Apeiranthos in Naxos - Tourism arrives

I first went through Apeiranthos in 1985 by bus on the way to Apollon, and first visited the village in 1987. I remember a confusing winding village with a number of old women sitting on steps at the side of the paths making lace, and a very old fashioned shop cum kafeneion. By 1991 the village had changed and was becoming more commercial. No crafts were visibly being carried out. I suspect that the reason for the change is that the village is a stop on the cross-island coach tour. The locals (or the people who may have moved into the village to profiteer) take full advantage of the tourist trade. This effect is less obvious at Chalki; there is less of a village to explore at Chalki, and the coaches stop long enough for a quick look at the church and perhaps the Pyrgos, but no more. Moni is also on the tourist trail, the tour buses stopping at the church of Drosiani, and Moni has become more commercialised but I think less so than Apeiranthos. But of course, all ripples of commercialism in any of the villages are as nothing compared to the tide that has swept across Naxos town.

An incident in 1993 will show what is happening to Apeiranthos. I was strolling around the village when an elderly man hobbled up to me and asked if I would like to look at his house. He seemed a pleasant old boy and I followed him some way up a fairly steep slope, and felt sorry for him as he hobbled ahead of me. I reached his house and found that the entrance room was set out with a loom and various items were displayed for sale. "All made here," the lady of the house said. Feeling guilty at the long distance the old man had walked with me to reach his house, I felt I had to buy something. I bought the cheapest cloth available, and looking at it more closely afterwards I have no doubt that it is a piece of machine made cloth. It is not home-made - unless he has an industrial type loom tucked away under his bed. How many other tourists have fallen into the same trap! Genuine Naxos woven cloths of fine cotton with a typical blue and dark red embroidery or wove pattern are very attractive. I saw some on sale in Mr Mellisanos's old shop on Naxos sea front, but nowhere else. That shop was turned into a smart looking restaurant following Mr Mellisanos's retirement.

Apeiranthos is a large village and undoubtedly attractive, both as to the buildings and its mountainous setting. It is deceptively large, and seems more so as the bus winds round the village. Around the late 1980s/ early 1990s Apeiranthos was designated an EC cultural village, presumably received some EC money and that must have started the quest for money. The locals cannot be blamed for seeking easier ways to make a living than had been available to them in the past. The large number of large tavernas (large that is for a village of its size) must again be because of the visitors. At Kouronochori, there are a number of tavernas with large terrace, but I have never seen a coach tour there. Perhaps at some times of the year?

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