City Break


Text and photos by Cesare Zucca Weekend in the Hellenic capital? Athens is an excellent destination for a ‘city break’ where history, art, culture, food and entertainment will keep you busy from morning until dawn. I go there often, I leave on Friday and return on Sunday or even Monday. The best ways to discover Athens? Although a little touristy, the red bus will take you around the city, stop wherever you want, visit and take the one after, all commented in more than 10 languages. Definitely ‘tourist not tourist’, the voluntary organization This is Athens, gives, yes … gives you the opportunity to visit the city for free, escorted by a local guide. They are all Athenian volunteers who love their city and want you to fall in love with it too…. Here are 9 moves to discover the city plus… a really tasty secret. Have a good trip! 1) We get off to a great start with the most classic and most spectacular destination: the Acropolis. Scattered on a hill, the Parthenon, the temple of Athena Nike, the monuments Propylaea, Erechtheus and the Theater of Dionysus await you. Many steps, but without major problems. No strollers. Obviously very crowded. Do like me, visit it in the middle of the afternoon, you will find fewer tourists and less queues at the box office. Do not miss the nearby Acropolis Museum, with its essential modern and minimalist architecture, almost a fortress that wants to protect priceless beauties and treasures. Open until 8pm, Friday at 10pm. Closed on Mondays. 2) The Stavros Niarchos Center, designed by our very famous architect Renzo Piano. It houses the National Library with more than 750,000 books, and the Greek National Opera Theater, where ballet and opera lovers can applaud the stars of dance and the masterpieces of Verdi, Puccini, Mozart and many others. It can be reached by free shuttles from the popular Syntagma Square. 3) Do you want to get a Greek look? Inspire yourself in the Museum of folk art, in the Museum of the History of the Greek Costume (Dimokritou 7) and in the Benaki Museum (Koumpari 1), where the exhibition ‘Doulamas, the magnificent is staged. An exceptional overcoat is dedicated to the wonderful historical costumes and beautifully embroidered traditional clothes. And then… go shopping among the stalls of Monastiraki, a district famous for its vintage boutiques and the weekend flea market. 4) Do you want all of Athens (and the sea) at your feet? Mount Licabeto is your destination. Take a taxi (very cheap) to Aristippou St, Kolonaki. You can walk up or take the curious yellow funicular (5 Euros). Short drive, stunning views and, of course, a selfie. You can walk down and enjoy the walk. 5) Varvakeios, historic, chaotic traditional market, all Aegean fish, meats, local vegetables. the famous pistachios from the island of Aegina and an infinite number of spices. From the makeshift vendors camped in nearby Athinas, Evripidou, Sofokleous and Vissis streets, you will find everything: religious icons, musical instruments, real and fake antiques and lots of souvenirs. There is even a street dedicated exclusively to handles 6) The Anafiotika neighborhood. I happened to be there by chance … I felt like I was on a Greek island. It is a semi-abandoned village hidden on the hill. Small houses full of graffiti, narrow streets populated by lazy big cats. Perfect location for a lunch in one of the many tabernas, including Elaia, Zorbas, Psara and my favorite To Kafeneio, pure Greek cuisine, handmade dolmates, the historic favas puree, onions, lemon and feta, traditional Greek cheese. 7) For those who love the sea. Athens offers a wonderful Riviera. In the exclusive area of ​​Vouliagmeni, the 5-star boutique hotel Margi is a true paradise! Bright rooms, all comforts and a delightful restaurant by the pool, impeccable service! I enjoyed an excellent quinoa and pomegranate salad 8) Wow evening? For him: Vogue cover hat and beard, cigarette trousers, trendy sneaker. For her: sexy sheath dress, heel 12 or so, ready to dive into the Hellenic nightlife. Better not to go there by car or taxi: the streets are often clogged, use the subway (very efficient until 2 am) to get off at Gazi or Keramikos, the neighborhoods most frequented by Athenians and tourists. You will find music, clubs, pubs and clubs and non-stop ouzo. 9) The best pita in town? I have no doubts: from Yoleni’s. The New York Times also agrees. Located in the trendy Kolonaki area, Yoleni’s has a huge amount of fine local products, produces its own wines and offers a restaurant and bar. Their pizza and above all the pita are unbeatable! A little SECRET It is called Diporto, it is located at 9 of Sokratous, at the corner with Theatrou. Look for it; it is a basement which is accessed by going down through the tiny semi-hidden doors