On a sunny January day, George, Eliza, George’s mom Christina and Maritina decided to go on a day trip. The occasion was Mrs. Christina’s birthday that we would celebrate properly! Having already made several one-day excursions to destinations close to Athens, this time we chose Vytina, a cosmopolitan village in Mountainous Arcadia.
In our new travel article we make a one-day trip to Vytina. There we drink warm beverages, eat delicious food, visit the Folklore Museum, take a walk on the Road of Love and the Forest of Vytina and end the day with a sweet and a drink. And a surprise … a handmade cake by Eliza for Mrs. Christina, George’s mom, for her birthday!
Vytina is a mountain village in the Prefecture of Arcadia, built at an altitude of 1033 meters on Mount Mainalo. It is 185 km from Athens, ie 2 hours and 10 minutes by car. It is an ideal distance for a weekend, but also for a day trip to the countryside.
As soon as we arrived in the village we realized at first glance how developed it is in terms of tourism. The main square with the cafes and the tourist shops was literally full of people! Vytina is a beautiful village, with picturesque streets, stone buildings and rich nature where firs dominate, and is rightly called the “gem of Mainalo”.
In the central point of the square dominates a very special bronze statue, the statue of the pioneer Vytina student of the Resistance Matthaios Potagas. The statue, as we read, was created by Mathios’s sister, Eleni Potaga. Mathios was 17 years old on May 2, 1941 when the first German troops were heading for Vytina. After a heroic act of resistance, the young hero was executed by the conquerors.
Stand up. You will not enslave us. I’m here alone. But the whole of Greece follows.Matthaios Potagas
In the square there are many cozy cafes, where you can sit outside and enjoy the sun if the weather allows it, or inside the stone-built interiors that the fireplaces heat. We sat at Naiades Cafe Bar, for a while outside, but it got cold and we moved inside the cafe, overlooking the square.
Naiades is a shop for the whole day, from the morning with your coffee in the wonderful square of Vytina until the evening with their famous cocktails. In a stone building, with wood dominating and the fireplace warming the atmosphere, it is the ideal shelter for the cold days and nights of winter. In summer, its privileged position on the square next to the church of Saint Tryphon, makes this shop a place of meeting and entertainment.
From the rich list of Naiades we chose hot chocolates for the girls and coffee for the boy of the company. We got praline flavored chocolate, tsoureki flavored chocolate and Viennese chocolate and they were all delicious. We also got an appetite for the perfect sweets of the store, but if we started in the morning with the sweets we would leave from this trip a few kilos heavier! 🤗
The cafeteria also has a second floor with a fantastic view of the square and the church. The church is dedicated to Saint Tryphon, patron saint of Vytina and protector of the vine growers. As we have read, the present temple was built in 1846 on the site of a temple burnt down by Ibrahim with donations from the Vytinians and other donors and with a great contribution of King Otto. The basic material with which it was made is black marble, a special product of the region.
Inside the church is kept the miraculous icon of Saint Tryphon, which according to tradition was transported from Asia Minor during a plague epidemic. Saint Tryphon, as we have learned, healed by the grace of the Holy Spirit from every disease and especially from demons. The people of Vytina revere him a lot and every year when he celebrates on the 1st of February they gather in the village and celebrate his memory.
Our day had started wonderfully and while it was sunny we wanted to take walks in the alleys of the village and take our photos to remember and share them with you!
Around the main square there are many shops selling souvenirs and local products. Vytina is famous for its handmade pasta, noodles, lasagna, trachana and many more, nuts, herbs, Elatis Mainalou Vytina honey, a unique product, but also for wood carvings and textiles – the area was a center of woodcarving and weaving, as we have learned.
On our walk we also passed the Primary School of Vytina, a beautiful building that is a benefit of Andreas Syggros. As we saw from its website, it is an active and modern school that organizes many activities, experiments, events, teleconferences and online activities.
We could not, of course, miss visiting the Folklore Museum of the village. It is located in Vytina square, in a stone one-storey building. As we learned, it was founded in 1986 and operates under the auspices of the Cultural Association of Vytina. It has been housed in the building we visited since 2000, which is a concession of the then mayor and continues to operate with the help of the current mayor. It now works every Saturday and Sunday and fortunately we found it open!
Its exhibition spans an open space, full of hundreds of exhibits that you can see up close, as you walk through them. It consists of two sections, one with useful objects of the daily life of the people of Vytina and one with historical relics. We were lucky and got a tour of the exhibition, during which the very kind manager of the museum explained in detail the operation of various objects in the exhibition. It was a really interesting and rich tour!
