The Mama Mia sequel has been storming the movie theatres the past few months, drawing romantics to fall hopelessly into the arms of a dream Mediterranean love affair, set among the pines, azure waters, and bougainvillea.
Cobble pavements, white walls, blue shutters, and glorious tapas only add to the whimsy. And irrespective of Piers Brosnan's dubious tones the movie has struck a chord across the globe, placing Skiathos and Skopelos firmly on the map. Ironically Skopelos is the ‘Mama Mia Island’ but Skiathos, its more established neighbour, has garnered the lion's share of tourists.
The reality of Greece can be overpopulated, commercial and replete with strutting European posers or "tipsy" Brits. Moreover, Croatia and the lesser-known Greek islands now vie for attention from visitors around the world hungry for that sublime Mediterranean experience, still untouched in parts.
Staying in the South of the Island on the Kalamaki Peninsula we were in pole position to experience the pristine beaches from Kolios, to neighbouring Vromolimnos and Kanapitsa, to Agia Eleni.
In the bid for a genuine Greek experience we avoided hotels and opted for the real thing, Villa Maestrali - a stone clad, mountaintop villa, bedecked with the very blue shutters and cool white walls that complete the dream sequence. The veranda, surrounded by towering firs, offered a 180-degree view of the ocean and the surrounding small islands.
The owner, Elisabeth Powers, was a superb host, meeting us at the airport and driving us to Villa Maestrali to settle us in. As we arrived the fridge was kitted out with local yoghurt, wine and beer, fruit, greek salad, fresh meats and milk.