Compared to its famed neighbor Santorini, Anafi may seem like lesser royalty languishing the shadow of its bigger, gorgeous sister. But it’s also this shadow that has preserved Anafi as a pristine, hidden paradise with its original charm intact. According to mythology, Anafi rose from the sea to offer refuge to Jason and the Argonauts on the way back from Colchis. The atmospheric lighting along the stone-paved paths, or kalderimia, winding through the capital, Hora, combined with the island’s tranquility create a fairytale setting. Kalamos, a massive rock that seems to have dropped to the earth during the Titans’ battle, is the second-largest monolith in the Mediterranean after Gibraltar. It’s topped by the Monastery of the Virgin (Monastiri Panayias Kalamiotissas) which offers a mesmerizing sunrise view. The island’s beaches are secluded, with crystalline waters and soft sand. Whet your appetite for the meals to come by snacking on two flavorful local cheeses—anthotiro (a flat, round slice of white cheese, salted or unsalted, made from full-fat sheep’s or goat’s milk) and vrasto (made from whey and fresh goat’s or sheep’s milk which is submerged in boiling, salted water, and then left in the sun to dry and harden). Crocuses, the flower where saffron comes from, grows wild on Anafi and is endemic to the island, and used in a number of local recipes such as saffron cheese bread made with flour, yeast, milk, mastiha, salt, olive oil, egg, saffron, cheese, sesame, and anise. Other local specialties include the Anafi skaltsouni (small pockets of dough filled with sesame seeds, dried breadcrumbs, orange, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, baked and once cooled dusted with confectioner’s sugar) and tsiladia (pork head and rump in aspic with allspice, cloves, peppercorns, bay, lemon, and saffron). It’s said that fried eggs with tomatoes, a simple dish popular throughout Greece, was first made on Anafi during Latin rule when there were so many partridges on the island that in order to protect their crops, locals were given permission by the feudal overlords to collect their eggs which they then used to make omelets with freshly chopped tomatoes.

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