Greece reborn: reversing the fortunes of a ghostly mountain village
With just nine residents, the Peloponnese retreat of Vamvakou was on the brink of extinction. Now it’s at the centre of a multi-million-euro project to lure back tourists and transform it into a tech hub
At first glance, Vamvakou seems like many other mountain villages in the Peloponnese, with pretty, stone houses and cobbled streets fanning down to a large square. But Vamvakou is no ordinary village. In fact, it’s at the centre of an ambitious plan to revive the fortunes of Greek mountain villages, many of which are on the verge of extinction.
In 2016, Eleni Mami and her husband Anargyros Verdilos (who is from Sparta, but has roots in the village) were holidaying in Vamvakou when they decided they wanted to do something to stop the village’s seemingly inevitable death. In summer, the village was a hive of activity when the Vamvakite diaspora descended on their ancestral homes. But during winter, only nine older residents remained, custodians of a village that, like so many in Greece, was slowly but surely disappearing.
“We didn’t want that to happen, we wanted to resist,” says Eleni, when I meet her at Vamvakou after a three-hour drive from Athens.
The village might have been in decline, but one piece of good fortune was to help Eleni in her quest. Vamvakou was the birthplace of the parents of Stavros Niarchos, a billionaire Greek shipping tycoon, who bequeathed his fortune to his namesake foundation when he died in 1996. Eleni approached the foundation in 2017 with her proposal for turning Vamvakou from a dying summer retreat into a sustainable working village that would attract new residents, as well as visitors.
Read more here https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2022/oct/12/greece-reborn-vamvakou-peloponnese-village-holidays?utm_source=eml&utm_medium=emlf&utm_campaign=Email_Roundup20102022_UK&CMP_TU=mrtn&CMP_BUNIT=holys