Take a drive around Naxos and the first thing that will surprise you is just how big the island is. Part of the Cyclades group of islands, with Mykonos to the north and the volcanic crater of Santorini to the south, Naxos appears on a map to be a typical small island; one which you could comfortably circle in a day’s driving. Don’t be fooled though; with winding mountain roads linking the small towns, many of which you’ll want to stop in and take a look around, it would take several days of exploring to see the best of Naxos.
So what is a reasonable plan for a day out in a rental car? We started from Naxos town and set off to the village of Ano Sagkri. From here it’s a gentle walk across fields to the ruins of the Temple of Dimitra – once an important site of worship on the island and now undergoing very slow restoration. It’s a fabulous setting, especially against the backdrop of the mountains to the east.
From here we made our way to Damalas, where we stopped at a local pottery workshop. The drill is familiar – walk in, watch a pot being made, go to the shop. While the owner Manolis, who represents the fourth generation in a long family line of potters, does show us his work, there’s something about his dusty showroom, random display and warm, disarming smile that made even this old cynic open his wallet and buy a wine jug to carry home.