The museum’s exhibits come mainly from the private collections of its two founders, a local teacher-writer-folklorist and a barber-correspondent for the local newspaper. The objects of the exhibition are divided into sections and consist of agricultural tools, household utensils, old machines, church items, textiles, embroidery, clothing, furniture and much more. We were also impressed by a complete loom set up at the back of the room.
In the historical part of the exhibition stands out an important historical artifact, the Testament of Theodoros Kolokotronis, written by the notary Charalambos Papadopoulos in 1841 on the estate of Kolokotronis near Nafplio!
After this fantastic time travel we wanted to take another walk around the village this time in its rich nature… It is winter and it is so beautiful, imagine what the other seasons of the year will be like! Walking we reached one of the sights of Vytina, the Road of Love, a unique route between plane trees and maples. According to what we read, its name is due to the fact that young people used to go for a walk there and couples in love would meet to exchange only looks and conversations, according to the customs of the time. But even today it is a very romantic landscape for couples to walk hand in hand!
Then, our road took us to the Forest of Vytina, a wonderful place! It is a forest-botanical garden, with an area of 37 acres, according to the information sign at its entrance. It is part of the Triantafyllidi State Estate and a monument of the natural history of the place.
The first part of the park was planted from 1900 to 1916 and the planting was completed in 1933. It includes various foreign species, which were produced in nurseries of Vytina or transported in the years 1910-1916 by an Austrian mission. Among others, one can see up to sixteen species of pine in the forest, for example; the forest is the ideal destination for any naturalist!
Returning to the village we saw the Public Library of Vytina. It is one of the oldest libraries in our country – founded in the early 19th century by the Vytinian monk Anthimos Paparrigopoulos – and the most important spiritual institution of the village. According to its website, it aims to provide knowledge and highlight the spiritual activity of the area, along with the preservation of the history and cultural heritage of the place. It is housed in a restored traditional building since 1987, which as we see from an inscription housed the School of Girls of Vytina.
After all the good things we saw, it was time for one of our favorite things on the excursions – the local, traditional food! As time passed, the streets of Vytina did not stop being full of people, despite the cold that had begun to get worse. With them we walked the streets, in the direction of the restaurant Klimataria.
Klimataria is a traditional tavern of Vytina, which has been operating since 1936, when Mr. Demosthenes and his wife built a small tavern. There they served the locals traditional Arcadian recipes made with passion and love. Son Christos and his wife Katerina, with the same love and care, gave their own character to the menu of Klimataria, adding a modern look to the tradition. Today they have managed to make their restaurant one of the best in the village!
The menu of Klimataria includes fresh salads, delicious appetizers, home-cooked stews and awesome grilled meats. We chose to try their stews mainly, as they matched the cold evening, but also their appetizers and grills; we accompanied them with local white wine and good company! Come and see how nicely we ate…
After we were full of the delicious, homemade food and the warm, friendly atmosphere, we passed by the car for a while, since we had hidden the surprise of the day in the trunk – a cake made by Eliza with love for her mother-in-law! The cake had two layers, one with juicy chocolate cake and one with cream cheese flavored with orange. We will give the recipe in a following article!
To close the day we wanted to visit another local business, to eat a sweet, since we kept the cake for home. We chose the cafe bar Ear, at the top of the village square. The shop was beautiful, with stone inside, elegant decoration and a fireplace in the center of the space that gave warmth to the atmosphere. For coffee, snacks, sweets, drinks or cocktails, Ear is a very good choice!
And so, sweetly, the night came and it was time to return to our base in Athens. We had a wonderful time, and we suggest you make a small -or even bigger- excursion in the picturesque Vytina! See you soon!
Read first each of our new articles!
Find us on our social media:
- Instagram: @eatdessertfirstgreece
- Facebook profile: Giorgos Eliza Vlachakis
- Facebook page: eatdessertfirstgreece
- Twitter: @eatdessert1stGr
- Pinterest: eatdessert1stGr
- WordPress: Eat Dessert First Greece
- LinkedIn: Eliza Neofytou
Follow us by filling in your email in the field at the bottom of our website, so that every new article we receive will be emailed to you as soon as it is released. Do not forget to confirm your registration in the email that will come to you! 🤗 Those of you who are also wordpress bloggers, just click follow.