Along with their bottle of white Assyrtiko wine, a jar of split-pea dip (fava) and photographs of blue skies and sparkling white houses, the thousands who visit the Aegean island of Santorini every year can now leave with another souvenir of their holidays: Santopoly, an ingenious board game created by a young Greek couple.
Having spent years on the island working, Thomas Karakletsos and Dimitra Lola feel they know it better than the locals.
“We were at a cafe/bar/gallery in Oia one afternoon, towards the end of the summer in 2015, and noticed that there weren’t any board games, which we’re both fans of,” remembers Dimitra, who works as a tour guide. This sparked the idea for a board game inspired by Monopoly but dedicated to the Greek island. The couple spent hours developing the game, with Dimitra taking care of content and Thomas creating the art. They day eventually came when the saw Santopoly in an island shop window.
“Then we got the most unexpected Christmas present this year: a video of two Britons playing the game and dancing syrtaki,” says Dimitira.
Santopoly’s board is designed with snaking cobbled streets so that the squares represent the island’s 22 villages. A roll of the dice puts the player at a location where he or she can buy a property or explore the possibility of building one.
“We tried to adapt the game to the actual conditions of the real estate market,” says Thomas, a travel agent. “This is why the most expensive villages in Santopoly are Oia and Finikia.”
The course starts at the airport or the port. The old harbor has taken the place of the existing police station and the volcanic islet of Nea Kameni inside the caldera is jail.
“When someone loses a round, we send them to gourmet restaurants and cocktail bars,” says Dimitra. “Each of the cards have a photograph of different locations as well as information on the island’s history, architecture, sites, agricultural products and so on.”
“I don’t think the game is only for people who have already visited the island it, but also for foreigners planning to come for the first time,” adds Dimitra.
The hotels are designed to look like the traditional “yposkafa” (dug into the rock), while the other pieces are done in different geometric shapes – all hand crafted by Thomas from clay molds.
The game, which is available at selected stores on the island and online (www.santopoly.com), is in English.