Greece, a ‘magnet’ for foreign celebrities and personalities

Oia - Oia, Kyklades

With or without a fiscal debt or deficit, with or without provoking the criticism of the German or British partners on the good life of ‘plastic money’ attributed to its residents, Greece has not stopped being a powerful attraction for foreign visitors — chiefly among the strong critics of the Greek…life of luxury — but also economic and political figures, and the people of show biz, from all parts of the planet, who ardently wish to acquire their own, permanent accommodations in one of the country’s heavenly spots.

From Rothschild to Abramovic and Berlusconi to Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and Jack Nicholson…

For the sake of…historical face, Greece is not only the country of the frappe coffee enjoyed by the Greeks in the summer. It is a paradise of plentiful sunshine and endless blue, a part of which the famous around the world wish to secure for themselves, by acquiring land and…homes in the Aegean and Ionian Island diamonds of this land at the southernmost tip of Europe.

In northern Corfu, the “Monaco of Greece’, as is called the expanse from Agios Stephanos to Kassiopi and the Nisaki, the house of banker Nathaniel Rothschild, son of Lord Jacob Rothschild and grandson, by marriage, of the great Greek painter Hatzikyriakos-Ghikas opens, with the advent of summer, to receive its ‘master’ and his friends. The late Lady Diana in the past, today Prince Charles with his new wife, Camilla, and in the future…who knows. In the environs of the Rothschild mansion, the villas of Agnelli and Abramovic are kept up throughout the summer so as to be ready in the summer. In the area between Aghios Stephanos and Avlaki beach is the property of British former junior health minister Tom Sackville. And according to local real estate agents, Bruce Willis is seeking his own home in the wider area.

“It is indeed an enchanting part of the island, which is an attraction for famous people from abroad,” the chairman of the Corfu tourist agents Dimitris Haritos tells ANA-MPA, adding: “The Rothschild mansion serves as a magnet for celebrities, with villas springing up one after the other, and this ‘arch’ in the north of the island is justifiably called the ‘Monaco of Greece’.”

In Oia on the island of Santorini, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt a few years ago acquired their own ‘hearth’, worth 5.5 million euros, with a breathtaking view of the ‘Caldera’. Local tongues have also been wagging about interest in acquiring a house in the same area by Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, but Hollywood’s famed ‘cuckoo’ Jack Nicholson is also said to be looking for a ‘nest’ near the Caldera. According to others, the last two have also been knocking on doors on Symi island.

“The start was made by Greek singers such as Michalis Hatzigiannis, one of the first to acquire a house on Oia, and then the foreign celebrities followed,” Yiannis Fousteris, Santorini’s deputy mayor for culture, told ANA-MPA, adding: “Our island has always been an attraction, due to its exceptional natural beauty, but the presence here, with their own houses, of celebrities from abroad adds to its fame.”

Among the long-standing lovers of Greece’s natural beauty, Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, who is of Greek lineage, explored every inch of several islands in the Aegean before deciding on a seaside Cycladic mansion on the island of Antiparos, outside of Hora.

Sifnos was selected by Emir Kusturica as his springboard to the surrounding Cycladic Islands, and the sworn admirer of Greece, the popular ‘Mister Bean’ Rowan Atkinson is now a much loved ‘capital’ for Andros.

Patmos, the island of St. John, has also attracted the interest of many celebrities seeking quiet vacations. ‘Pretty Woman’ Julia Roberts appears to have had a tough time making a choice. Initially she was said to have been interested in Crete, and then in Oia, but finally decided on Patmos, with her movie partner Richard Gere following suit, for his own reasons, given that, due to his devotion to Buddhism, what other spot in Greece except Patmos could offer him the ideal atmosphere for meditation.

Elafonissos, too, has its own ‘fans’. Formula 1 ace Michael Schumacher has displayed interest in acquiring his own summer home there.

Sean Connery, in turn, with the wisdom of his years, opted for a combination of the mainland landscape with an island aura, and acquired a house in Porto Heli. Next to Poros, just a cigarette’s distance by boat to Spetses and a little more to Hydra. Interest in acquiring land in Porto Heli was also manifested in the past by Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin.

Last but not least, pop queen Madonna most recently (initially she had opted for Antiparos) stated that she was enchanted by the Ionian atmosphere of Cephallonia, where she is said to be searching for a house, while the great fashion designer Armani, according to recent newspaper reports, is interested in the Onassis family’s private paradise, the island of Scorpios, off Lefkada.

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