72 Hours in Folegandros – What to See, Eat & Do

Greece

It’s late May – the beginning of the tourist season – Folegandros remains low-key and positively empty. Donkeys still trot the craggy paths that meander throughout the island. The summer air is filled with the sweet scent of rosemary and oregano, wafting in from the herb gardens that belong to restaurant owners.

Some equate Folegandros to Santorini during its early days, before an airport was built and the tourists took over. The charm of Folegandros is exactly that – an unassuming island that has not met with the tourist mob. Or at least not yet. It is a refuge for those who simply want to kick back and take in the sights of the Cyclades, minus the noise. 

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THE BEACHES

A trip to the Greek islands is incomplete without a little sunbathing time by the sea, and Folegandros is loaded with remote beaches. A short ride in the island’s vintage bus will take you to Agali Beach, the most accessible of them all. Make a day of it when you’re there to soak up the azure waters. Quick bites and drinks are just a few steps away at the nearby cafés – a great way to power through your afternoon soak. The view from the bar and restaurant at Blue Sand Hotel is exceptionally breathtaking, and the perfect spot to watch sunbathers glowing red under the Mediterranean sun.

Katergo Beach is a pristine oasis with some of the bluest waters crashing against its shoreline. The fastest way to get there is by boat. Its seclusion is its biggest appeal, but that also means the sight of an eatery is not for another three miles or so. Pack your own food and drinks, and you’ll feel at home at a beach retreat.

Livadaki Beach is another of the island’s elusive beaches. Boats will take you there from Agali Beach. Otherwise, an adventurous hike from Ano Meria will take you through a steep terrain before you can lay eyes on this paradise. 

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THE SIGHTS

Spend your days wandering Chora, one of the three villages in Folegandros with the highest concentration of restaurants, cafés and knick-knack shops. Take a stroll through Kastro – a little hamlet in Chora – where you can see the way the Greeks live on this island.

The zigzag path up to the Church of Panagia promises some of the best views of Folegandros and its towering cliffs. As the sun sets, the sky darkens and Chora lights up for the night – the perfect view from the church.

Ano Meria represents the wilder side of Folegandros. Some of the longest hikes start off at this rural village that still retains the old donkey tracks. Hikes range from one to three and a half hours. 

THE FOOD

Local specialties include matsata, a type of handmade pasta cooked with rooster or rabbit in tomato sauce. The dishes at Folegandros is usually topped with souroto cheese, a locally produced white cheese that resembles feta. For more on what to eat here, check out the eating guide

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ROOMS WITH A VIEW

Perched beside the pathway to the Church of Panagia, Anemomilos Apartments is a three-room boutique establishment with the makings of a luxe hotel. Owner Dimitris Patelis first set foot in Folegandros and fell in love with its unmistakable beauty. In three years time, he transformed an empty land into a balmy abode that’s open to islanders in summer. Guests are treated to a homemade breakfast in the mornings and sweeping views of the open sea. Doubles start at €150. 

For the best bang for your buck, Aeri Folegandros Studios has rooms with views of Chora set against the backdrop of the ocean. Doubles start at €90 – each spacious room has a living area and balcony. 

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The 24 Hour Guide to Eating in Johannesburg, South Africa

Africa

Johannesburg is inventing a new kind of cool. Years after its inception as a mining town, Jo’burg has gone through a major shift to become a modern day metropolis. The pulsating CBD streets – Rosebank and Sandton – are at one with a cosmopolitan and stylish crowd. The cuisine remains true to its culture, and mouthwatering game meats are a dime a dozen. But exotic meat is not the only thing on the menu – vibrant Sandton is thronged with international flavours (Thai, Japanese, Korean. You name it, they’ve got it). The arrival of a few hipster joints also adds an effortless cool to the busy city centre. 

Look forward to: Steaks

Proof Café 

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Where: 131 West St, Sandton, 2031, South Africa
What: Breakfast croissants
For: Breakfast

The hipster vibes are strong with Proof Café, with artsy patterned plates, wooden tables, and the smell of freshly brewed coffee. The black trimmed glass counter displays some of the best breakfasts you can get in Sandton – fluffy croissants neatly lined up in wooden trays. The buttery pastries are filled with something sweet or savoury, such as lemon meringue, vanilla crème, or bacon and eggs. Perk up your mornings with a cup of Proof coffee – they’re good at that too. 

Wang Thai

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Where: 163 5th St, Sandown, 2196, South Africa
What: Roast duck
For: Thai food

The menu at Wang Thai is for discerning tourists who know their way around Thai cuisine. The geang khew-wan (green curry) is crazily spicy in true Thai style. The chefs – Thai, of course – are unafraid to dish out the real thing, and the wait staff know a thing or two about reading the Thai names off the menu. Standouts include the roasted duck and phad thai. Oh yes, and don’t forget the hom mali rice. It’s the canvas that brings out the best of the other dishes. 

