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Shipwreck capital of the world

If Ikaría is too cosmopolitan for your taste, turn the clock back a couple of decades and head out to Foúrni – a rugged, quiet, friendly and utterly Greek mini archipelago of 20 islands and islets just about midway between Samos and Ikaria, once used as a secret lair by pirates for pouncing on passing ships at the crossroads of ancient north south and east west Mediterranean trade routes.

The larger, hook-shaped island, Fourni Korseon embraces a huge sheltered bay that long hid a band of pirates from where they would pounce on passing ships; modern Greeks, beginning with refugees from Turkish misrule, only dared to settle here in 1775.

By the 18th century Foúrni time had been ruthlessly denuded by charcoal burners from Sámos and Ikaría. But the sea here is the nicknamed ‘the lair of fish’, especially the much-loved barboúnia (red mullet) and clawless Mediterranean lobster (astakós), which, although plentiful, isn’t cheap; Foúrni’s fleet sends most of the catch to Athens. Many locals fish by night, using bright lamps that set the sea aglitter.

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North Aegean Islands

Text © Dana Facaros

Image by Tanzania, Creative Commons License