Ionce read that the Ancient Greeks couldn’t see the colour blue, that our eyes have only evolved to notice it in more modern times. It’s a shame for them, really, because the seas surroundin­g their islands contain so many shades of aqua and reflect such a vivid cerulean sky that they missed out on the way these deeply brilliant shades make your heart soar. And nowhere is this more true than the island of Sifnos, approximat­ely a four-hour ferry ride from Athens, a little outpost of sunshine, sand and stony hills that takes around 45 minutes to drive the length of. Dazzling white villas stud the coastline, looking out on to that incredible sea and the occasional fishing village, where food is served as fresh as the breeze, caught just hours before arriving on the plate.

The little coves that nestle into the curves of the island are imbued with a sleepiness, a lulling power in the quiet of the air. Renting Asteria villa via Airbnb, a design beauty with its own pool and no neighbours, I wake up to views of the sea, a laze in the hammock, a breakfast of figs, Greek bread, strong coffee and some reading. Both the house and island seduce you into a soporific sense, where a trip into town to stock up on fresh produce or a 10-minute walk to a near-deserted beach are quite enough activity for today, thank you. The villa itself, all poured concrete, bleached wood and slubby linens, is right in my aesthetic sweet spot; the epitome of barefoot luxury, smooth underfoot and soft on the eye. I lunch at the outdoor table, drive to the town in the centre for dinner and Greek dancing, read, swim, listen to podcasts and nap. I return from the island with something more than a tan, something you don’t get from every holiday. I come back feeling whole. A lot of that is down to the water, the restorativ­e power of its saline warmth. A lot of it is down to the fact that in Sifnos, you can’t help but switch off. PIP MCCORMAC

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Above and below: kick back and relax at Asteria villa.
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