On a mountain slope in Tsangarada, there stands a guesthouse almost hidden by trees.
By JACOLINE VINKE*
Marianna and Filaretos Psimenos are still in love with Pelion, 25 years after they rolled out their sleeping bags on one of its beaches.For a long time, they could not stop dreaming about what it would be like to have a house in Pelion for weekends and holidays.When they finally bought an old house on a mountainside in Tsangarada, they became the proud owners of a stand of trees of varying types, all providing them with the most succulent of fruit.But the house they had just bought was in ruins.
There were just a few weathered walls in such terrible shape that it was impossible to say what it had looked like in its original form. The couple could have taken the easier way out and built a new structure in its place. Instead, they started searching for photographs of mountainous Tsangarada, hoping to find one showing their home in its more glorious days. After a lengthy search, they found what they'd been looking for at a collector's in Volos. Based on their find, they rebuilt the house according to its original appearance. When construction was complete, the house was much larger than they needed for themselves, and so they decided to convert it to a guesthouse. They worked hard to make it attractive.
They created five rooms (two of these are suites) inside the house itself, and a small apartment with a bedroom, kitchen and all the conveniences in an outbuilding. Nothing has been overly decorated; the wooden floors, walls painted in pastel colours and beautiful antique furniture all create a warm and appealing atmosphere. I arrived at the Amanita Guesthouse on an unusually windy, cold and rainy night. I was thrilled to find the fireplace burning and Filaretos offering me a cup of tea. My eyes were immediately drawn to a basket of freshly picked mushrooms and a stack of books on the subject. Filaretos is passionate about wild mushrooms and all through the season (mid-September to mid-November and in June), he leads visitors on weekend hikes through the forest in search of mushrooms. He knows exactly which of them are edible and then generously offers them as an appetiser in the evening. I didn't feel too badly that I had missed an opportunity to try them by one day – I'm a little wary of wild mushrooms. But I extremely enjoyed breakfast the next morning, as it featured a variety of local products. Slices of dark home-baked bread, wonderful marmalades made from fruit collected in the garden, local honey, homemade cheese pies and freshly cut pears that were so juicy they made up for the lack of freshly squeezed orange juice. I rounded out my stay with a walk in the woods and filled my pockets with chestnuts and walnuts.
Jacoline Vinke is the author of Great Small Hotels in Greece and Around Greece in 80 Stays.Her website www.smallhotelsingreece.com highlights small and attractive hotels throughout Greece.