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Athens Matters; Roberto Greco

top executive shares his views on why Athens really does matter...

Athens Matters; Roberto Greco
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People should come to Athens, to literally “live” – experience the “big blue” of the Greek sky and sea, the Greek culture going back to ancient times, the city’s nightlife and meet people with passion for life...

Since early February we’ve been delivering a unique insight into one of the world’s most fascinating cities, as part of a partnership with its most inspired hotel group, YES! Hotels. Influential locals – internationally renowned architects to wine magnates – have been sharing their Athens; culture, eating out, unwinding, people-watching and partying – those in the know have imparted valuable knowledge, creating a truly original series of city guides.

A Roman who’s passionate about all his adopted city has to offer, GlaxoSmithKline Greece general manager (and free diving addict), Roberto Greco gives us his tips on must-do wonders, the best spots for dining out, and his opinion on why Athens Matters…

Athens Matters; Roberto Greco

Photo © We Heart

Athens Matters; Roberto Greco

Odeon of Herodes Atticus Theater in Acropolis,
courtesy Shutterstock

Hello Roberto, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I began my career in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods sector holding various management positions based in Rome, Milan and Athens. In 2008 I moved to the Pharmaceutical Industry in Greece and have been working there ever since. Today, I am General Manager of GlaxoSmithKline Greece.

As work-life balance is very important to me, I take any opportunity to enjoy my favourite outdoor hobbies such as sailing and free diving, for which Greece is a kind of paradise. Free diving is an integral part of my life and is much more than a sport. It helps me clear my thinking, sharpen my focus and ultimately challenge myself to always go one step further. It has proven to me that there is absolutely no limit to what one can achieve.

How long have you been in Athens?

I have been living in Athens since 2005, when I moved for The Coca Cola Company where I was working at the time. I was very quickly integrated into the Greek reality and soon realised this was much more than a temporary move. With a surname like “Greco”, maybe it was just meant to be…. I spent a lot of time learning about the country’s culture and especially appreciated the sun, the sea and the vibe of the city.

Athens Matters; Roberto Greco

Souvlaki photo © Georgia Konsta,
courtesy GuidePal

Athens Matters; Roberto Greco

Photo © We Heart

Can you give us your top 5 tips for someone with just 48 hours to spend in Athens?

1 & 2. I would say the absolute ‘must’ is to visit the Acropolis as well as the temple of Poseidon at Sounio. If possible watch the sunset from Sounio, even better if you have romantic company. An interesting tip is that these two temples together with the temple of Afaia Athena at Aegina, even though miles away from each other, form a symbolic triangle (the holy triangle of ancient times).
3. Walk in the old city centre – Plaka and Adrianou street
4. Enjoy the taste of the Greek souvlaki while feeling the buzz and energy of the city rhythm
5. Attend any event in Odeon of Herodes Atticus – open in summer months – the experience is unforgettable

A few quick-fire questions on your favourite spots: to find…the city’s best art… Acropolis Museum, also great street art in the Psyrri area …your favourite shops… Varvakeios market, especially the section for fish is a unique local experience that takes back many decades …best spot for dinner… Inbi Japanese restaurant in Kolonaki and Asty 68 in Gazi …to people watch… city centre, especially near the Syntagma Square and old city (Monastiraki and Plaka area) …and to relax… on the sailing boat going along the Attica coast.

Athens Matters; Roberto Greco

Inbi, Athens

Athens Matters; Roberto Greco

Poseidon Temple at Cape Sounion,
courtesy Shutterstock

What do you think sets Athens apart from the likes of London, New York and Paris?

Given that traveling has become less and less time-consuming and one can be anywhere in the world within hours, I think it gets down to what suits one best and where one feels more “at home”. As a pure Roman, and given the Mediterannean culture inherited in me, Athens is one of the few cities, apart from Rome, where I feel at home. The weather, the ancient ruins all over the city centre, the city’s vibe, make up for a unique experience.

Finally, could you tell us in one sentence why people should come to Athens?

People should come to Athens, to literally “live” – experience the “big blue” of the Greek sky and sea, the Greek culture going back to ancient times, the city’s nightlife and meet people with passion for life.

Athens Matters; YES! Hotels x We Heart