Exploring the Island of Santorini by Car

(Excerpt from my book, The Artist on the Road: Impressions of Greece)

Today, we’ll rent a car to explore the rest of the Island. Ancient Thera is the only archeological site open, since Akrotiri’s roof collapsed a couple of years ago. This is unfortunate because that’s where the wall paintings I love so much were unearthed. I’m also interested in seeing Oia, a city known for its spectacular views overlooking the caldera, but our first destination is Ancient Thera. It’s located near the village of Kamari, high atop the mountain Messa Vouno.

We drive southeast across the island, negotiating unmarked roads and up and down small hills. Even with the recent rains, the landscape looks bone dry. Scrubby brush and sun-bleached weeds only partially cover the arid, rocky soil. Off in the distance, Messa Vouno rises up from the landscape and guides us to our destination. But as we make our way up the mountain to the Ancient city of Thera, I discover it’s one of the most difficult, winding roads I’ve ever negotiated. Switchbacks snake us up the mountain and have an almost undriveable cobblestone surface. Adding to the difficulty, the road doesn’t have guardrails and is so narrow that it’s barely wide enough to pass. It’s a good thing we rented a tiny car or we could never make it up.