The Pelion Peninsula

Woodland church Pelion GreeceThe 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 to the sea. Its boasts a huge network of cobbled paths, 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.

Spring flowers PelionThe Pelion is famous for its food – local specialites 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

Centaurs

Hercules fighting a centaur

In ancient times, the region of Thessaly was famous for its horses, which were reared on the Plain of Larissa. Before riding became commonplace, the sight of mounted horsemen gave rise in neighbouring tribes to rumours of strange beasts, half man, half horse that lived in the wilds of Mount Pelion.

The centaurs of mythology were the ultimate problems neighbours. Unable to hold their drink, they used to gate-crash parties, disgrace themselves, and ravish or make off with (or both) any maiden they could get their hands (or hooves) on.

Eventually driven from their mountain stronghold, they went to Arcadia before finally vanishing, appearing only in modern times with a character make-over as the universal logo of every tourist venue in the area.

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