Leros: the Greek island with just a touch of Italy

This Dodecanese gem has 20th-century Italian influences as well as the classic repertoire of secret beaches and laid-back tavernas

‘It is an unusual island,” said my friend Yannis, slightly self-consciously. “We are a bit different from our neighbours.”

Yannis, a cafe owner, is right: Leros is unusual, but in a good way. It is just a few miles from Turkey, but a million tourist miles from Kos and Rhodes, its Dodecanese siblings. It has mostly slipped under the holiday radar, which is a shame because it has everything we all want from a Greek island – beaches, fishing villages, tavernas, ruins – plus an extraordinary modern history. And for that we can thank Mussolini.

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