Athens. La Dolce Vita

Athens today means crisis. But that’s not for everyone

There’s still a lot of money in Athens, despite the dramatic economic crisis and the political issues. And there is also a lot of people able to spend it on exclusive beaches, private parties and VIP clubs. It’s the well-established rich middle-class who lives in exclusive residential districts like Glyfada, Ekali and Vouliagmeni. Men and women which keep fit at the Holmes Place Health Club for example, and go shopping in the new City Link area while spending their weekends at the unique Astir Hotel, the pearl of the riviera, so beautiful that – as the hotel magazine says – “if the Gods descended from Olympus, they would stay here”.

The first person to use the term riviera to name Athens’ South coast was entrepreneur Chrysanthos Panas – it was a suggestion from a friend, the Italian stylist Valentino. “Today’s crisis – says Chrysanthos – will turn into an opportunity, that’s a fact. It will mark the start of a new era”. Now Greece economy is seriously gasping, anyway, and a lot of rich Greeks move their money abroad or take their businesses to Cyprus or in Bulgaria. But in Athens you can still find some serene, Olympic Dolce Vita, a scene detached from all crisis and politics, a surreal chorus acting every night a kind of Dionysiac cult, while the entire country seems to be on the brink of disaster.