My Lonely Planet guidebook had it right in saying, “For better or worse, the secret is out about Nafplio, one of Greece’s prettiest and most romantic towns.” Though increasing in popularity at an alarming rate, it’s easy to see why; Nafplio is the kind of town one could easily get sucked into, to meander through eternity on its narrow winding streets, gelato in hand.
Pretty much everything about this town is charming. The main tourist drags get a little obnoxious, but they’re definitely avoidable, and it’s not hard to find an authentic experience elsewhere in town.
There’s also a distinctly funky, artsy vibe to much of Nafplio. Boutiques selling fun jewelry and cute dresses line the streets, and the place I was staying gave me a purple room with green decor.
It also featured a mirror with three panels to it, which I naturally used for the sole purpose of making three times as many funny faces at myself.
Indeed, Nafplio does have an Italian tinge to it. Gelato joints are everywhere you look, and one in particular is quite famous. It’s called “Antica Gelateria di Roma,” and is just that. It’s real, Italian-style gelato, and it’s the best I’ve had outside Italy. I got half pistachio and half coconut, and didn’t object to the dollop of real whipped cream served on top. It was so good I went back again my second night, and got a traditional cream flavor instead, which was equally delightful. But it’s not just the gelato that gives off this vibe—Italian restaurants are all over the place, and even those that don’t market themselves as “Italian” have more pasta dishes than most regular Greek restaurants.
And if gelato’s not your cup of tea (who are you?!), then you can get… CUPCAKES! I kid you not. After nine months of ghastly withdrawals, I finally got my cupcake fix. On 25 Martiou street, near the Palamidi fortress,there’s a little cafe called Liz’s Cupcakes. I did a double take when I found out it existed, as cupcakes haven’t quite hit the Greek dessert scene yet, to say the least. Peeking in the window, I saw a cute and thoroughly pink cafe with cupcakes in an old-fashioned glass counter display. Score! I purchased two kinds: Bailey’s flavored, and classic chocolate with vanilla frosting. And it’s not just the cupcakes that are lovely; the owners are too! Next time I’m in Nafplio, I’m going back for the BIG box.
I also stumbled upon the street market, and was delighted to see some new produce hitting the stands. Greek food is all about seasonal produce. If it’s not in season, you won’t see it on the plate in most Greek households (which I love!). Two newcomers I noticed were zucchini blossoms and artichokes.
To sum up Nafplio in a word, I’d pick… delightful. It’s simple, pretty, and traveler-friendly… and did I mention it has cupcakes?! Nafplio is a must on any trip to the Peloponnese.
(Wrap Me in Phyllo Dough is not liable for any eternities actually spent wandering Nafplio’s narrow winding streets, gelato in hand.)