The weather forecast for the weekend of March 25th (Greek Revolution Day) was very encouraging. We are already in the spring –as the calendar showed-, and our mood is elevated. It was therefore almost certain that this weekend will not be left untapped. On the occasion of the visit of Stratos in Kalamata, we decided to wander in the region of Messinia. The most popular attractions I had visited before. With the help of the map trying to find an alternative route that would give us the opportunity to wander in unknown parts to us.
After some searching we decided to visit the northern Peloponnese. The program of the tour did not include many kilometers, so we didn’t start very early. In fact, we were lucky because in the morning Giorgos Z. phoned us, informing us that he will come together. So, as he would come from Nafplio, we gave rendezvous at the archaeological site of Ancient Messini.
Stratos and I departed in 12:30pm. We chose to head towards the Ancient Messini, via Trikorfo, which suits us, moreover, because of the place that we would spend the night. Beyond that, I thought it was more interesting route through Strefi - Sterna - Trikorfo (35km.) than we would follow the more-casual-way through Meligala.
In the small village of Sterna it worth doing a short stop in the picturesque downtown as it has a stone bridge and 2-3 traditional stone houses, which I believe that impresses. Shortly before Trikorfo, we stopped to enjoy the view of snow mountain of Taygetus and the Messinian valley in the background which we could distinguish the Messinian Gulf.
After passing the village Trikorfo and Ellinoekklisia, we turned right towards the Ancient Messini, following the relevant markings that existed. The track was pretty much across olive groves and small meadows with daisies and flowering almond trees. After about 10km. we arrived in the village of Arsinoe, where you can enjoy from above the archeological site.
Ancient Messini is one of the largest in size, shape and maintain cities of antiquity. It has, among other things, the rare privilege of not having been destroyed or covered by modern settlements and is an eminently Mediterranean intact natural environment. The excavations and restorations have started about 100 years ago and have an impressive result, and give visitors a good impression of the city.
Once we entered the area, GiorgosZ. arrived. It was perfect timing to visit together the archaeological finds, such as Theatre, Asklipeio, the Stadium, the ancient fountain of Arsinoe, and others. It should be noted that admission is free and hours are due 3pm. Before leaving, we decided to drink a coffee at a cafe in a picturesque square (parking) of the village, after having made a short stop at the source of Klepsythra.
The time passed pleasantly, but it had reached the moment of departure. We followed the western route passing through the stunning Arcadian Gate (2 km) of the ancient city, intended to the village of Malthi (13km). The portal is part of the remaining wall is a symbol of power and sample high fortification technique. In antiquity effectively protect the main road linking the ancient Messini with Arcadia.
Following the path Zerbisia - Kefalinos - Reumatia, we crossed a beautiful winding path, with little traffic, low vegetation and olive trees to reach the village of Malthi. The altitude of the route did not exceed 600m. We found that the entire route is asphalt paved, in contrast to that reported by most available maps.
Shortly after Malthi, we met the archaeological site of ancient Malthi and especially the vaulted Mycenaean tomb, which was like a miniature of that of Mycenae. Continue for about 9km. found in the road Kalo Nero – Allagi. Turn left with destination the node of Kopanaki (8km).
Following the signs to the “Temple of Epicurean Apollo”, “river Neda”, we rode to a spiral ascent passing from the villages Sitochori, Kefalovrisi, Avlona. In many parts it offered spectacular panoramic view. Shortly before the village of Platania, the road narrows and the view of the canyon Neda was amazing! The village of Platania has a hostel and restaurants, as well as a dirt road-access to the river Neda (the only river in Greece with feminine name).
Guided by the markings on the Temple of Epicurean Apollo, we rode a lot of nice comfortable ride turns and spectacular scenery. Indeed, at some point we stopped to enjoy the sight of a towering waterfall.
A few kilometers after we arrived in the village of Phigaleia, located in the same area as the ancient homonymous city. Shortly before the village, we expect a surprise because the paved road, suddenly(!) was cut from a passable dirt road (about 100-200m.) to the point of the ancient fountain, located beneath a huge and impressive tree. Of course, the short stop was to be expected. From that point the trail starts (M2) for the waterfall we had seen just before.
We continued riding on a beautiful route, which climbed hypsometrical, reaching just about 1300m., until we approached the impressive temple of Epicurus Apollo. Giorgos Z. and Stratos visited it, -as it was their first time there-, while I preferred to wait, photographing the surrounding area.
When they returned, we left along the road to Kalamata and especially to Ambeliona (7km). The road was quite good, with beautiful curves, which made driving enjoyable. Reaching Ampeliona you are immediately able to understand the diversity. It is a stone, traditional village with tourism development. It has an impressive and luxurious guest house and a restaurant. Apart from these, visitors can wander the chestnut forest and several small churches located near the village.
In one case, we also made a stop. In particular 5-6km. after the village, we stopped at the chapel of the Holy Resurrection next to the sources of the river Neda. The landscape and the flowing waters emerging from rock next to the courtyard of the church, creating a unique effect! We had the opportunity to learn-from-a local lady of the existence of another small church located a few kilometers below.
Indeed, just before the village Kakaletri is the small church of the Assumption, near river. The landscape is unique, composed of several planes. In this location, as we were informed, the local youth, on August the 13th, organizes a River Party, to highlight the area.
We departed for Kalamata, continuing to the beautiful path, without getting tired at all. Basically after the village of Kato Melpeia, the road crossed the valley, until we found the road Kalo Nero - Allagi - Kalamata.From there we followed the national highway to get to the Leika district (suburb of Kalamata), where is the nice restaurant of "Barba-lias" (=Uncle Elias), with the delicious cuisine. As expected, the issue that monopolized the conversation was our impressions of the day and plans for the next trip...