Langada is the prettiest village on Amorgos second only to Hora. A flagstoned pedestrian street winds through the settlement dividing it from east to west. Along it are clustered charming traditional buildings, old-fashioned coffee houses, shops and little tavernas. On the west side of the street, next to Taverna Nikos is the only bakery in the village. Both are owned by the Vassalos family.
Nikos taverna has been running since 1950, when Nikos Vassalos’ grandfather, Vangelis Synodinos, opened it. Nikos inherited it 30 years ago, having grown up at his grandpa’s feet and, as he tells it, he was born in a kneading trough next to the wood-fired oven. With the passing of the decades, the oven was modernized and the cellars next to the taverna were transformed into a spacious room where, apart from breads, other baked goods are made, like barley and whole grain rusks, oil and olive breads, pies and sweets.
Taverna Nikos serves the delicious products from the bakery and fresh fruits and vegetables from his small farm. Every day one can enjoy home-cooked Greek dishes and traditional local delicacies such as courgette fritters, tomato fritters, fava from Amorgos, free-range cockerel, stewed kid, baked aubergines, xerotigana (fried pastry ribbons), and other sweets produced every day by Ioanna accompanied by rakomelo (honey-sweetened raki) and psimeniraki (cooked and flavoured with cinnamon and nutmeg. The taverna has a glorious view over Langada and is open all year round, summer and winter, from morning (for breakfast) until evening.
Nikos has two brothers. One, Vangelis Vassalos, a passionate botanist, also has a shop – directly opposite the taverna and bakery – called Iamas, which sells aromatic plants and Amorgos herbs. The third brother, Giorgos, is a beekeeper and produces excellent honey.
The Vassalos family hotel makes good use of all these enterprises and thus attracts a particularly varied clientele, to whom they offer a series of interesting and creative activities, such as helping out on the farm with the grape and olive harvest, walks along the island’s footpaths to monasteries, chapels, archaeological sites, traditional villaes, and more challenging hikes up to Mt Krikelos, the old mines and the Amorgos forest.
The Vassalos family, taken as a whole, are an ideal model for Alternative Tourism. It’s enterprises like these which could do a great deal towards improving the image of Greece in theory and in practice.