‘Just like a movie set’, do you remember places which made you say these words? I can say I truly felt this way when I was visiting the mountain villages of Chios. Stone houses and stone walls with narrow cobblestone streets, a village square where cats sleep under trees washed by afternoon sunshine, elderly locals converse each other on a bank, the smell of jasmine flowers, when I stop for a coffee in Vessa on my way to Lithi after a couple of days in the island the feeling I had was gratefulness to witness this.
The fifth biggest island of Greece, Chios stands right across Cesme, a coastal town close to Izmir in Turkey. Ferries take you in about half an hour. The first image of the island you get is the Port of Chios, lined with not so nice buildings. That should not discourage you for the island is full of village mountains and more than ninety unspoilt beaches. The island has been ruled by Genoveses, Byzantines, Ottomans throughout ages which may be observed in different regions.
The port region itself has a mosque and a Turkish bath from the Ottoman era, also a Byzantine Museum. When you drive to the south of the island you pass through a town of aprox. seven kilometres with yellowish brown walls and houses, cypress trees, the town of Kampos from the Genovese era will give you an impression of Italy indeed. The area which is called Mastichoria is the region where the mastic is produced. The mountain villages of Pyrgi, Mesta, Vessa are all located in this region at the southwestern part of the island. There is also a Mastic Museum where you can learn how the mastic is produced. You can also visit an underground cave (Olimpi) close to Agia Dynami Beach.You can spare another full day to the centre north of the island. Starting again from the centre Chios port, this time drive to the West, visit the 11th century Monastery, today a Unesco Work heritage, Neo Moni to see the mosaics inside. Then continue to Avygonia, another mountain village and to Anavatos nearby built right on top of the mountain.