During vacations, we all want to indulge ourselves a bit, and Santorini has plenty of shops to explore and find a nice present for yourself or your loved ones. Most of them are found in the capital, Fira, but you will find a cozy little shop in pretty much every village of the island as well.
Forgot your hat at home? Finished your book too early? Neglected to buy a full bottle of sunscreen? No need to worry! Santorini might be a small island, but it can still fulfil all your basic needs – and many of the not so basic ones. In Fira you will find small supermarkets, bookshops, and other useful stores, as well as a main street full of intriguing possible purchases, such as designer clothes, jewellery, local art works and cheerful souvenirs, in a range of prices for every wallet.
What is truly unique, though, is the variety of local products you can either enjoy here or shop to take with you back home. Under the warmth of the brilliant Aegean sun, the vegetables and fruit grow fresh and tasty, nurtured by the famously fertile volcanic soil, as well as by the tender care of the farmers of Santorini, resulting in agricultular products of top quality and taste.
Santorini is famous for its top-notch fava (mashed cheek peas), used in many traditional recipes, like simple boiled fava, eaten as an appetizer or a healthy main dish, fava with tomato puree, fava accompanying pork, or as a soup. It is also a popular ingredient among modern chefs, who enjoy mixing the old with the new, as well as villagers' traditional food, like fava, with pricier or rarer ingredients.
This variety of eggplants, particular in Santorini, owes its colour to the volcanic soil of the island. Same goes for its taste, which lacks the occasional bitterness of eggplants and is popular for its sweetness, as well as the always juicy flesh of the vegetable.
Caper, with its characteristic spicy taste, is well-known and loved, and both its flowers and its leaves are common ingredients in sauces and salads.
It was in the 18th century that the locals first started cultivating cherry tomatoes, which owe their unique taste to the arid soil of the island and add a great tone to salads and other appetizers.
Chloro tyri is a fresh goat cheese with a creamy texture and pleasant taste. Its production is rather small, so it's not always easy to find, but the taste is worth the search, especially if you're a cheese lover.
A very healthy and tasty way to fight cholesterol, Kardamides are green herbs found in the fields during the spring, usually boiled and served along with fresh fish.
The several eruptions of the volcano of Santorini over the years have resulted in the creation of a large amount of pumice, a light, porous type of rock, which can be found all over the island and can be used in many instances both industrially and in our daily life.
The excavations at the site of Akrotiri have proved that wine making and trading used to be among the most important activities for the people living in Santorini since the prehistoric times. The several eruptions of the volcano over the centuries have caused consecutive layers of volcanic matter, including ash, lava, and pumice to cover the limestone and slate subsoil, forming what the locals call "aspa", i.e. hard, solid ground. Over the years, grape growers have built terraces using petrified lava stones in order to prevent the soil from being eroded by the strong winds, and to help retain what little rain falls. The long history of wine making in the island has resulted in a deeply embedded and practically learned technical knowledge for the grape cultivators and wine makers, and the climate, with the hot sun and the strong wings, is perfect for the vines, keeping them exceptionally healthy. Thanks to that factor, common vine diseases are avoided without the use of chemical products, resulting essentially at the almost effortless application of the principles of organic cultivation. However, the grape growers do give their outmost care and effort for the other tasks left, such as the suppuration and pruning, which involves the use of a special traditional technique to form a "basket" within which the grapes are protected from the sand carried in the wind. The wines of Santorini are truly exceptional, with some of the best known varieties produced being Assirtiko, Athiri, Nykteri and Vinsanto.