Suzi Stembridge's Novels, Blog & A File on Greece


FLY DRIVE in Central Greece - a historic renaissance and the mountain villages of mainland Greece

If Delphi is the navel of the earth  (and consequently inundated with the curious of the human species) then Nafpaktos, just over an hour from Delphi, has to be the alternative centre in which to base oneself. Almost midway between the two greatest ancient sites, Olympia and Delphi and not too far, come to that, from Corinth, Mycenae and Epidavros and Athens itself, Nafpaktos can be a great place to stay for a more relaxing night if you wish to avoid the crowds and expensive tourist restaurants of these well-known historic areas.


With its own ancient harbour framed by the long ramparts which run down to the sea from the 15th century Venetian fortress - historically known as Lepanto - above the town. To be fair the historical aspect is minimal but the place has been much improved with the halt of huge lorries edging through the old town now the new by-pass is in use. There is a choice of modest, but good hotels and restaurants along the beachside and the place has a pleasant atmosphere.


On a fly-drive it fits in nicely with those coming down from (or going up) to Pelion, Halkidiki, the Meteora – and of course Delphi, as well as those going north to Epirus and the Zagorochoria) as well as being only 8kms from the wonderful Rio-Antirio suspension bridge (which must be one of the modern wonders of the 21st century) which links the Nafpaktia with the Peloponnese and the wonderful ancient sites, Byzantine churches and monasteries, not to mention the stone built villages.


Zagorochoria – the villages of Zagoria in Epirus – along with those in Pelio and the Eastern Peloponnese – are traditional stone built mountain villages, usually still supporting the silver grey heavy slate roofs, clinging to mountainsides and known for their elegant churches, wooden doors and gateways and beautiful village squares shaded by plane or chestnut trees. Until you have walked the old paved and cobbled pathways, centuries old, often stepped and explored the deep gorges that so often divide one mountain range and one village from another you have not really experienced Greece to the full.