Get to know Greece's snow-covered mountaintops, dense forests, aristocratic, old mansions, and evenings by the fireplace disclose a hidden charm.
n the prefecture of Larissa, on a green expanse across Kissavos mountain, stands the village of Metaxohori, known for its silk production. In the middle of thick woods and the Diavolorema river, stand simple village houses, as well as large mansions, reminders of the wealth of the 18th and 19th century. The one that stands out amongst the others is The Souliotis Mansion, renovated and currently a bed-and-breakfast; it offers a warm and nostalgic environment. You can spend your time going for long walks along the stone alleyways and drinking coffee in the village square. You can visit the old girl's school and light a candle at the chapel of St. Nicholas, with its silver dome. In the evening, after a meal of pepper pie, lachanodolmades and chicken stifado, enjoying a glass of strong, local tsipouro.
We begin with the funicular railway that crosses Vouraikos gorge, starting at Diakofto. On the way to the martyred town of Helmos, the train stops at Zachlorou where we can visit the historic Monastery of Megalo Spilaio. Then we arrive at the old railway-station in Kalavryta. Soon we find ourselves in Kalavryta amongst hundreds of skiers that fill the town, as there is a ski center only 14km away. One should enter the Museum of the Holocaust, make a stop under the clock of the Metropolitan church that is stuck at the time of the great disaster of 1943, and end up at the Agia Lavra Monastery. After our walk we can eat kleftiko lamb and cock with hylopites at the “Kalavryta” or “Alles Gefseis” taverns, try cheese pie and milk pudding at “GriGri”, and buy fresh products from the many small shops in the town center.
Built at 450m above the Aegean and near the ski-center in Chania, Tsagarada seems to be hiding within Pelion's rich vegetation. The mansions, the public buildings and the churches divide the town into seperate neighbourhoods, such as Agioi Taxiarches with its wonderful spring and artful Basilica. In Agia Paraskevi, we can sit under the thousand-year-old tree and honour Anatoli’s spetzofai. Amongst the alleyways near the stone buildings of Achilopouleios school of commerce, the local high school and the Nanopouleios School, we find the fine hotel Lost Unicorn, known for its sophisticated, Victorian-style atmosphere and the daring gastronomic proposals of its chef, combining Pelian and international flavours.
Megalo and Mikro Papigo
In the prefecture of Ioannina and in the arms of Gamila, stand the artistically built, stone villages of Western Zagori. The road passes through woods over the spectacular gorge of Vikos, to lead us to the Megalo and Mikro Papigo. Megalo Papigo was a powerful medieval village, built at an altitude of 1000m, that charms with its architectural grace and sights such as the old church of Agios Vlassios. At a site with a spectacular view of the Gamila towers, stands the Papaevaggelou Pension, an ideal choice for a very comfortable stay. Here, Ioannides invites us to try his zagoritiki pie and paprikasse, combined with tsipouro and the famous wines Katoi and Zitsa. Afterwards, it’s worth walking to Mikro Papigo, the starting point for hikers that head to the conservatory of Astrakas and the alpine Drakolimni at 2497m.