At the end of the Pelion Peninsula is the tiny island of Trikeri, one of Greece’s undiscovered gems. Only about 20 people live here. There are no roads, and no cars – transport is on foot or by mule. It is less than thirty minutes’ walk from one side to the other and you walk through hillsides covered in thyme and juniper to deserted beaches and coves.
Our Sail and Shore holidays invariably pass via Trikeri, being, as it as at the mouth of the Pagasitic Gulf. There we stay in the fortified monastery, with spectacular views across the Pagasitic Gulf to the Pelion Peninsula. The rooms, simple-arched cells, give onto the first floor cloister, with its resident owl.
The monastery itself has a curious history. The Pelion itself has fortified mountain villages, which offered protection against the pirates for which this area was notorious. The island of Trikeri had no such protection, so the islanders built the hill-top monastery – a mini fortress which could be barricaded shut. The monastery was never occupied by monks, though, the islanders preferring to keep it to themselves. A few years ago, there was a move by the Orthodox church to re-populate – or rather, simply populate – the monastery but the islanders fought off the ecclesiastical intrusion, insisting that the monastery was theirs and theirs alone! So, it remains a monk-free zone to this day, although it does have a resident priest and you can go to mass in the central church.