Spring Destination: Tsagarada on Mount Pilio

Located at an altitude of 450m in a rich forest on the slopes of Pilio, Tsagarada is close to both the sea and incredible mountain landscapes.


TOP REASONS TO VISIT:

1. The extraordinary forest

Tsagarada is actually a relatively sparsely populated village located in an incredible forest. One can enter this wild and verdant natural wonder in a dozen different ways via the charming stone-paved streets of the village. At this time of year, the damsons and apple trees are in full bloom, and the flowers have the landscape looking (and smelling) its best.

2. The diversity of landscapes and microclimates

From Tsagarada a large variety of landscapes are within easy reach; you can either drive down to the sea which is only about 10 minutes away, or head up to higher altitudes depending on your mood. Hike in alpine terrain in the morning and then enjoy a late lunch in the warm seaside sunshine. The sheer size of Mt. Pilio means spring is a little late to reach the higher altitudes, while towards the plains, shrubs and fruit trees are already in bloom.

3. Wondrous hikes

Even if it is a little early for a swim as the waters are still a bit chilly, a hike towards the sea is still appealing. The nearest beaches are at Mylopotamos and Fakistra. Access to Fakistra may be a bit of challenge for beginners, but not an insurmountable one.

At this time of year, hikers can view a magnificent waterfall that will gradually disappear in the summer months. The longest recommended route, 4.5 km, is along the trail beginning at Tsagarada and ending at the gorgeous beach of Damouchari.

 4. The variety and flavors of the wild edible plants

You can become a forager for a day and collect all that spring has to offer – including wild asparagus and black bryony, known locally as vergia (many locals will be able to provide guidance in identifying the plants). Once boiled for a few minutes in salted water, their concentrated flavor will more than compensate you for your efforts. For experts and the more daring, the flowers of the Mediterranean hartwort are also edible, as is the mustard plant, growing naturally throughout the region. (Be careful however to only collect plants you know to be edible).

5. The splendid local cuisine

One of the traditional but little known Pilio dishes is wild greens with eggs. Tsagarada claims bragging rights for introducing this recipe into local cookbooks. In spring, locals also pick terebinth, a plant that is delicious when pickled in brine and popularly served as a meze. Many local tavernas still serve wild boar, a local dish that lends itself to a myriad variations.

EASTER IN PILIO

Τhe ‘Double Dance’ is performed in the central squares of the villages throughout the region on Easter Sunday. The priest himself starts the Double Dance, accompanied by four lines of dancers – two for men and two for women.  In general, the landscape is in full bloom and at its best to offer a unique Easter experience.

MINI GUIDE

GETTING THERE

Tsagarada is 370 km from Athens (4.5 hours, €100 for gas and tolls, round-trip) and 250 km from Thessaloniki (3 hours, €60 for gas and tolls, round-trip).

ACCOMMODATION 

Amanita (tel. +30 24260.497.07). At the edge of the forest, with excellent hosts. Breakfast is an experience: seasonal and completely homemade. From €75, incl. breakfast.

The lost unicorn (tel. +30 24260.499.30). A storybook guesthouse in the European style with magnificent common areas. From €75 (depending on number of nights), with an authentic English breakfast.

• If based in Volos, about 54 km from Tsagarada, the Domotel Xenia (1 Plastiras St., tel. +30 24210.927.00) offers a comfortable stay with luxurious options at the modern spa. From €120 for a double, incl. breakfast, and use of the spa (minimum stay, 3 nights).

FOOD

• Agnanti (tel. +30 24260.492.10). A simple restaurant serving tasteful Mediterranean cuisine, hosted by Maria Jose from Spain and Konstantinos.

• Paradeisos (tel. +30 24260.492.09). Its specialty is greens in tomato sauce and eggs together with other traditional fare. Good wine list.

• Deipnosofistis (tel. +30 24260.498.25). Greek Mediterranean cuisine using local ingredients in a lovely building. Emphasis on wine.



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