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Skopelos cashes in on Mamma Mia

- by Jeremy Guest

Skopelos holidays still cash in on Mamma Mia.

It had to happen I suppose, but the wonder is it has lasted so long. Visitors on a Skopelos holiday can still hardly escape the Greek island's links with the hit musical movie 'Mamma Mia'. Released in 2008, the romantic comedy musical was mostly filmed on the Greek island of Skopelos and, obviously, the locals cashed in on what became the UK's highest grossing film ever.

Years later, Skopelos is still making the most of the ABBA-based musical with local travel agents Madro Travel leading the way with Skopelos island tours based on the film.

The top selling tour is a Skopelos island cruise on board the 'Odyssey' which visits many of the Mamma Mia movie locations.

Some of the most beautiful areas of Skopelos where chosen to shoot the Mamma Mia movie scenes when film crews descended on Skopelos in 2007.

Universal Pictures and Play Tone Productions combed the Mediterranean area for suitable sites before settling on the island of Skopelos, with its inviting coastline.

Skopelos holiday resorts that feature in the boat cruise include Amarantos and Agnontas. Amarantos was called the 'three trees' location for the scenes where movie heroine Sophie is seen reading her mother's diary and has a picnic with her trio of candidate fathers. Donna's Villa at Anarantos is a private home and cannot be visited.

The Skopelos holiday boat tour also takes in both Milia and Kastani beaches. Milia did not feature in the movie but this was the main base for film crews and their equipment. Milia beach was where breakfast meetings were held for the 230-strong crew on location.

Kastani Beach, however, featured very strongly in the Mamma Mia movie. The jetty and Donna's bar were built here for some of the movie's best-loved moments and it's where the Abba songs 'Does your mother know you are out' and 'Lay all your love on me' were filmed.

Kastani beach is one of the best on Skopelos and known for its tranquillity and serene beauty. Both the beach bar and jetty have gone but the memorable backdrops remain.

Top on the boat tour's list though is the tiny chapel of Agios Ioannis, located in the remote north-east of Skopelos. You can stand on the spot where Meryl Streep sang 'The winner takes it all' before running up the steps to the church, as she did, although you may find the steps rather steep.

The famous wedding scene in Mamma Mia was shot here over four days, although the chapel interior in the movie was not the original one. Any visitor will see that the real chapel is far too small.

If you want to see the church interior on which the studio-filmed setting was based, you should visit the Church Panayitsa tou Pirgou in Skopelos Town.

Other Skopelos resorts that featured in the films are Milia Beach, with Dhasia islet in the background, where the three fathers sang 'Our last summer' and the place where the boat 'Jason' – featured in the song 'Money, money, money' – was moored in the pretty beach harbour of Agnontas.

Of course, the Skopelos holiday visitor can find all these memorable places without a tour guide but they will need a jeep and a map as many are quite remote.

For those that don't like boats, Madro Travel offers an overland tour. Giorgos Drossou co-ordinated transportation during filming, so he knows what he's doing and he leads the Mamma Mia tours of Skopelos.

film.12(Mamma Mia) is the highest grossing musical film ever worldwide and is the third highest-grossing musical film in the US. On its release, the DVD became the fastest-selling of all time in the UK and sold 1,669,084 copies on its first day. By 2009 it had become the biggest selling DVD ever in the UK, with over 5 million copies sold.