Grandma Smaro first saw her house in Firostefani as a bride
Here she heard the cries of her first three children, Dimitris, Andreas and her only daughter, Katerina, and here she watched them grow. It remained her home until its devastation in 1956 by Santorini's last great earthquake.
Grandma Smaro took the remains of her dowry, a few black and white photographs, and left the ruins of her home with her husband and children.
"I grow nostalgic for this time, For my children .." Grandma Smaro
During the earthquake of 1956 Smaro's house collapsed into ruins. Only a few things had survived. She gathered them up, and with her husband, children and memories of all the years she had lived there, she left.
1946 - Grandma Smaro first saw her house in Firostefani as a bride. There she heard the first cries of her children, and it remained a part of her life until its devastation in 1956 by Santorini's last great earthquake.
1946 - At the feast of the Holy Virgin of Malteza with her parents, Andreas and Katerina, and friends of the family. Feasting after the saint’s name day sometimes lasted late into the evening. Mid Row 1st left - Grandma Smaro. Bottom Row 2nd left - Artemis her husband. 4th left - Katerina her mother. 5th left - Andreas her father.
1949 - The first family photograph. Smaro, her husband Artemis and the children. Katerina was just a infant.
1950 - The Volcano Erupts
The volcanic eruption of 1950 and the earthquake of 1956 that followed were an economical and social catastrophe for Santorini. 85% of the island structures were destroyed and there was a large decrease in local population.
"My neighbours, the smells, the light - we were poor but happy within our community's embrace ..." Grandma Smaro
Sunset from Fira. Photo : Robert A. McCabe
Map of Santorini showing the location of Grandma Smaro's house (Today Smaro Studios).
1949 - The courtyard of the house that Grandma Smaro entered as a bride with her 3 children, Dimitris, Katerina & Andreas. Georgos was not born yet.
Artemis used to leave at the break of day and go down on foot to 'Gialos' (old port) in time to meet passengers arriving on the 'postali' (passenger ship).
1954 - 1955
Hard Work with Endless Working Hours
In those days the only thing on Artemis's mind was unloading the merchandise from the ships as quickly as possible. Endless hours under the burning sun, in the cold, and in stormy weather! But his love and passion for the sea made him 'forget'.
The only pleasure and brief respite from work was a cup of coffee shared with a friend at the local coffee shop down at the port, gazing out to the Aegean sea.
1955 - The Aegaion in the old port below Fira. The only pleasure and brief respite from work was a cup of coffee shared with a friend at the local coffee shop down at the port, gazing out to sea. Photo : Robert A. McCabe.
1955 - 'Gialos' (Old Port). Unloading the merchandise at the docks.
1955 - Maneuvering at the port of Fira. Photo : Robert A. McCabe.
1954 - The first commemorative photo of the firstborn son, Dimitris holding his 1st school report card. Arm in arm with Andreas & Katerina.
9th July 1956
The Earthquake of 1956 devastated Santorini
The earthquake was 7.9 on the richter scale. Fira, Firostefani and Oia were almost completely destroyed. There many casualties and some deaths. Exo Gonia and Mesa Gonia were abandoned, and the residents of those areas moved to Kamari. As a result of the disaster, and order to provide aid as quickly as possible, the military made emergency airdrops of tents, food & supplies.
Earthquake victim camps were set up in Fira on the lower road. At that time the area was covered in trees and fields and the camps stretched as far as the eye can see.
The difficult years of the earthquake. Years full of deprivation and poverty.
Fira & Firostefani - One year later the island was devastated by the great earthquake of 1956 that also destroyed Grandma Smaro's house. Photo : Robert A. McCabe.
September / 2 / 56 - Memento of the earthquake
1956 - Life in the camp for the earthquake victims. Left to right : Dimitris, Katerina & Andreas.
After 3 years in the camps, the family received government help & built a new house. Smaro lives there until this day.
Georgos was born & Katerina left the island
Leaving the island for the first time, Katerina travels to Athens to board with the nuns, visiting Santorini only for the summers. She spent her formative years growing up in Athens. Katerina finally returns to live in Santorini as a young adult in 1973.
The arrival of Georgos, the fourth and final child, sweetened the pain of being uprooted.
