As you travel from Vamos to Kefalas you will reach a T junction with a small stone building on the left of the road and a kafenion on your right. This should be sign-posted Xirosterni. Turn left and you’re entering another small old village essentially untouched by tourism. About 70 permanent residents call Xirosterni home.
There aren’t any amenities in Xirosterni other than the small kafenion on the road and this is often only open during the day.
The kafenion caters for the local workers and some of the older village (male) residents.
Having said that it's a lovely place to live - very quiet and peaceful - whilst only being 2-3 minutes from the restaurants and kafenions at Kefalas and all the amenities at Vamos. In addition, the beaches at Kalyves, Almyrida and Giorgioupolis are all less than 10 minutes away.
At the centre of the village, there is of course a church. This is the ‘Church of Christ’ and every year on the 5th / 6th of August there is a great festival in Xirosterni in honour of the Church.
Xirosterni used to have the name ‘Viola’ – an attractive local flower. In Ottoman times, a Turkish soldier instructed a local man to pull water from the well for his horse to drink. Ashamed and because he also didn’t want to be seen as co-operating with the enemy, the villager told the soldier that the well was empty. The Turk angrily shouted ‘why is this village called Viola? You should call it Xirosterni!’
Xirosterni is a combination of two Greek words – literally translating as ‘dry well’.
One couple who are permanent residents of Xirosterni are John Mansell and his lovely wife Lizzie. They have lived here a number of years and are founder members of the Kalamitsi Arts Group (see Kalamitsi for details).
John is a talented multi instrumentalist and songwriter who plays guitar (and more) here on Crete as one half of ‘Big Fish’. Lizzie is the leader of a ‘choir’ called Cats Chorus who sing at various ‘events’ in the area. (I’m never very sure what the Cretans think of the name).
Like all the residents in the old village, John and Lizzie live in a renovation; there are however some newer houses on larger plots around the outskirts of the village boundaries.