The elegant Marianne Larsson-Karacostas and her polymath husband Paulos Karacostas have lovingly transformed an historic property once fallen into ruins. With patience, attention to detail, and respect for the land and the spirit of the Montofoli estate, they have created a sublime retreat to restore one’s spirit. Set into a hillside above their ancient citrus groves and vineyard, famed for its prize-winning sun-dried sweet wine, the magnificent Venetian manor house with its Ottoman addition connects to the vineyard by a long, wide stone staircase, flanked by two lions, and running down to the vines. Ancient Greek columns lie about the gardens where lavender, rosemary and mint scent the air, and terracotta urns artfully grace stone walls and terraces. Pink geraniums, peach roses, loquat trees, Cyprus and pine trees create arbors for the birds. Church bells and sheep’s bells and bees add to the bucolic atmosphere. To stay at Montofoli is like stepping into an 19th century painting, but the accommodations are comfortable and beautifully appointed. Each cottage has unique charm and privacy as well as a well-equipped kitchen, stocked with coffee and tea. Marianne delivered a sumptuous basket of delicacies for our enjoyment: her glorious marmalade, honey, an enormous hunk of delicious local cheese, bread, wine, eggs, yogurt, apples, clove-studded biscuits, tomatoes. Both Paulos and Marianne devoted so much time to answering our endless questions about Greece and Greek politics as well as to helping us plan our visit, recommending superb restaurants, hikes, drives, beaches, but we ended up spending more time enjoying the sublime peace of the estate. One feels the Greek (and Swedish!) spirit of hospitality in Marianne and Paulos’s attention to their guests’ comfort. We have traveled widely for many, many years, and our experience on Evia and the Montofoli estate in particular was exceptional. The spirit of ξενία, xenía, the ancient Greek “guest-friendship” is alive at Montofoli.
Elisabeth Lowery – May 2017