This post is also available in: Italian

From dawn the tourists wait for a Santorini sunset.

Through early morning the wind may reach Beaufort 7 and whip up white tops in the sea around the volcano in the caldera. Then the power of ‘old man sun’, as he climbs laboriously into the sky, gradually fills the cliffs with warmth and berates the cooling breeze.

Then in the late afternoon, when,waiting for the Santorini sunset,  you sit for a preliminary yellow donkey or cocktail looking over the sea from one of the many vantage points above the caldera, anywhere from above the new port to Oia, you may notice that the waters below you have lost their force and there seems to be just a ripple on an apparently serene sea.

As the sun slowly descends above the Cycladic islands away to the north west, the islands in the distance become more definite and you may recognise below the setting sun, Folegandros, and to its right, Sikinos. But then you would be a local and a little immune to the show about to commence. Yet for the thousands who flock to the edge of the caldera just before sunset, this is a promised visual experience of celestial life and death not to be missed.

While the sea in the caldera settles, brief gusts of wind escape from the hot black rock on the walls of the caldera and disturb the bougainvillea vines draping the restaurants and shops. As these gusts then die away, so do the sun’s rays cool from a brilliant yellow to a softer golden shade, yet still dancing on the sea.

Folegandros seems to float on a golden sheet separated from its mortal world in the sea. The sun descends and begins its attack on this island but we can see that it is falling into the clutches of Folegandros that it had earlier lifted into the sky. Folegandros, in revenge, gradually drains the sun of its energy and the now the Valencia orange orb shuns more of its brilliance as shades of crimson slice across its surface.

Now it has settled into its home, the sea, the island little by little swallows the sun. The sun’s power has now been absorbed and its decaying image deepens into a crimson rose. The breeze has died with the loss of its friend and the sea is seeking a calm evening. The swallows are sweeping the sky. The aura of the sun is all that is left of its death this day. The sky is filled with soft colours, from a smoky violet above the funeral pyre at the surface of the island, then rose hues, and as we scan into the sky, pale yellows, limes, light aquamarines and deeper azure blues – all that remains of the Santorini sunset

And for those who sit atop the caldera a chance is given to witness the cycle of life as they turn to the east and find the full red moon rising in the sky to take its role in this apparently never-ending cycle of celestial energy.

Meanwhile we continue our reflexion over a glass of ‘ancient wine’ in the Santorini Art Center of Apostol watching his grand statue od Icarus raising from the ashes and smoke.

Gavin Tulloch

Scienziato e poeta. Ama la chimica, il vino, le donne e l’opera, ma non sappiamo in quale ordine