A south Pindos escape
Built on the slopes of Mt Koziakas, the oblong mountain of the southern part of the Pindos, the picturesque villages of Elati and Pertouli are a major attraction of the wider area, not to mention a top winter destination throughout the country.
It is the largest mountainous village of the district of Trikala and the most touristic of them all. If you are into winter sports or relaxation in the midst of the mountain, Elati is the place for you. At a distance of only 34km from the city of Trikala and perched on the slopes of Mt Koziakas at an altitude of 950m, the village offers all the joys and benefits of a mountain holiday.
The gorgeousness of the landscapes all around the village, the scrumptious traditional cuisine of its tavernas, combined with loads of snow in the winter and freshness in the summer, makes Elati a place no less attractive than any famous destination in the Alps.
At 54km from the city of Trikala and 1.090m high on the slopes of Mt Koziakas, Pertouli is one more fascinating village built in an amphitheatre shape among thick woods, green fields and running waters. Once a meeting point for the farmers of the area, it is now a winter destination that stands out for its scenic houses with the red-tiled or stone roofs, its ski resort, and its excellent tourist infrastructure.
Only 5km out of the village, bushes and grass take over the fir forest to form the Pertouli Fields, ran by the river of Petrouliotiko, with a rich fauna and flora residing in and by its meandering water body. Watch horses canter by, cows graze lazily, and deer and roe deer pass by, while you’ll be on your favourite mountain activity or enjoying a picnic by brooks and ponds. It’s these fields you need to cross if you want to get to the refuge “Chatzipetros”, at 1.738m.
Sarakatsanaioi, the nomadic shepherds of the Greek mainland who are originated from all around the Pindos mountain range but may live the world across, meet here on their international annual meeting every May.
The whole area is full of gorgeous little villages, all rich with traditions and mouthwatering gastronomy. Among them, visit Dessi, Pyrra, and the area of Aspropotamos, where the river Acheloos springs. Doliana is the village with the 18th century monastery of the Holy Cross, known for its 13 domes. Last but not least, don’t forget to visit one of the most important Byzantine monuments throughout the country, the church of Porta Panagia with the famous mosaics of Christ and Virgin Mary. It is situated in the village of Pyli, where one can go through a stone bridge, the second biggest in the whole region of Thessaly. It was built in 1514 and it used to be the only passage from the plain of Thessaly to South Pindos and Arta until fairly recently.
Hiking and mountaineering will probably be the reasons why you’ll ever get here. Making the most of them will be a sheer pleasure for you, thanks to the endless beauty of Greek nature decorated, in this case, by sixteen stone bridges hidden in the forest here and there. The European path E4 is a must of a choice here, whereas river sports (rafting, monoraft, and canoe-kayak) can be practiced at the Acheloos River. Horseback riding and quad biking will allow you to take in the grandeur of the natural surroundings as much as mountain biking will. For the latter consider the location Tria Potamia that lies between the villages of Polythea and Kalliroe. The area of Agia Kyriaki is a wonderful camping site for those who want to spend their time as close to nature as possible. Winter fun hits its peak at the ski resort.
What to taste
In the tavernas of the wider area you’ll have the chance to taste some fine local products and dishes. Among them let us mention: trachaná (a granular grain product made with either semolina or wheat flour, or bulgur or cracked wheat, mixed with either milk -sweet trachana- or yogurt or buttermilk -sour trachana-) handmade pasta, pies with handmade dough sheet, lamb in ceramic pans, game meat, kontosouvli (a large pork skewer) kokoretsi (a large skewer of lamb’s entrails wrapped with its bowel) and cheese. Before leaving the area, don’t forget to buy oregano and other herbs, as well as free range beef.
By car and by bus or train from the city of Trikala.