What I am always saying to people asking me about the Greek islands, is that although they are marvellous and I absolutely love discovering them, there are so many unique places in mainland Greece to visit and explore as well.
One of the top places that combine the experience of the mountain with the ethereal sense of the Aegean is Pelion peninsula. Almost halfway between Athens and Thessaloniki, the country’s two biggest cities, Pelion has a soul of its own and its villages are a charm.
Did you know that Pelion was the summer residence of the Olympian Gods?
Tsagarada, perfectly situated on the eastern slopes of the mountain, is one of my favorite places to stay in this area, perhaps because it’s the first village where I stayed when I visited with my parents and sister for the first time many years ago and I have fond memories.
Many years later, we re-visited the area, travelling with Thanos and another couple and I declare that it still is as unique as I remembered it to be.
And Amanita guesthouse is a truly great place to stay while exploring this area.
The owners, Filaretos Psimmenos and his wife, Marianna, live in harmony with the nature that surrounds them and they are particularly interested in the culinary world. The guests of Amanita have the option to join walking tours and collect wild herbs, sprouts and mushrooms, but also to attend cooking lessons and workshops about the use of herbs for culinary and medicinal purposes.
When we visited, we went together with Filaretos in the forest where we collected and tasted wild strawberries –this was the first time for me, and the explosion of taste in my mouth took me by surprise.
Superb homemade breakfast
What impressed me the most, was their homemade breakfast: it is more like a brunch, keeps you full almost until dinner time and it is so delicious that I still haven’t found another place to beat that from my no. 1:
Freshly squeezed juice
Various pies (I am still dreaming often about tasting again their cheese and fennel pies) and
Homemade cakes are just a part of it.
They cultivate fruits and herbs in their organic garden so they are as fresh as they can possibly be. For yoghurt, honey, oil and flour they use local suppliers and they value the seasonality of the ingredients.
Plus, they serve breakfast until 12 pm, which is how it should be everywhere! Right?
The guesthouse itself is spectacular, renovated in the traditional architecture of the area using local materials such as chestnut, old stone, and slate roofing tiles combined with the skill of Epirot stonemasons (proud moment of my Epirotic origins!). We stayed at the “Aigaio” Suite, which is located at the upper floor of the main building and we absolutely loved the experience and the feel-good vibes of the decoration, the quality products used and of course the view of the Aegean. But honestly, all rooms are lovely –even the tiny one- while there is also 2 cottages and an apartment, which would work well for families.
Staying in a traditional mountain village and being able to swim in the mesmerizing waters of the Aegean Sea (Mylopotamos, Papa Nero and Fakistra beach are just a few of the options) is, for me, a quintessential experience of Greece.
Filaretos and Marianna currently run a crowdfunding campaign in order to publish their book called ‘the culinary curiosity of a hotelier’ with stories and recipes from the gastronomic tradition of Pelion, Greece which aims to preserve the culinary heritage of the region.
Here is an extract of what they have to say about the project:
“For more than 10 years now, we make efforts to reveal and creatively use the culinary culture of our area. During this journey, we collected lots of information, recipes, experiences and stories that we happily share with our guests. It was their enthusiasm about this material that inspired us to write it down. They helped us realize, that it is much more than just a bunch of recipes. It is about preserving culinary culture, paying tribute to our families’ story, looking at the ways people in the area survived and developed relying on locally available resources.
We created a book of 150 pages titled “The culinary curiosity of a hotelier” with 34 stories and 63 recipes, combining past and present, mountain and sea, the vegetable and the herb garden and ending up around a table full of goodies in our courtyard – like every Greek feast does. Today we are reaching out to you, so that we may publish this book, in two versions – a Greek and an English one. Help us preserve the culinary heritage of our region and share the experience of living in this unique place with people all over the world.”
Recipes and stories, such a cool idea. Can’t wait to read their cookbook!
If you want to support them, you can do it here – https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-culinary-curiosity-of-a-hotelier-book#/
Of course, you can also support their project by spreading the word about it!
Tsagarada, Pelion, Greece
Photo Copyrights: All photos are courtesy of Amanita guesthouse.
So now tell me, what was the best breakfast you have ever had in a hotel or a guesthouse? What was unique about it? What would you like to see more in hotels and guesthouses in Greece or around the world?