Sifnos – my great love and passion in the Aegean
I am a painter and an author, living for almost 40 years now in New York and Connecticut. I owned a house on the island of Sifnos for well over 30 years.
When I write about Sifnos now I am not totally objective, having written a book together with my husband Tim Lovejoy about my experiences there from 1972-2007. The book is called “The Greek House , The Story of a Painters Love Affair with the Island of Sifnos” and was published in 2013 by Farrar Straus and Giroux in New York and in 2016 in Greek translation by Tsigaridas books, Athens.
Sifnos was my muse, a fountain of creativity inspiring years of painting and, once I sold the house, the writing of the book.
To this day, I long to return to Sifnos, to experience the two mountains meeting the harbor, Profitis Elias and Agios Symeon, like two arms embracing you, holding you tight and making you feel secure and protected. For well over 30 years, that was how I always felt about Sifnos whenever I arrived there in the little harbor of Kamares.
I am moved by that harbor, by that island full of creativity, by its amazing landscapes, the stunning clarity of its architecture and dazzling colors. And the smiles and hospitality of the Sifniots are unmatched. Rarely in my life have I known such warmth and hospitably, such friendliness and simple charm. It is the Sifniots that make you love the island.
Kamares, the harbor where Christian first arrived
Christian Brechneff painting at his Sifnos house
Christian’s painting of Sifnos
Kamares view from Agios Symeon
Christian’s painting of Sifnos
His book presentation at Verina Astra
Sifnos view from Agios Andreas
The island is famous both for its pottery and its food. Lunch at Nikos`s taverna in Heronissos is one of the great culinary island experiences: Fresh barbounia, lobster just brought in from a basket in the sea, simple Greek salads with the local misithra cream cheese prepared with their own rich tasty olive oil, chick pea balls and other island specialties make every meal there unforgettable. It is a must for me whenever I visit Sifnos now. But it is not just Nikos’s taverna. The whole island is full of great places to eat and drink retsina, sing and dance to the music of islanders that come to entertain you in the local tavernas.
There are many wonderful churches and monasteries on the island but one of my favorites is Poulati, which overlooks a rocky coast with great coves for swimming. To my great delight, there is now probably one of the best boutique hotels in Greece – Verina Astra – just above the monastery. It is where I stay when I go to Sifnos now. This small hotel has one of the finest infinity pools in the world; it is a veritable oasis of tranquility and meditative peace unspoilt by the hustle and bustle of modern life. Once there one does not want to ever leave. It is this place now that has me yearning to return to Greece – again and again.
Sifnos was my muse
I have travelled extensively all around the world and there are many beautiful places but it is the people of Sifnos that are very special and endearing. I love them and my book is dedicated to them – then and now
Do I want to go to other islands?
Of course, Greece is filled with many extraordinary, beautiful places but I fell hard for Sifnos. I believe there are places that have real power, places where the connection between nature and man is at its strongest, places that penetrate so deeply that they become part of you. Places where you can put your ear to the ground and hear your own heart beating.
Sifnos had that magic for me from the first moment.