Cyprus combines history and nature, sea and mountains, gastronomy and conviviality.
There is an island located in the Eastern Mediterranean that has unique climatic and landscape characteristics.
An island that hosted us for eight days and that allowed us to discover some hidden sides, as well as a profound history that has gone through the development of human civilization. This land is Cyprus, which has a total population of 875.000 inhabitants and which stretches for 240 kilometers in length from East to West. We landed at the international airport of Larnaka, a city of Mycenaean origins, and then began a tour between the central areas of the country and the west coast. During our travel experience, we stayed at several local farmhouses, tasting local gastronomic specialties and sipping the wines that make Cypriot grape varieties famous. The indigenous production of pleasantly tannic drinks is favoured by the ideal climate that warms the countryside: in Cyprus, in fact, temperatures remain high throughout the year and the strong exposure to the sun guarantees a luxuriant growth of the necessary grapes. During our travels we were also surprised by the massive presence of pomegranate plants, whose fruits are consumed in various ways and which with their acidulous pulp guarantee an intense taste to the lucky tasters. We tried juices and liqueurs made with these.
The availability and conviviality of local producers and the people we met filled us with humanity, it is one of the reasons that fuel our enthusiasm for these projects. According to our vision, we believe that continuing to invest in the network of holiday farms on the island may be the right strategy to give value to the strong tourist potential that we have found. Bed & breakfasts, small 0 km production centers, boutiques, are places that help to preserve a form of sustainable tourism that can and will continue to give a big boost to the entire human and natural Cypriot ecosystem.
An environment that finds a considerable strength in variety.
In fact, from the sea we moved towards the Troodos Mountains, which are located in the south-west area and which allow trekking lovers to engage at pleasant excursions immersed in nature. One of the peculiarities are the rocks, on which good level trail networks develop. The tracks are kept in good condition and the signs allow you to enjoy the walks, thus enjoying the views at high altitude, which in good weather stretch to the capital Nicosia and beyond. Precisely as regards the walking routes, we have had the opportunity to cover some of them. The “Theisia tis Madaris” is probably the one that has most impressed us: it can be tackled in the day and offers a circular course (there are two main variants, one short and another longer).
The interesting aspect is that in January, for the lucky ones, it is theoretically possible during the same day to pass from almost 2000 meters of the internal mountains – which tend to be covered with snow on the tops and on which you can ski – to the coast of Paphos, which with a fairly temperate water makes it possible to enjoy a swim in the sea despite the winter season. An undoubtedly particular experience. In our walks around the island we could notice the vegetation, which for some places we were unable to recognize. One of the reasons was to be found in the British colonial period, during which the british chose to plant various non native trees on the Cypriot territory, so as to have shaded areas that could protect them from summer temperatures.
We also believe that one of the main advantages of Cyprus , an extremely strong point of strength, is its ancient history.
The cultural, artistic and architectural heritage is of absolute value. During our eight days we had the opportunity to experience first-hand the importance of preserving these places. On the island territory, you can visit several sites recognized for their historical importance. Among the most interesting, we must certainly mention the Kykkos Monastery, where Christian Orthodox worship is celebrated and which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Its foundation date back to shortly after the year 1000 and it is today one of the best known buildings in the country. The structure gives solidity to the rooms and the internal courtyard has all the air of belonging to the medieval era. One of the peculiarities are the paintings that decorate the ceilings and walls of the monastery: the colourful scenes and the attention to detail deserve your attention, if you want to immerse yourself in the religious iconography of Kykkos.
To stay on this trend
we also propose a stop at the Byzantine church of Agios Ioannis Lampadistis (UNESCO site). It is located near the village of Kalopanagiotis, in the Troodos mountains. It contains numerous frescoes that can catch the eye for a few minutes.
Paphos mosaics are also a must as regards the historical and cultural aspect of this itinerary. We were able to observe them inside the Unesco Archeological Park at the end of the journey, after moving along the south-western Cypriot coast.
The Greek and Roman ancestry of the archeological remains that can be enjoyed in this area of the island blend the Mediterranean beauty with the mysticism of the myths and legends that populate the area.
It is here that we saw the tombs of the kings, considered a World Heritage Site (together with the archeological park and Nea Pafos and Kouklia) .They mostly date back to the 4th century BC. and carved in the rock.
It has been handed down over the centuries that Aphrodite was born right on the beaches of Paphos, lapped by the salty sea and sun-warmed sand [at Petra tou Romiou, which offers brightly colored water]. In Kurion, on the other hand, within the relative archaeological site, you can appreciate a majestic Roman amphitheatre. This could accommodate up to 3500 spectators and which still serves today as a stage for various performances and concerts.
However, in Cyprus there are not only testimonies of the most ancient times
but also buildings dating back to more recent historical periods, according to a truly surprising process of stratification of the eras
For example, we were able to admire three bridges built by the Venetians, who for some centuries, from 1489 until 1571, maintained an influence and a certain control on the island, also making a fairly multi-ethnic society proliferate. One of these is the Tzelefos Bridge. It develops inside a forest and crosses a fresh water course.
And we were able to enjoy the water by admiring some natural waterfalls, surrounded by a particular nature. We report the Millomeri Waterfall. It is a drop of about fifteen meters that is generated along the course of the Krios river, in the midst of cypresses and other luxuriant trees. It is interesting to see how the rocks have been carved and shaped by the force of the current. This constant flow is regenerated especially with the winter rains.
We conclude our story with a typical animal: the Cyprus mouflon (ovis gmelini ophion), which mainly inhabits the area of the Troodos mountains. It is a rather rare and endangered animal species. At the end of the 1990s could count just over a thousand specimens on the Cypriot territory. It is classifiable among the wild sheep. The sickle horns are easy to spot and have represented a fairly in demand hunting trophy in the past. They can weigh up to 90 kg and feed on grass.
The climate maintains pleasantly temperate temperatures even in the autumn and winter months
We advise you to bring the shoes suitable for trekking in case you want to try your hand at walking in the Troodos mountains
For sleeping, the island has numerous reception facilities. In our opinion, to better enjoy the atmosphere, we recommend staying overnight in farmhouses and B&b that can be found inland and on the coast.
We advise you to taste the local pomegranate and all its derivatives (juices, liqueurs, wines…).
Shushukkos is a typical Cypriot dessert: it is a product that is made in a completely natural way on the island. It is based on grapes, does not include the addition of sugars and inside you can find walnuts or almonds.