Epirus: The land of stone bridges
by Dean Vitoros - 5 years, 2 months ago
I visited this corner of Greece a couple of years ago with a very special guest coming all the way from Africa to get a taste of Greek culture and rural life. It was a warm, lazy summer with a lot of potential for seaside excursions, however we both decided we felt more like getting in touch with nature and mountainous landscapes. Epirus is the land of icy cold streams, tall mountains and rock bridges; it is no secret that the area was the highlight of the war between Greece and Italy before the Nazi invasion, where the Greeks triumphed over the invaders taking advantage of the rough landscape and the extreme temperatures of the isolated mountain ranges. Epirus is nowadays a very calm, authentic and interesting destination for the visitor: apart from its beautiful scenery, Ioannina (its capital and biggest city) boasts some very rich Ottoman history, present through the existence of a lot of old mosques all around. Also, it is a place of important craftsmanship and jewel-making traditions, as well as interesting culinary experiences. Apart from Ioannina, the Zagori villages, collectively known in Greek as Zagorochoria, are a delight for the visitor, with stone houses and monasteries at the edge of the most dramatic mountain cliffs. People in the area are very sweet, hospitable and know how to make business, especially in the slightly more touristic villages, that literally survive from summer tourism. We met some really nice people who shared part of their heritage with us. Overall, this is a very authentic experience for lovers of hidden destinations from the crowds, who also want to get a taste of real Greek and Balkan history, hospitality and cuisine.