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Ano Meria Village
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Ano Meria, Folegandros Island

The first buildings of the settlement of Ano Meria are found at a distance of some 6 kilometers far from Chora at the Northwest. Ano Meria is the most populated settlement of Folegandros, counting more than 300 permanent residents. It is not a typical settlement, as there is not a village center as it happens in most of the settlements elsewhere, and the houses are scattered in a broad area. The majority of the residents are occupied in agriculture and stock breeding, an old traditional activity of the place; only few of them have turned to tourist activities.

The settlement is not very old; it goes back only two to three centuries. The first buildings of it were simple one-room houses that served as temporary short-staying residencies for the farmers who came here to work in their field. Gradually, some of the people were settled here permanently. However, most of the families of Ano Meria are not of local origin; they came here from Crete, Cyclades and the island of Euboea. This is evident even from the names, some of which show the place from which they come from. As more and more people settled in the area, the settlement increased in population and at the beginning of the 20 th century it became a separate community.

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Most of the houses of Ano Meria, particularly the older ones, are not simple houses as it happens in Chora or in other islands; they are entire autonomous, self-contained units, housing large families whose members were occupied in agriculture and stockbreeding, but also in manufacturing everything necessary for their living. These units are called here “themonies” and many of them still survive and operate in the same traditional way. Of course, at the village there are also new buildings, residencies of the younger members of the families, but also tourist lodgings, as tourism is gradually entering in the life and activities of the people of Ano Meria, although at a lower grade than it happens in Chora.

A typical “themonia” is the building housing the Folk Museum of Ano Meria. The Museum is found on the way from Chora to Ano Meria, at the entrance of the settlement. If you visit it you will be able to reconstruct the hard everyday life that the residents of the island led in the past, when the lack of electric power, of transportation means and of telephone, and the scarcity of water made every activity difficult and tiring. Around the “themonia”, on the mountainsides, within a wild environment, you will see kilometers of dry stone walls, constructed and repaired every year by the hardworking residents, in order to retain earth and soil and create small fields, where they could cultivate all products necessary for a moderate living. Today, these small fields are still cultivated, although to a less extent, and give the high quality products that both locals and the visitors of the island enjoy.

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Once at Ano Meria, don’t miss to visit the traditional bakery and taste the bread and sweets baked in the old stone made oven, using brushwood instead of wood. Ask for “kouloures”, the small fluffy and gristly wads, which go very well along with local cheese and local small tomatoes; it is the best breakfast you may have!

Ask the locals to show you the last grocery and coffee shop of the island. Some years ago all the stores were like this, but now only the one of Ano Meria still survives, maintaining a long tradition. The lady who owns the shop will offer you coffee, refreshments and a meal, whereas you may buy any provisions necessary.

Don’t forget to visit the small shop where it is made and sold the original “pasteli” of the island, made with tasty local honey. If you are here after August and you are lucky enough, it is possible to find some honey to bring back home, the sweetest memory you may have from the island.

Folegandros is famous for the “matsata”, the fresh hand made pasta made on the same day and accompanying local meat or meatballs in tomato sauce. You may find “matsata” in almost all the taverns of the island, but the best are certainly cooked in Ano Meria. The ladies, who operate the taverns here, cook them in the traditional way they have taught from their mummies and grannies; so what you will eat is not homemade-like, but an authentic homemade dish, the same the locals eat at home.

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At Ano Meria it is found the Nursery school of Folegandros, as well as three classes of the Elementary school. The rest of the classes of the Elementary school and the High school are found in the town of Folegandros.

Along the public road leading from Chora to Ano Meria you may see the old windmills. What you see is all that survived from a considerable number of the windmills that existed in past times. Some of them are preserved in pretty good condition, while several of them are in ruins, and others have been torn down.

In summer, the cultural association of the island and the organizers of the project “Isolario” organize various poetry eves, music concerts, theatrical plays and Karanghiozi (galanty show), at the outdoor spaces of the Folk Museum and of the Elementary school. In most cases the events take place on full moon evenings that makes the spectacle fascinating.

A great religious local feast (“panighyri”) takes place on the 27 th of August celebrating Aghios Panteleimonas, at the homonymous church. If you are around during the Easter period, you will be able to attend the three days process of the icon of Virgin Mary all over the island. The second day the icon is processed in Ano Meria, The icon enters in every house of the settlement, even in the most remote ones.

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If you decide to stay at Ano Meria (a few lodgings are available), you may swim at the nearby beaches of Aghios Georgios and Lygaria, where you will go via a good dirt road. You may also visit all the beaches of the southwestern and the southeastern coast of the island, provided the weather allows swimming there. You will arrive at the beaches on foot, via the network of paths leading to each beach. If so, don’t forget to bring along water (imperative) and possibly a sandwich or a snack, as the beaches don’t offer any kind of facilities. All these beaches are found at a distance of half an hour to one hour walking from the public road of Ano Meria. Of course, you should bear in mind that the way back will take much longer, as the road is uphill and possibly you are already tired from swimming and diving.

Access to Ano Meria is possible by public bus, running regularly, by taxi and of course by rented or private car and motorbikes. Some of the buses going from Chora to Angali, continue to Ano Meria (usually once a day). If you are fan of walking and uphill roads do not tire you, you may also come from Chora to Ano Meria on foot.
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