The little town of Nafplio was the first capital of Greece after the Ottoman Turks got the boot in 1822. I can’t help but wonder how different Nafplio would be if the capital hadn’t been moved to Athens. It is just so adorable. And, well, Athens is not.
Nestled at the top of the Argolic Gulf on the peninsula called “the Peloponnese,” Nafplio is flanked by forts, castles and beaches. Of course, it is named for a Greek god, specifically, Poseidon’s son. Like so much of Greece and because of its strategic location, it is a place of ancient history. In this part of the world, that means occupation by the Byzantines, the Franks, the Germans, the Ottoman Turks and the Venetians.
Today Nafplio is full of cafes and tavernas and middle-brow boutiques. The cobblestone streets are lined with two story Venetian-style houses and churches, lots of churches. Homemade gelato is everywhere and local farmers sell produce at an outdoor market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. A stone path circumnavigates the tiny peninsula between the harbor and a beach with sweeping views of the sea and the hills on the other side of the gulf — a perfect half hour walk.
Since I have been in town, I have gotten to know Maria, who weaves beautiful scarves and shawls in her shop and saves me when I need a computer battery or can’t find an electrical switch.
The region produces some really good wines from a grape called “Nemea-Agiorgitiko.” They are typically a lot like California wines, fragrant and rich and dark (but for a fraction of the cost).
Nafplio has a small folk museum with some nice displays of 19th century dress and household goods.
My landords, Despina and Leonidas, are Greek so they have made sure I feel like a member of the family. They are artists so my apartment has some wonderful detail. There are handmade paper lamp shades, lots of candles and a beautiful book called “Fashion Designers at the Opera.” The bathroom is the perfect place to be if you are feeling a little moody.
Like Carmel and Sausalito and Oakland, Nafplio has been discovered so I am glad to be here before the tourists show up in June.