retreat to restore one’s spirit. Set into a hillside above their ancient citrus groves and vineyard, famed for its prize-winning sun-dried sweet wine, the magnificent Venetian manor house with its Ottoman addition connects to the vineyard by a long, wide stone staircase, flanked by two lions, and running down to the vines. Ancient Greek columns lie about the gardens where lavender, rosemary and mint scent the air, and terracotta urns artfully grace stone walls and terraces. Pink geraniums, peach roses, loquat trees, Cyprus and pine trees create arbors for the birds. Church bells and sheep’s bells and bees add to the bucolic atmosphere. To stay at Montofoli is like stepping into a 19th century painting, but the accommodations are comfortable and beautifully appointed. Each cottage has unique charm and privacy as well as a well-equipped kitchen, stocked with coffee and tea. Marianne delivered a sumptuous basket of delicacies for our enjoyment: her glorious marmalade, honey, an enormous hunk of delicious local cheese, bread, wine, eggs, yogurt, apples, clove-studded biscuits, tomatoes. Both Paulos and Marianne devoted so much time to answering our endless questions about Greece and Greek politics as well as to helping us plan our visit, recommending superb restaurants, hikes, drives, beaches, but we ended up spending more time enjoying the sublime peace of the estate. One feels the Greek (and Swedish!) spirit of hospitality in Marianne and Paulos’s attention to their guests’ comfort. We have traveled widely for many, many years, and our experience on Evia and the Montofoli estate in particular was exceptional. The spirit of ξενία, xenía, the ancient Greek “guest-friendship” is alive at Montofoli.