Sfakiotes residency is a 2-storey country house in the Sfakiotes mountains at Lefkas island (also known as Lefkáda), Ionian islands, Greece. The residency house is situated 45o meters above sea level in the tiny village of Asprogerakata with circa 120 inhabitants. The island is attached to the mainland by a land bridge and is reached with a car and or a bus throughout the year. The residency building, a traditional stone house in the Greek mountains, dates back to the beginning of the 20th century and was previously inhabited by a local man with a wine cellar and goats in the 1970s, after which it was abandoned for 40 years. The house and a small garden went through a complete renovation in 2010 as the programme started to run fully in January, 2011.
Sfakiotes Residency Programme is aimed at artists, art researchers, curators & producers internationally, it is artist-run and initiated, and administered from Finland. It is possible to stay in the house individually or with a family. Guests are allowed and encouraged. Since the premises have cats, bringing your own pets, however, is not advised.
Mission & Rules
Sfakiotes residency is non-profit housing settlement in North-Western Greece with a mission to provide artists from the fields of visual arts, film, art production, curating, research and music to live and work in a genuine Mediterranean surrounding for short periods of time (2 weeks to 2 months). The house as well as the residency is artist-run and privately owned. The residency is administered from Helsinki, Finland, where statistically most applications are received from, but also applications are received increasingly from other Nordic countries, from other European countries, and a couple of applications per year from The United States, India, Japan, and Australia since the programme joined the international Res Artis network in May, 2012.
All participants in the programme are expected to take part in minor maintenance work of the premises such as cleaning, feeding the cats and picking up weeds from the property garden during their stay. Major maintenance work is done twice a year by the residency staff. This means that the administrative structure of the residency can be kept light and the costs for the artists relatively low. It also means that the residents are supposed to leave the residency house as clean and tidy as possible for the next guests. The residency runs only as long as the residents respect this rule.
All guests receive an info package with detailed, practical information about the house, its surroundings and travelling to Greece prior to their journey. The info package will be kept at the house and updated regularly. In addition, a Guest Book is read and written by the residents throughout the year to receive and share the latest and up-to-date information with each other. Before the residency, all residents meet with the owner once to receive the map & instructions, and to pay the deposit of the key.
Floor plan & equipment
The residence dimensions are: 90 square meters in two open floors (45m2 each), a balcony (5m2) and a small stone terrace garden facing the valley (c. 50m2). Upstairs is equipped with a modern, open kitchen and downstairs with an alcove and a bathroom. The floors are separated with a stone staircase. There are no separate guest bedrooms. The residence has a fixed internet connection (WiFi), water, heating and electricity, and a small library consisting of books, travel guides and maps.
Note that there are no extra electric equipment apart from basic household machinery, nor a separate studio space for working. Downstairs has stone/ ceramics tiling, upstairs a massive wooden floor and garden a natural stone pavement that all must be covered for painting or sculpting purposes. The walls are stone and plaster. The residency is best suitable for small-scale, computer-based work such as artistic research.
The house is located in the Sfakiotes mountains close to the central village of Lazarata, a 20-minute drive to the mountains from the nearest city of Lefkáda. The island is circa 40 km2, geographically close to Kerkyra (Korfu) in the far north, Skorpios island and Meganisi in the east and mainland (Peloponnese), and to Italy 300km in the west.
Lefkas island is attached to the mainland with a land bridge built by the Venetians during the Italian rule in the 1500th century AD. The island is reached by car or long-distance busses from Athens throughout the year. Former Sfakiotes region – since 2011 a part of the northern municipality of Lefkáda -, has a total of 1000 inhabitants. Local busses drive to the central valley three to five times a day. Lefkáda city has c. 10 000- 15 000 inhabitants. Lefkas island has no airport of its own, and the nearest small airport, Aktio in Preveza, 30 minutes away, only runs for package travels during the high season (June-September), or some direct flights from Berlin. The most frequently used way to reach the island from abroad is via Athens airport. This has saved the island from mass tourism so far, and the island has kept its characteristics as part of the original, genuine Greece. In June and July, Europeans take a vacation on the island, and in August the island is turned into a popular tourist destination by the Italians.
