Author: abouthotelier

Following the olive route in Messinia

Uncover the secrets of Messinia, in the southwest Peloponnese, through its most famous product… luscious, golden, extra-virgin olive oil.

Nothing represents Messinia quite like olive oil. You see it, feel it and taste it everywhere around you: In the acres of silver/green-leafed trees, perfectly lined up for easy harvesting; in the olive presses dotted around the countryside; and in the local food that melts in your mouth. So to explore this region of the Peloponnese through the prism of its most famous product is to travel to its very heart.

As you are guided around a Messinian olive grove, you learn all about the connection of this noble fruit with the people and land that have produced it since antiquity, making it a staple of the Mediterranean diet.

It’s worth timing your visit to coincide with the harvest – a community-affair of laying out nets, beating the gnarled trunks or branches with a stick and watching the fruit fall. And then on to the olive press, where the magic happens. There are traditional mills and modern high-volume facilities, but they all have the same goal. An astonishing 95% of the olive oil produced in Messinia is extra-virgin. Just take a chunk of bread and taste the liquid gold and you’ll understand why.

You’ll learn that olive oil sampling is every bit as sophisticated as wine tasting. You’ll talk acidity (the lower the better), variety (Koroneiki is king down here), aromas (freshly cut grass, tropical fruit…) and taste (bitter, peppery…). And of course you’ll meet the colourful personalities behind the product.

There’s a depth to the experience you’d scarcely have imagined, but most of all it’s the tastes that will stay with you – especially when you buy a bottle or two and return home with a part of the Peloponnese you’ll never forget.

Source: https://www.discovergreece.com/

Instagrammable Voidokilia Beach in the Peloponnese

Nowhere captures the majesty of nature quite like the iconic horseshoe-shaped beach and its accompanying saltwater lagoon in Messinia.

Voidokilia beach, tucked away on the coast of Messinia, leads an impressive double life. Shaped in a perfect semi-circle, its golden sand and interplay of turquoise and blue sea have rightly propelled it towards the top of Instagram bucket lists. Less well known is that it also backs onto one of the most important wetlands in Europe.

And so, approaching it on foot, Voidokilia captures your heart twice over – first as a saltwater lagoon included in the Natura 2000 network for protected biotopes, and then as an exotic paradise in which to sunbathe and swim (and even extend your exploration under the gaze of a 13th century Frankish Castle).

A path extends through the Gialova (or Divari) lagoon, with an observatory and other observation points along the way. Including migratory birds, more than 250 species of bird are found here through the year, of which 79 are on the ‘Red List’ of species under threat of extinction.

Once you arrive at the beach, it’s another kind of awe that grips. From ground level, the scene is scarcely less impressive than the iconic horseshoe-shaped image of the beach photographed from above. As well as the sweeping gold and blue of sand and sea, there’s Paliokastro (or Nestor’s Castle) gazing down at you from the hilltop in the distance. And as if that’s not enough, there’s a vaulted tomb near the entrance to the beach attributed to Nestor’s son, Thrasymedes.

You can spend the rest of the day lazing and swimming, but find time to explore the beach, picking up the path beyond the sand dunes at the far end that leads up to Nestor’s Cave. The story goes that this is where Hermes hid the cattle stolen from Apollo. Your photos from here will be no less mythical.

The path continues upwards and gives even more impressive photo opportunities, but it does become challenging and be aware that the castle itself is closed to visitors.

Source: https://www.discovergreece.com/

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