What is the story behind ''Melisses''?

My family and I have traveled around the globe, and we’ve often attended cooking classes together – almost as a hobby – and somehow we’ve found our way to the kitchens of some of our favorite Michelin-starred chefs, ranging from Alain Ducasse, Niko Romito, and Heinz Beck, to Gennarino Esposito, and other such culinary masters.

I studied photography in Africa, England and graphic design in Brussels. Visual arts have always been incredibly important to me, but my desire to dive further into the culinary world simply prevailed at some point.

I made the decision to move to France and work for almost two years alongside Mimi and Oddur Thorisson in the Médoc region, in France.

We hosted workshops, cooking classes, and much more.

After that period of my life in France, I began pursuing my dream of being able to do all that I wished to in one single location – and that dream became a reality with Mèlisses, a hospitality and culinary project I run on the Greek island of Andros since 2018.

Greece has always been a place dear to me and a second home to my family, and today, it is also the abode of my life’s passions.

Every year I collaborate with chefs, photographers, stylists, and bloggers to curate unique culinary gatherings; from the New York Times’ dessert columnist to the CNT’s most-awarded photographers.

They have allowed me to delve into the world of cuisine in a much deeper way, but also, to experience the island from a different point of view each time.

What does Andros mean to you?

Andros is my second home. Even though I’m 100% Italian, I always feel like I belong here.

I love Greece and we’ve traveled quite a lot around the Greek isles and yet, there’s no place that feels/tastes/smells/looks/shines like Andros.

It took me some time to discover it, it’s a rather complex island, and you need to scratch the surface in order to capture its essence.

Why is hospitality so important in our life?

As a traveler myself, I have always appreciated human connections more than destinations.

It’s always about the experience/journey/discovery.

People can have a huge impact by helping us create meaningful memories and simply shaping our perception of a place in a good or bad way.

This is why we care and pay so much attention to our guests, making sure that they’re not only having a good time at Mèlisses, but they experience the island in a profound and authentic way.

This is hospitality to me...

What makes ''Melisses'' so magnificent?

The location of Mèlisses and its proximity to nature is to me, the most important and special aspect of Mèlisses.

It also reflects each of our family member’s personalities. My dad’s interest in the exteriors, landscaping, my mother’s love for antiques, interiors, my appreciation of anything related to food or the kitchen environment, and my sister Andrea's love for comfort and practicality.

This melting pot of different points of view, results in an eclectic outcome, embracing the true Mediterranean lifestyle.

How is your everyday agenda and how do you combine your intense business life with your personal life?

We work every day, including weekends for seven months straight. We live and work on the same premises which can often be a challenge, but we are beyond lucky to share our everyday life with such wonderful guests.

Life can be hectic and stressful at times, but we never forget how lucky we are to live here.

A dip in the sea after breakfast, a hike in the afternoon, a drink in the neoclassical village of Chora, even a bad day, can be easily forgotten.

I am very lucky to have my team here with me. I started everything on my own. From cooking to cleaning and managing everything. An intense and beautiful journey, where I learned so much.

Now I have my small team, two wonderful angels Veronika and Allegra (yes there’s two of us in the house!) who assist me daily with the guests and my adopted Andros’ family, Anna, George, and Thanassis that help me to maintain and manage the house beautiful.

Mèlisses is a lady and needs to age gracefully :)

Are you the type of character who would swim against the stream or would you rather be on the safe side?

I have always been incredibly adventurous and quite irrational. Especially when you are creative, I believe this is a common feature, I love to improvise.

What skills are needed in the hospitality industry?

Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility, and love to be around people.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has triggered an unprecedented crisis in the tourism economy. Are you optimistic about the whole new situation?

We’ve been working tirelessly this year. We’ve been extremely lucky overall and I think that people are ready to close this chapter and start a new one, being aware that life is short and we should enjoy it!

Future plans or dreams waiting to come true?

A little Mèlisses in Abruzzo, my hometown in Italy is slowly coming alive. I’m also planning on expanding Mèlisses a bit and perhaps one day create a small tapas bar.

In the meantime, I’m working on a small gourmet brand, which includes also special honey from the island.

There’s so much we want to do and I love to keep busy :)