“It is like a small Benaki,” Delphi Mayor Thanasis Panayiotopoulos said referring to the emblematic Athenian museum when describing its lesser-known counterpart in Chrisso, one of the prettiest villages in the region of Fokida in the foothills of Mount Parnassos.
Located on the road linking the historic site of Delphi to Amfissa and Itea below, Chrisso is a gorgeous gem in the landscape, with its old-world atmosphere, abundant greenery and impressive neoclassical houses along with some samples of vernacular architecture.
Yet few of the hundreds of thousands of visitors the area receives each year come to this village of 300 residents, and fewer still know that it has an excellent museum of ethnography and folk art.
Its exceptional collection of stunning traditional costumes, antique utensils, engravings, paintings, jewelry, heirlooms and mementos from the Greek War of Independence is the result of the dedication of Chrisso native Ilias Daradimos, who decided a few years ago to do the toughest thing one can ask of a collector: part with his beloved pieces.
But now all of these wonderful exhibits are on public view, there to be enjoyed by everyone in a charming historic location.
Heading up the hill from the square with its big plane tree, past houses so lovely they take your breath away, one’s eyes are inevitably drawn to the beautifully restored museum.
“This was my old school,” says our guide, Nancy Tsamantani, in reference to the building’s former role.
As she walks us through the museum’s exhibits, I start to understand the mayor’s enthusiasm. This is, indeed, a museum of Benaki caliber. The quality of the exhibits is exquisite and their manner of display exemplary.