The Butcher Shop & Grill

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Where: Shop 30, Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton, 2196, South Africa
What: Steaks
For: Beef

You know a steakhouse is genuine when they’re serious about their meats. Just look at the menu at The Butcher Shop & Grill – it includes a stern note that any beef cooked more than medium may result in something less than perfection. Skip the surf and turf and dive straight into the meats. Cuts such as ribeye, T-bone and prime rib are aged for 21 to 40 days. If you’re still unsure which cut to get, just waltz into the deli – the pride and joy of the restaurant. The butcher will know just what might tickle your fancy. 

The Eating Guide to Tuscany, Italy

Italy

More than a decade has passed since Under the Tuscan Sun was released, and Tuscany is still as breathtaking as ever. The plan to explore the region is simple – get a car and drive take the autostradas up to charming hilltop towns and wineries. When you head to the rolling hills, homemade pastas and meats rule the Tuscan palate. 

Look forward to: Ragu, handmade pasta and wine.

Gelateria dei Neri

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Area: Florence
Where:
 Via dei Neri, 9/11, 50122 Firenze, Italy
What: Gelato
For: After meal sweets

The search for the authentic gelato in Florence is no mean feat, but Gelateria dei Neri is a household name amongst Florentines for the right Italian ice-cream. Traditional flavours like nocciola, pistachio and limone are golden. For a bite of something more unique, granita (Italian ice that originates in Sicily) comes in mandarin, pink grapefruit and mint flavours. 

Trattoria Sabatino

Area: Florence
Where: Via Pisana, 2R, 50143 Firenze
What: Anything
For: Cheap Italian fare

When it’s time to get off work, the Italians head to Trattoria Sabatino, a family-run eatery in Santo Spirito which seems to serve a locals-only crowd. You can hardly spot hordes of tourists in Sabatino, but instead find hungry Italians engaged in conversations over simple Tuscan fare. Food is dished out in small portions and prices start from €2. Try the mushroom salad, which are raw porcini mushrooms lightly drizzled with olive oil. 

La Schiacciateria

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Area: Florence
Where:
42/31, Via Di Novoli – 50127 Florence (FI) – Italy
What: Panini
For: Breakfast 

La Schiacciateria is the accidental breakfast find that became a routine stop every morning. It’s hard to choose between a pizza or a panino, but either way you won’t be disappointed. Simple ingredients are what makes its panino top-notch. Just prosciutto, mozzarella, rocket and a drizzle of olive oil sandwiched between focaccia. 

Il Latini

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Area: Florence
Where:
Via dei Palchetti, 6R, 50123 Firenze, Italy
What: Florentine steak
For: Dinner

Almost anyone who is a Florentine steak aficionado knows that Latini is the place to go in Florence if you want one that’s done right. Before you order a Florentine steak, know this – Florentine steaks are cooked rare on the inside and fully seared on the outside. No exceptions. Any beef cooked more than medium rare is not a bistecca alla Fiorentina. Ordering to the minimum weight set by the restaurant is a requirement. Rest assured that this large piece of steak can be shared. 

Caffè Sant’Ambrogio

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Area: Florence
Where:
 Piazza Sant’Ambrogio 7, Florence, Italy
What: Wine and anything on the menu
For: Drinks 

The Italian under-30 crowd can be found in Caffè Sant’Ambrogio in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio. After 8 pm, the piazza gets bustling, and the waiters at Caffè Sant’Ambrogio are busy handing out drinks to its patrons. This casual joint doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet and the menu satisfies a cosmopolitan palate – hamburger steak with melted cheese, and pasta with tuna pesto and olives. 

L’Altro Cantuccio

Area: Montepulciano
Where:
Via delle Cantine, 1, 53045 Montepulciano SI, Italy
What: Steaks
For: Romantic dining 

Matthia and Monica opened L’Altro Cantuccio in 2013, and has since been known to serve some of the best Chianina beef in Tuscany. Varied cooking styles of the Chianina beef makes up most of the menu here. The chef serves it grilled, raw (tatare or carpaccio style) or as a meat sauce for pastas. To go with the beef is an extensive wine list which boasts the best of Montepulciano wines. 

Il Pozzo

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Area: Montalcino
Where:
Piazza Castello, 53024 Montalcino – sant angelo in colle SI, Italy
What: Homemade pici pasta with breadcrumbs
For: Tuscan cuisine

In Sant’Angelo, Il Pozzo serves really handmade pastas (as they emphasised) and a wine list that boasts the best of Montalcino. Its owners, sisters Franca and Paola, are born and raised in this part of Tuscany, and learned everything about Tuscan cooking from their grandmothers. Don’t expect modern Italian cuisine here, but rather, Tuscan dishes from a simpler time. Handmade pici pasta with breadcrumbs is a local specialty, and so are the pappardelle al cinghiale and acquacotta. 

Da Enzo

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Area: Siena
Where:
Via Camollia, 49, 53100 Siena SI, Italy
What: Ragu and truffle salad
For: Tuscan cuisine 

Push past the tourist crowds in the main square to get to the quiet street of Via Camollia, where truffles and ragu are found in Da Enzo. You can’t resist the traditional Tuscan ragu cooked with homemade pappardelle and topped with a generous sprinkling of freshly grated cheese. You’ll wonder if an Italian nonna resides in the restaurant’s kitchen. Since you’re in the region, go all out with the truffle salad, a dish jam-packed with a generous shavings of this iconic Tuscan ingredient.