FLOWER FUSION - Private Island Retreat

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THE BEST OFBOTH WORLDSAPRIL 2020 3.90INTERIORSSPECIALAll the updatesyou need to knowLONELY ASA CLOUDWhy we’re weekendingin the Lake DistrictFLOWERFUSIONErdem and de Gournay’smatch made in heavenBRING MESUNSHINEThere’s nothingmore blissful thanItaly in springtime

104EDITOR’SPICKSWEARMasscob’sCopacabana dressshrieks of summerfun aheadEDITOR’SLETTER72Erdem and de Gournay is thehook up of my wildest dreams.The prince of prints, belovedby fashionistas everywhere, and theUK’s most sought-after hand-paintedwallpaper maker collaborating?What’s not to love? And while youmight need some serious dosh to buyeither the collection’s divine tieredAurelio gown ( 3,360) or a heavenly botanical silkwall panel for your boudoir, you can at least fawnover our beautiful fashion pages (p72).As Design Week rolls around once more, ourinteriors editor, Carole Annett, is much in demandat various events around town – as guest, host,moderator or speaker. The C&TH HouseGuest podcast, where Carole sits down fora relaxed chat with everyone from NinaCampbell and Pandora Sykes to Kit Kempand Kelly Hoppen, is regularly in the topten design podcasts on iTunes – do takea listen. In the meantime, you can enjoy ourspecial extended interiors section that takesa look at the latest trends, peek through the keyhole3612514 COUNTRYANDTOWNHOUSE.CO.UK April 2020of some fascinating properties and discovers whatchefs really want in a kitchen (p93).As we continue to try to adjust to a new way of living,Arabella Youens investigates the eco interiors industrySWITCH OFFto find some companies who’ve been advocatingIt’s Earth Hoursustainability for years, plus new set ups that – ratheron 28 Marchlike the fashion industry – allow you to rent piecesinstead of buy. Interesting stuff (p80).Last summer, I saw preservation attempts of adifferent order. I took my family off to a tiny islandoff mainland Greece, home to just the owners, amenagerie of animals and a gorgeous guest villa.They had recently opened up their most preciousplace to visitors in order to help with the runningcosts involved in guarding the island against araft of elements including summer fires. InGreece, the shoreline is considered a publicREADSadie Jones’ Thegood, and Greek citizens have the rightSnakes. Half thriller,to access and use beaches whenever theyhalf coruscatinglike. The problems arise when barbecuesattack on badparentingor campfires get out of control – fire hasravaged so much of the country (we justdon’t hear of it so much). By actually living on theisland themselves full time (Maris used to bea photographer in Los Angeles and Maria abanker in New York), it means they are onhand to deal with disaster immediately (p125).BOOKThere’s probably nowhere more beautifulEarly bird Haythan Italy in springtime (Covid-19 notwithstanding).Festival ticketsTuscan resident and famed silver sculptor and jewellerare on sale now.We will be thereGiovanni Raspini reveals his favourite places (p130),on Sunday 24 MayMariella Tandy picks her most stylish Italian fashionfinds (p34), and we choosefour hotels that offer [email protected] slice of la usevita at every turn (p128).

EATDRINKESCAPEFOOD & TRAVELG R E E C ETHE SONG OF ILIOSA Greek island holiday assumes mythicalstatus for Lucy Cleland and her familyNo one will find you on Ilios – peaceand privacy is yours for the takingApril 2020 COUNTRYANDTOWNHOUSE.CO.UK 125

