Summer Weddings Buoy Economy Of Small Greek Island

The Greek economic crisis has barely grazed the tiny island of Folegandros. It lives off boutique tourism and island weddings that keep its small hotels, windmill houses and tavernas full. Joanna Kakissis sends a postcard of a very multinational wedding on the island.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And now to the birthplace of the Olympics. The tiny Greek island of Folegandros has managed to survive the economic crisis with summer weddings that keep its whitewashed hotels and tavernas busy. Joanna Kakissis sends us this postcard from one of those weddings - the European union of a Greek opera singer and an Italian ballet dancer.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHATTER)

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: Evmorphia Metaxaki is from Athens; Tommaso Balbo from Genoa. They live in Berlin and met six years ago during a production of "Orpheus and Eurydice." Tommaso danced as Orpheus, Evmorphia sang the soprano role of Amore. And on the last night of the show, Evmorphia took love into her own hands.

EVMORPHIA METAXAKI: I saw him on stage. Tommaso is a very talented dancer. So, at that moment, it was a very spontaneous decision. And I thought, OK, this is our last performance. I will do it.

KAKISSIS: Tommaso saw her move close.

TOMMASO BALBO: She felt like I want to kiss this guy. I'm going to kiss him. So, I said, OK, why not?

KAKISSIS: They both liked that kiss, and now, they're getting married.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KAKISSIS: Evmorphia wears a flowing white gown. Serenaded by two folk musicians, she walks with family and friends along the island's only paved road.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Bella.

(LAUGHTER)

KAKISSIS: Tommaso is waiting at a tiny white church. More guests are there and everyone claps when Evmorphia arrives. Beautiful, Tommaso says.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Singing in foreign language)

KAKISSIS: Inside, a priest in ivory robes blesses them and places stefana, or wedding crowns, on their heads.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHATTER)

KAKISSIS: That's the cue for the guests to throw rice and shout have a great life.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KAKISSIS: Outside, Margarita Marinaki watches the festivities. She's lived on Folegandros for 78 years - her whole life.

MARGARITA MARINAKI: (Greek spoken)

KAKISSIS: There isn't a soul in the village square in winter, she says. It's cold and windy. But in the summer, there are these weddings. There have been six or seven so far this year. The celebration continues at a taverna, where a DJ puts on Zorba's Dance. The guests - Greeks, Italians, French and Germans - link arms, kicking left, then right. A crowd gathers to watch and clap, then joins in. And as the music gets faster and faster, the wedding dance fills the village square.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Bravo.

(APPLAUSE)

KAKISSIS: For NPR News, I'm Joanna Kakissis.

WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News.

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