Athens has an excellent long-distance bus system. Direct busses leave from Athens Kiffisou bus station to Lefkáda (5.5 hours) and are highly recommended: busses are relatively new, affordable, comfortable and fully air-conditioned and the journey includes one 20 minute lunch stop. A bus from Athens airport in the west to Kiffisou long-distance bus station in the east of the metropol takes c.50 minutes, and the long-distance bus from Kiffisou to Lefkáda town (5.5h) runs four times a day from 9am to 8.30pm. The bus must then be changed a second time at Lefkáda central bus station to Karyá direction (20 minutes to the residency house), or to a taxi after 5pm. After 5pm busses do not run to the mountains from the island`s capital. By bus from Athens, the journey takes alltogether 7 hours one way.
During high season (June-Setember) there are some direct flights to Preveza airport on the mainland from Berlin. During off-season and from other parts of the world, planes fly to Athens Eleftherios Venizelos airport around the year. Helsinki-Athens-Helsinki costs around 150-300€, but during holidays the fare can be double or tripple. Tickets are adviced to be booked well 2-4 months in advance.
To drive by car or bus through Europe takes about 4-6 days with two night stopovers starting from Helsinki. Boats from Brindisi (Sicily), Italy, run close to the mainland in Igoumenitsa, an hour`s drive away from the island. At Preveza airport and Athens airport there are possibilities to rent a car and drive to the island. The journey from Athens airport to the island takes circa 5.5 -6 hours. Booking the car in advance is always recommended, especially during high season since tourist prizes on the island can be high. To drive through Peloponnesos can be an experience after dark: during the last 150km from Patra to the island the roads are relatively dark, narrow mountain and coastal roads, and road signs hard to find. The first 300 km the roads are in good condition, mainly large motor or high ways from Athens to Patra via Piraeus and Korinthos. During daytime the roads are very busy and driving culture is fast.
The area where the house is situated consists of five mountain villages: Lazaráta, Pinacochori, Spanohori, Asprogerakata and Kavalós. Further south from the house, in the north-western plain, is situated the larger mountain village of Karyá. They are all reached by walk within a distance of 5 km. For more remote areas of the island, it is recommended to rent a car or a scooter as the bus does not reach the steepest areas in the south-west. Bicycles are possible to rent only from Lefkáda town, and can not be taken in the bus.
In the village, you can walk or take the bus to the nearest central village of Lazarata (1.5km) where all the shops, bakeries and a pharmacy are. Lefkáda town is a 20-minute bus drive away from the house with more extensive shopping, dining, outing, bank automat and internet café possibilities and the bus runs 5 times a day. After 5pm guests without a car must take a taxi back to the mountains from Lefkáda. From Vassiliki town in the south, it is possible to take the boat to the south-western area of the island, the famous Porto Katsiki and Egremni beaches (during high season), or to Ithaka, the mythical island of Homer`s Ulysses. Island-hopping and sightseeing tours are arranged from the eastern town of Nydri during high season. Vassiliki and Kathisma also has extensive water sport facilities in the summer. Boats are rented from Lefkáda, Nydri and Vassiliki.
The busses in general can run with some irregularity. In summertime, the temperature can rise up to +37ºC in shadow and some of the towns don`t have a bus stop or a shelter. The island is also very steep. A car for a family is recommended. In the former Sfakiotes municipality, the nearby villages are within an hour`s reach in the altitude of 450m. The nearest beach of Pefkoulia is a 4km and 50 minute steep downhill walk away from the village, and a 2-hour steep uphill walk back.
Asprogerakata in Winter
In winter the temperature in the Ionian islands is between +15 and 0º C and it is often rainy. At nights the temperature can drop close to zero. It is much more quiet on the island`s coastal cities that live from tourism during the high season. During off-season, the coastal towns can be very windy and mountains humid and rains intensive- warm clothing is recommended. The village of Asprogerakata has literally no tourism in winter. Some shops are closed during winter in smaller villages and Lefkáda town, but supermarkets and bakeries are always open and busses run normally with restricted timetables. The main town of Lefkada is lively around the year and has internet cafés, shops and some of the restaurants open throughout the year except national holidays, such as Easter and Christmas Day. During 1-3.30pm daily, a siesta closes all the shops and restaurants in town.
