September feels more like summer than autumn in Crete thanks to the fair weather and the rare rainfall. In the middle of September (13th & 14th) the Festival of St Stavros is celebrated in the villages of Aptera and Maza. Over the two days of the festival locals gather to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Cross; the village squares are prepared for feasting and are transformed into outdoor folk party areas, with plenty of food and drink on hand (especially local wine and tsikoudia) to celebrate the festival of Timio Stavros (literally meaning Holy Cross).
September and October are the perfect months of the year for a holiday in Crete; the beaches are quiet, the temperatures are pleasant and the sea is surprisingly warm. As a quintessentially tourist island, Crete celebrates World Day of Tourism on 27th September. The old harbour of Chania becomes the centre of celebrations and puts visitors at the heart of the festivities. The major archaeological sites and the museums across the island celebrate too, offering free entrance days to the public.
Villa Diktamos – Stilos
Villa Diktamos is located at the foot of the Diktamos Gorge in Stilos. The Vatsakis family originates from Stilos, they own and farm the land in the ‘Farangi’ area here. Diktamos Villa owner, Manoussos, inherited the land on which he built this lovely stone villa. The Diktamos gorge lies just outside Stilos, 4km from Aptera. It goes up to the village of Katohori, about 7km and a few hundred feet above. The walk up the gorge is along a dry, stony river bed, with boulders as you progress higher up, some are enormous – one near the top of the gorge even has a rickety wooden ladder leaning up against it to enable one to climb over.
“An absolutely beautiful villa in a quiet and secluded location and surrounded by wildlife.”
The village centre of Stilos (sometimes spelt Stylos) is located 2km from Villa Dikatamos. Stilos is well known locally for its riverside tavernas shaded by giant plane trees where weddings and christenings are celebrated. Live music can be enjoyed through the night on summer music evenings at the tavernas.
The stone Byzantine church of Agios Ioannis stands on the village road, this is closed and does not hold services, while the large modern domed church holds Greek Orthodox services on Sundays. During the invasion of Crete in the second world war on the 26th and 27th May 1941 Stilos was the site of an important battle between Allied and German forces. The battle delayed the Nazi invaders’ pursuit of the Allies as they retreated south to Sfakia for their subsequent successful evacuation of the island. A number of steel helmets from the period hang on the wall of the old village shop.
Taste of Autumn Week
Tuesday 11th October – 7 nights – £930 per person
Autumn in Crete, where the warm weather is accompanied by a season of olive, grape and chestnut harvesting, the oil and wine presses are fired up and the raki production is in full swing. Village festivals celebrate the local harvests, with feasting, music and dancing. The flora of Crete in Autumn sees numerous beautiful flowers with annuals sprouting from seed and cyclamens, crocuses and many others, often in abundance, bursting into flower. Wild trees and shrubs are also in fruit.
“The excursions during the week with regard to plants and insects were as excellent as could be expected with Stephen and Clive as leaders. Their competence and enthusiasm is astonishing. The wine tasting as well as the Raki tasting were fantastic experiences”
The Swedish guests – Taste of Autumn 2015