The petulant Meltemi winds that once buffetedPericles around the Southern Aegean in3000 BC are preventing our 21st-century ribfrom crossing to the private island estate of Ilios at thesouthern end of the Cyclades. Having been continuallyinhabited since prehistoric times, the once-bustlingvillage, with its communal bread oven, single-roomdwellings and views over the glittering sea, lies in ruins;wild irises sprout through cracked stone, roofs buckleunder decaying rafters, the ancient threshing ring isplagued by bristly thistles. After World War II, whentechnology lured rural dwellers away from subsistenceliving, seduced by shiny fridges and washing machines,village life had all but disappeared here. Now there arejust two houses, albeit grander ones, plus a menagerieof dogs, cats, ducks, chickens, donkeys and horses.Ilios is one of ten islands (only two of which areoccupied) covering 40,000 square miles or so that wereonce owned by the Greek royal family. In 1916 they weresold to one of the most prominent shipping families inGreece. And it is only due to the remarkable love storyFROM ABOVE: Maris and Maria own ten islands in the Cyclades, includingIlios, on which Maris’s grandfather built a family retreat; days are spentswimming, exploring, snorkelling, walking, eating and dozing with not a soul to disturb you126 COUNTRYANDTOWNHOUSE.CO.UK April 2020of its current incumbents – thegrandson, Maris, and his wife, Maria– that we are sitting on the verandaover 100 years later drinking coldMythos and picking at pudgy olives,while our coterie of children shriekin Bacchanalian abandon as theymake this beautiful private islandtheir pleasure ground for the week.The serendipitous meetingof the then young lovers occurredwhen Pablo Picasso’s son, Claude(who owned a property on the onlyother inhabited island owned bythe family), met Maria, a beautifulex-Merrill Lynch banker of Greekorigin. She had grown up inEthiopia and completed her ownodyssey by ‘hanging up the Chanelsuits’ and coming ‘home’ to Greece,in search of something more soulnourishing. Claude asked Mariato help him sell his house andin the course of this, he introducedher to Maris, who was then living in Los Angeles as aphotographer. He’d been thinking of cutting himselfloose from the burden of owning these exquisite islandshe didn’t know what to do with, so he met with Maria inAthens in order to discuss a plan to sell.The rest, as they say, is history. The couple fell in love andhave made it their life’s mission to protect and preserve thisincredible and rare environment – which when Maria firstsaw it was ‘stunning’, she says, ‘but nobody loved it and it wasvery lonely, it had no animals and was not in good shape.’

FOOD & TRAVELNow though, the tworemaining houses have beenspruced up. Maris and Maria’sis a prefab constructed froma Sears catalogue by Maris’grandfather, for the familyto stay in for holidays; theother, where we are, was builtin the 1930s but has beenrenovated to provide a simplebut comfortable living spacewith exquisite detailing. Thereis also a range of whitewashedoutbuildings that dates backto the Ottoman Empire –built from stone, earth andcypresses cut from the island,with heavenly pale bluewoodwork and covered withscrambling bougainvillea,for any additional guests.‘We spent a year with candlesbecause there was no electricity,’says Maria, as the sun begins to dip and the smellsof barbecued meat, cooked by our chef (a must),start to waft through the heavy air, and our lovelyEthiopian helper brings out platters laden with freshtomato and feta salads and warm bread. ‘It was absolutely beautiful.We’d go to sleep at 8.30pm and be up at 6am. Maris started fishing andwe created a vegetable garden and brought over rescue horses anddonkeys on a ferryboat.’ As I drift into this vision of pure bucolicdelight, Maria asserts seriously: ‘We need to protect it.’Fire is a huge risk in Greece. As we’ve so recently witnessedin Australia, fire here too holds a deep and ominous threat over Mariaand Maris’ cherished environment. Each summer, the country seesdeadly infernos destroy swathes of land (last year 112 peoplewere killed on the coast in Rafina, just across the water fromIlios), so preventing hoards of summer visitors from lightingcampfires under the resinous, flammable pine trees intemperatures of over 40 C is their continual frontline battle.But protect it they must: it is their home and heritage.Part of the strategy to help with running costs has beenopening up Ilios to guests – not ones who seek highthread counts and 5G broadband, though it’s wonderfullycomfortable enough, but those who want to walk downpine needle-strewn paths, picnic on deserted beachesin half-moon coves, stare at stars etched like dot-to-dotsacross the inkiest of dark skies and swim in a sea as clearas the martini they’ll be drinking on the pontoon as theblood-orange sun sets. Let’s help Maris and Maria preservethis precious place in the Aegean for another 3,000 years.The children form aferal pack for the weekOUR COTERIE OF CHILDREN SHRIEK INBACCHANALIAN ABANDON AS THEY MAKETHIS BEAUTIFUL PRIVATE ISLAND THEIRPLEASURE GROUND FOR THE WEEKBOOK IT: Ilios Private Island from 18,200 ( 15,113) per week(minimum seven nights’ stay) accommodating up to 14 guests. Priceincludes daily maid service, utilities, wifi and taxes. Transport to theisland is separate, as are food and drinks. We advise booking a chefat 200 ( 166) a day. 020 8144 9120. passepartout-homes.com nApril 2020 COUNTRYANDTOWNHOUSE.CO.UK 127

like. The problems arise when barbecues or campfi res get out of control – fi re has ravaged so much of the country (we just don’t hear of it so much). By actually living on the island themselves full time (Maris used to be a photographer in Los Ange