YOUR SOURCE FOR ALL THINGS GREEK WINE-RELATED
I just returned from arguably the most breathtaking scenery in all of Greece! Don’t get me wrong, sunsets in Santorini are amazing, the clear blue colors of the Aegean are gorgeous and the charming cobblestoned streets in so many ancient villages are, well, charming. But the area of Zagori has it all…and more!
Located in NW Greece on the border of Albania, Zagori is situated in the Pindus Mountains in the region of Epirus. An easy 2-1/2 hour drive from Thessaloniki (6 hr from Athens), this area is a perfect example of a Greece many don’t know. There are no beaches, no archaeological ruins, no shopping, no crowds. Instead, you experience
forested mountains with snow-capped peaks (highest peak 8,700 ft!), deep canyons, crystal clear rivers, mountain villages, geological wonders, and kilometers of killer hiking trails.
Zagori consists of 46 mountain villages spread over 1,000 kilometers, each with its own unique characteristics and history. This network of villages is also referred to as Zagorochoria. We stayed in the village of Aristi, not far from the famous Vikos Gorge (deepest in the world!) and the Voidomatis River with its crystal clear springs which was perfect for rafting!
While we only stayed 4 days, we got up to speed rather quickly thanks to Paris Zografos, a friend of winemaker Stellios Boutaris. A true outdoorsman, Paris moved to Zagori several years ago to help visitors get the best Zagorian experience possible. Over a glass of the local wine variety ‘Debina’, we had our hikes mapped, our rafting trip booked, our restaurants chosen!
If we hadn’t already checked in to our hotel, I’m sure we would have been booked into one of his 2 guesthouses! He is a one-stop tourism shop!
Our only regret is that we did not stay longer. But we will be back! This area will become the cornerstone of my future Greek Grape Northern Tour. But in the meantime, here are some helpful hints should you decide to visit before then.
WHERE TO STAY: Aristi Mountain Resort, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World; Stella and her staff do an outstanding job at this mountain chic lodge
MUST DO’s: Hike Vikos Gorge, Raft the Voidomatis River, Visit the stone bridges, Tour the 14thc Saint Paraskevi Monastery, Eat the famous Kikitsas pies, Simply stroll the villages, Relax!
Check out Paris’s services at Tsouka Rossa if you need a local guide to help arrange your hiking, biking, rafting or other activities! He recently toured Elizabeth Gilbert of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ (see what she had to say about it), so why not you! Tell him, Lisa sent you!
Later this week, I’ll give you an overview on the wines and wineries of this wonderful region. As with the scenery, the wines are spectacular and can’t be missed! Until next time….