28th October 1960 - For my beloved daughter Katina so that she can 'see' her dad and little brother Georgakis. Sent to Katerina from her father Artemis when she boarding with the nuns.
1957 - The 1st photograph of baby Georgos in the loving arms of Smaro.
1957 Vouliagmeni Beach - Left Young Katerina on the beach in Vouliagmeni with a childhood girlfriend. Center and right with Georgos during the summers in Santorini.
1961 - 1962
Grandfather Artemis's image as a postcard!
The colourful image of Grandfather Artemis was made into a postcard which traveled all over the world. Grandma Smaro sent the postcard to Katerina with the following inscription:
"Thira 14 May 1962"
To Katina Kafieri, Student ... Nea Makri
"To our darling Katinoula, receive the photograph of your papa so you can see him. He sends his blessings as well as many kisses from your brothers and says all is well".
"I kiss you sweetly, Your mother, Smaragda Kafieri"
Dimitris and Andreas wear their sailor caps with pride
1962 - The colourful image of Grandfather Artemis was made into a postcard which traveled all over the world.
Thira 14 May 1962 'To our darling Katinoula, receive the photograph of your papa so you can see him. He sends his blessings as well as many kisses from your brothers and says all is well. I kiss you sweetly, your mother, Smaragda Kafieri'.
7 May 1961 - The 3 boys (left to right) Dimitris, Georgos and Andreas at the name day festival of Saint Fotini.
The boys inherit their father's love of the sea ...
Artemis's great love for his boat and the sea was captured in the hearts of all his children. This love endures until today.
1963 - Down at 'Gialos'. Artemis waiting for the 'postali'. Photo : Robert A. McCabe.
View from Fira down to 'Gialos' (Old port). Photo : Robert A. McCabe
1969 - Giorgos at a younger age, proud to 'captain' his father's boat.
Ferrying passengers to and from the 'postali' was a way for Artemis to supplement the family's income.
Dimitris and his father working at the port.
'Gialos' - A normal working day. Artemis and a friend.
The firstborn son, Dimitris, went to sea in 1968 and became a captain. Dimitris marries Maria in 1980. They have two children, Evaggelia b. 1980 and Artemis b.1985 (named after Grandfather Artemis).
"... from my kitchen window I can see the volcano, the island of Thirasia, Skaros and the sea.
I think I can see my Artemis heading towards me with his boat ...
I can hear my four children playing in the courtyard - arguing, laughing, growing older".
1976 Georgakis in his father's boat with the first catch of the day.
1953 Grandma Smaro on the beach in Perissa. 'I grow nostalgic for this time, for my children ..'
The Return of Katerina to the Island
Summer of 1973 : the first visit of George to the Acropolis and the final return of Katerina to the island. Grandma Smaro remains close and in a loving relationship with her children until today.
Santorini starts to recover
after the natural disasters of 1950 and 1956 at the end of the 1970's with the introduction of tourism.
View of Fira from Firostefani. Santorini finally recovers from the earthquake with the introduction of tourism in the late 1970's.
1973 - Katerina as a young woman. The year that she returns to live in Santorini.
1973 Grandma Smaro and Georgos climb up to the Acropolis and visit the Parthenon.
2000 until the present day
Smaro Studios is born
Years passed by and Grandma Smaro's grandchildren, their interest rekindled by the stories and memories of her children, began to rebuild, stone by stone ...
In 2000 the house was restored - six apartments were created, one for each member of the family, each decorated in the style of her era. Grandma Smaro's cousin, Master Lefteris of Krikela created the furniture, and the courtyard and the balconies have been covered in stone, just as they used to be.
Late in the afternoon Grandma Smaro's family invites you for a coffee or a traditional Vinsanto wine
The morning brings fresh eggs for breakfast, cakes, jams, toast & butter, juices and something hot to drink. The larder is filled with fruit, yoghurts, local syrup sweets, coffee and tea, milk and sugar, and tidbits of all kinds.
Map of Santorini showing the location of Smaro Studios (Grandma Smaro's house before the 1956 earthquake).
Grandma Smaro's house as it is today - Smaro Studios
Beautiful sunsets and view of the volcano from Smaro Studios.
The apartment named after Grandma Smaro. All the apartments have been decorated in the style of that era.
All the balconies are covered in stone and have a fantastic view.