Friday, 29 June 2012

Back in the old Venetian town of Rethymnon

Pepi Studios ... in a charming old Venetian building in Tsouderon Street in Rethymnon

Patrick Comerford

I have arrived back in Rethymnon, and I am staying for a week in a small hotel in this charming old-world town on the north coast of Crete, which many regard as one of the best-preserved Renaissance cities in Greece.

I first stayed here almost a quarter of a century ago, and last visited Rethymnon two years ago. For the next week, I am staying in Pepi Studios in Tsouderon Street – a charming old Venetian building in a side street off Arkadiou Street, in the heart of Rethymnon’s Old Town.

The fortezza and the old Venetian harbour are nearby, and there are museums, galleries and old Venetian and Ottoman buildings around every corner, with tavernas, restaurants, cafés and bars on every street and corner. Rethymnon has numerous Byzantine churches and monasteries, enchanting Venetian monuments and palazzos, Ottoman mosques and balconies, and narrow alleyways, quiet squares and side streets that are oozing with charm and curiosity.

Pepi Studios are at No 22. No 12 has a beautiful door frame with Doric columns, and an arch and triangles with curved sides that is and richly ornamented with motifs from nature.

This house is only 300 metres away from both the old harbour and the town’s lengthy sandy beach, which stretches for miles to the east as far as they can see.

In all, Pepi Studios has 14 studios and four maisonettes, arranged around a charming garden and a small outdoor swimming pool. Each studio has a kitchen, free Wi-Fi internet and a flat screen TV with satellite channels.

Akri, one of my favourites restaurants, is a charming taverna in a quiet corner off Kornaru Street (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Perhaps I’ll head around the corner this evening for dinner in Akri, which has been one of my favourites restaurants since the 1980s. It is a charming taverna in a quiet corner off Kornaru Street, offering traditional, home-made Cretan dishes. The courtyard has patches of green everywhere with a refreshing scent of jasmine and with small tables under a wooden trellis.

And perhaps they are offering live music with traditional Cretan songs and dances this evening.