The Pelion Peninsula is one of Greece’s best kept secrets. Green and lush all summer, its seemingly endless forests are home to jet black squirrels, martens and wild boar. Bubbling streams rush down wooded valleys through timeless olive groves into the sea, where the air-filled fresh water creates bubbling natural jaccuzis.
Before Greek independence, the coast was prone to pirate raids, and fortified mountain villages were built out of sight of the dangerous coastline. Citadels in miniature, these villages reflect the story of the region’s turbulent past. The mansions, or “archonitka” have huge doors which can be barricade shut and murder holes set into the walls cover the entrances.
With the coming of peace to this region, villages were built on the lower slopes of the mountain, and little fishing ports along the coast, and a huge network of huge network of cobbled paths was built to link the lower villages to the mountain communities, These paths, unique in Greece are still used by locals to travel by mule between their olive groves on the lower slopes and the mountain villages.
The peninsula has two distinctly different sides – the Pagasitic Coast, warm and sheltered with many sandy beaches, and the wild Aegean where steep cliffs plunge down to enclose tiny coves.
The Pelion is famous for its food – local specialities include the hearty spestofai – a sausage stew made with sweet pepper and leeks and kouneli stifado, rabbit stew. The local sprit tsipouro, which is similar to ouzo, is enjoyed with mezedes, mini portions of meat, cheese or fish, rather like the better known Spanish tapas