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About 19 km from Tripoli, in the center of the Peloponnese, where the road ends, nestled in the steep slopes of Mount Mainalon, there is a magical place called Piana.

It is unlike any visions of Greece you might have. The first time I visited the green fir forests of this area, I was astounded. Like most of you, I always thought of Greece as white washed houses overlooking a sparkling perfect blue sea, and perhaps, a rocky arid place. Never in my wildest dreams had I thought that a place like the Rocky Mountains or the Black Forest existed in Greece.

And then there is Piana.

Where the road ends.

Where the myths begin.

This is the purported home of god Pan, the protector of shepherds and companion of the nymphs. One can hear his music through the flutes of the shepherds in the distance.

The beauty of the area is unequaled; as is the difficulty to eek out a living from these steep mountain sides, where only fir can exist, and the road ends… And thus the area has remained unexploited and unspoiled.

A few hundred people make their home here, surviving from raising livestock and harvesting walnuts, chestnuts and honey. No pesticides have ever reached this part of the world. There was never a reason to. In fact the land is steep and craggy with no agriculture anywhere to be seen, apart from a few sheep wandering freely up and down the mountainside. The only sounds you hear are those of songbirds and the breeze rustling through the fir trees mixed with the clanging of the bells of the sheep.

And although honey is harvested throughout Greece, it takes a special place to produce a special nectar, a perfect pearly mix of golden amber colored honey, deceivingly called “Vanilla Honey”. There is no vanilla added to it, but its name distinguishes it from all other Greek honey, an important factor since it is the only one recognized as a Product of Designated Origin (PDO) by the European Union for its authenticity and its uniqueness: Mount Mainalon “Vanilla” honey. The bees and the beekeepers are always busy moving from one steep slope to the next to harvest this renewable commodity, “Vanilla” honey never crystallizes as it is very low in glycemic content.

Fir honey is not harvested from flowers, the conventional way bees harvest nectar. Fir trees don’t have flowers. Instead, the bees “milk” a type of aphid that makes its home on the fir trees. The product of their labor is a very thick, creamy honey with a pearlescent effect that is the perfect complement for the thick Greek yogurt that is produced locally from sheep milk free ranging in this unspoiled part of Greece.

By Athensguide

How does a little girl from Skokie, Illinois find herself in historical Athens, leading curious explorers through the winding streets of Plaka, down "pezodromos" to hidden ouzeries for tempting mezedhes and homemade barrel wine? The journey began more than twenty years ago, and regardless of whether the wanderlust comes from the spiritual and culture DNA flowing through my veins, or the alignment of the stars on that cold mid-December day this Sagitterian came into the world, I never seem to tire of exploring my adopted homeland of Greece. Here you'll join me as I explore Athens: be it the back streets of Psirri and Gazi, or through the National Gardens and Zappeio where a family of turtles makes their home, or down wide, treelined Imittou Street in Pagrati, which pulses with Athenian life 24 hours a day. And while Athens has stolen my heart, the rest of Greece vies for my curiousity and wanderlust. My two guys (that'd be the Greek God, Vasilis and our Greek dog, Scruffy) and I can often be found settling in for a long weekend in some charming mountain village, or a quaint fishing port on a nearby island, or learning how Greek vitners are producing wines that rival some of Napa Valley's finests productions, or celebrating a panayeri in Epirus or sharing in the festivities as a family of Cretan sheepherders come together to sheer their 1500 sheep in the spring ... And if you happen to find yourself heading to Athens, consider finding yourself a real home for your stay. Living amongst the locals, be it for 3 nights or 3 weeks, will offer you the chance to experience true Athens, beyond the Acropolis. Choose from one of our 5 beautiful penthouse and historical homes, and who knows, I may be leading you down that winding "pezodromo" to our favorite hidden ouzerie!