Built into the wild, herb-strewn landscape on the west coast of the island, Melisses – all slate, antique furniture and lush greenery – is a microcosm of the island itself. Less crowded than Santorini, more verdant than Mykonos, Andros stands apart from the other islands of the Cyclades. Greener because of its natural springs, streams, rivers and waterfalls, the island bursts with colour and, most important for Pomilio when choosing the ‘right spot’ to host her culinary getaways, it boasts the best produce.
“I worked in the hospitality business before deciding to open Melisses with my family,” said Italian Pomilio, plucking bright red globes from the tomato vines in the vegetable patch just beyond my suite. After feeding the goats and chickens that morning, the next job was to harvest whatever vegetables had sprung forth in the past 24 hours, ready for lunch.
Courgettes, aubergines, onions, runner beans, tomatoes that smell like the sun, even watermelons – it seemed like whatever could be planted on the grounds of Melisses, was. When the Meltemi picks up mid-summer and gusts of wind send seawater splashing, the vegetable patch benefits from an extra seasoning of salt. Everything tasted amazing and it’s no wonder.
“When we first came to the island in search of a location for Melisses, we were amazed by the landscape – the scenery – it was love at first sight because the island is still so virgin,” she said, gesturing to the wild peninsula that dropped into the sea just beyond us and on to lavender and mint-dense slopes that the guesthouse is built on.