There the variety of music and the literal folk tradition is revealed. In every popular festival you will experience unknown emotions by taking part or watching the ancient local dances, the different kinds of live music, the Sitian "kontilies" (the mastery of the lyre) and "mantinades" the old or improvised folk Cretan couplets, traditions in which Sitians the born revellers are unrivalled. Usually simple or casual meetings of locals or foreigners turn out to become a party.
Along the long and narrow body of the province of Sitia stretching from west to east, a high mountain range lays as a protective shield against the strong hot south winds blowing from the Libyan Sea.
Αnzel Keys' renowned study of seven countries, which was published in 1980, revealed that the health level of Cretans was the highest in the world. Cancers and cardio-circulatory disease were rare, since out of 100.000 people on Crete, there were only 9 deaths attributed to these diseases as opposed to 466 in Finland.
It was further proven that this was largely due to the dietary habits of the Cretan, people, whose basic ingredient is olive oil.
A truly priceless treasure indispensable in the daily nutrition of the Cretans since the dawn of history. It is produced in the beautiful olive groves which cover the hilly and mountainous embossed soil of the Sitia's land, under ideal soil and climatic conditions (extensive periods of sunshine, (mild and sweet winters, cool summers, natural fertile soils, clean atmosphere).
As rich and beautiful the nature in Sitia - Itanos district is so interesting and alive is the rural life there. The grounds of Sitia - Itanos, the plains, the valleys the hills and the feet of the mountains are cultivated while the rest of the land, the mountainsides the holly and olive tree forests the acres covered with prickly brooms, sage, thyme and other aromatic plants offer lodging and food to many free-range flocks of sheep and goats.
The olive is a favorite subject in Minoan art. Olive trees, olive branches and olive blooms are depicted in many wall paintings and relief works, found at the palace of Knossos ( 1600-1400 BC) and displayed in the Heraklion Museum today.
The pristine and calm natural landscape that constantly changes and pleasantly surprises the visitor, the images of rural life, often primeval and picturesque, the beautiful wild flowers of the fall, winter and spring and the sand lilies of the summer, the numerous aromatic plants; the old stone-built farms, the birds, the free range herds, the endless olive groves and vineyards, the meadows and the gardens around the villages, the view of the high mountains, the deep blue and the open horizons of the sea, all comprise a magical scenery, a pleasure for the eyes and the soul and a journey to a dream world.
The close links of Crete with Europe are widely recognized, since Crete is the place where the continent received its name. In Greek mythology, lust-loving Zeus, in the guise of a white, winged bull carried off on his back the beautiful princess of Phoenicia, Europa, daughter of king Agenor, to the island of Crete where he fathered the progenitors of a magnificent civilization known as the Minoans.
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