In a gorgeous stone-built village where time stood still, this fully renovated classical 19th century mansion will captivate you with its authenticity, so will the owners’ warm hospitality. This is the real hidden Greece that most visitors don’t know exists.
Lying serenely in the village of Dikorfo, this charming guesthouse known as Kato Machalas boasts a handful of rooms and suites whose traditional style has been preserved, from the stone walls and wooden-beam ceilings to the fireplaces and earthy décor with a touch of yesteryear’s elegance. The mansion is set amid fabulous greenery (which turns snowy white in winter), with its rooms looking out to fabulous mountain landscapes, particularly Mount Mitsikeli.
Authentic local flavors
There are a few places in the world where small hotels serve vegetables at breakfast taken right from the garden, and this is one of them! You’ll be greeted with a hearty Mediterranean breakfast that has tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden, as well as local cheeses and eggs from the area’s free-range chickens. For lunch and dinner, the local village restaurant or ‘Taverna’, just a short walk away, serves that real authentic dishes that – like the hotel – has gotten excellent online reviews. In the afternoon, ask for the antioxidant ‘mountain tea’ made from local herbs that literally grow on the mountainside, best sweetened with a spoon of local honey.
Ideal for ecotourism
You’re going to love exploring around the village of Dikorfo. A 30-minute hike in nature will take you to the stone-built bridge of Stathi that crosses the stream of Kasimaina, and not far from there you’ll find an old watermill. In just 4.5 km or less than 3 miles you can reach Mount Mitsikeli (which means Bear’s Nest in a Slavic dialect) which peaks at 1,614 meters above sea level, offering jaw-dropping views of the whole region. Yet great views can be enjoyed just 2.5 km from Dikorfo and right above the village at the little church of Agios Ioannis (Saint John) which boasts stunning vistas of Central Zagori and its natural splendor.
If you’re into hiking, take the 12.5 km route from Dikorfo to Kipi which takes about 3.5 hours. Walk along the Dovris stream, go up towards Mitsikeli and at Agios Ioannis head down towards Ioannina. There are three stone bridges along the way, on a route that’s part of the national 03 hiking path that goes from Ioannina across the mountain to Mount Tymfi and Mount Smolikas. The whole area, by the way, is filled with fascinatingly historic stone bridges.
Other nearby and noteworthy activities include rafting in the crystal waters of the Voidomatis river, horseback riding in nature, a visit to the changing professional photo exhibition in the village of Mannasi, and of course a walk through the Vikos Gorge which is just half an hour by car from Dikorfo (this is the deepest gorge in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records). The waterfalls of Iliochori, and the long stone-built staircase of Vradeto carved in the mountainside are definite musts too.
Budding green philosophy
On the green front, this is a renovated mansion that has preserved the architectural glory of Epirus with its natural stone walls, tiled roofs, wooden ceilings and traditional shutters. Modern LED lighting, double-glazed windows, tap water from the mountains, a towel reuse program and a recycling bin reflect a good start in making the property more eco-friendly, and Ecotourism-Greece is in touch with the owners to continue building on the property’s modest steps in the green department.