How to apply
The application time is September 1st-October 15th for the following year. The applicants can apply for a period of 2 weeks to 2 months for the following year (closed: Midsummer, July, Christmas and New Year, see below).
To apply for spring 2011 go to APPLICATION, fill the form and and attach cv and a wish when you would like to come. The shortest time is 2 weeks and longest 1-2 months. A maintenance cost covers internet, hot water, electricity and heating. The rent rates are subject to change & are updated every 6 months. Art researchers, curators and producers are also welcome to apply. Application deadline for 2014 is 30.9.2013 23:59 GMT.
Practical Information for Residents
The key to the residency has to be retrieved from and returned to Helsinki, Finland. In special cases, such as the person not being able to travel to Finland, a key sent in a written letter by post can be accepted. A skype meeting with the owner is required. A deposit of 100 € as well as the full rent, must be paid latest one week before the residency. The deposit will be returned after a proper cleaning by the resident(s) as the key has been returned in Finland.
Renting a car part or full time is strongly advised for families and people physically challenged. The island is a popular holiday destination during high season (June-September) but during off-season (Octrober-May) can have exceptionally strong winds and rain during, especially winter time – a feature which makes it a lush paradise in the summer. During off-season, the temperature can be around 20 degrees celcius during the day in mid-December but drop suddenly close to zero and humid especially after the rains. The steep nature of the island means that a distance of 2 km on the map can equal up to 2 hours of walking uphill in heat or sudden rainfall in the mountains. A local taxi service runs in the mountains or more remote areas of the island by phone call. Lefkáda town also has taxi stations.
The rent does NOT cover cleaning. Please note that all residents are expected to leave the residency clean & tidy to the next one before leaving, pick up the garden weeds, wash all used sheets and towels + leave the laundry drying, and are expected to wet the plants and feed cats on the terrace during their stay.
Guests sign a renting contract and pay the rent + key deposit in advance. A travel and health insurance taken by the guest is strongly recommended. The renting contract does NOT cover water damages or other damages caused by the guest, or expenses of a lost key. Sfakiotes residency does not cover damages caused to the guest or the guest`s belongings during the stay or due to an earthquake.
The residency is rented furnished including:
– Air-conditioning & heating (air pumps in both floors), and one extra removable heater for winter.
– 1 double bed and 2 extra beds (maximum 4 people) + 1 sofa / guest bed (120cm).
– 3 tables & 8 chairs including furnished balcony.
– Small & medium size towels for 4-5 people.
– Sheets, blankets & bed linen for 4-5 people.
– 2 sleeping bags.
– Kitchen equipment: a ceramic stove, an oven, dry kitchen supplies, various basic cooking equipment such as pots, pans, spoons, knives, forks, plates, cups, glasses, tea and coffee cups, wine opener, a toaster, a blender, an electric water heater (tea), Moka Master espresso coffee machines (sizes 2 & 6), a dishwash stand and some extra dishwash equipment.
– A washing machine.
– A radio with 1 sound input slot. Bring your own input/output cable.
– Emergency phone numbers list & a small pharmaceutical set in case of emergency.
– Basic cleaning equipment & detergents.
– 1 removable baby travel bed up to 15 kgs.
– 2 plastic baths for children, diameter: 80 cm.
– WIFI internet connection and 1 usb cable.
– Maps and books of the area and the island.
– Insect control & sweeps under the doors.
– Toilet & shower. Hot water boiler.
– Bus timetables / summer & winter season.
Always check the latest online or go to the nearest bus station.http://livingingreece.gr/2008/06/13/ktel-buses-of-greece/ http://www.lefkas.net/buses.htm
– Cats belonging to the residency premises that need to be fed regularly.
– A small library of books, maps & DVDs updated by our guests.
– ONE set of keys per guest. Please take care of the keys. The residency does NOT cover costs of a lost key and the opening of the doors by a local locksmith. We charge 120€ for opening of the doors by a locksmith.
The residency is CLOSED during maintenance (2-3 weeks yearly in June or July).
Rates are subject to change every six months. The new rates will be announced on this site in the beginning of the application period.