Aegina’s ancient olive grove


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The island of Aegina, a short boat trip from Piraeus, is large enough, at 83 square kilometers, to offer a variety of pleasant walks and hikes. 

One of the least strenuous options is a plateau with an impressive ancient olive grove in the southwestern part of the island, some 6 kilometers south of the main town. 

Take a taxi to Marathonas beach and ascend the dirt track that can be seen on the right-hand side of the ravine coming down from the hills. 

The track turns right after about 20 minutes and the plateau, interspersed with thick olive tree trunks, low bushes and generously covered with expanses of chamomile in springtime, extends on the left. 

The highest summit of the island (Koutala, 532 meters) is in the background. 

Follow a clockwise route and take a sharp left at 50 m after the sign “Katafygio Agrias Zois” (Wildlife Shelter). 

The track winds up to a large abandoned animal pen, behind a house with windows and doors painted light blue. 

Continue to the scenic Chapel of Aghia Triada, with a large covered medieval cistern. The track here turns south of the dried-up stream coming from the mountain. 

Look out for the occasional grouse flying out from the bushes, you’ll hear more drumming in the distance. 

The track narrows until it finally disappears but if you keep on straight alongside the mountain you’ll eventually reach the settlement of Sfentouri (1.5 km). 

A right turn into the center of the valley, which is marked by a cluster of rocks and ancient olive trees in gnarled shapes, will bring you to two animal pens on the far western side, from where you can descend to Moody Bay through the village of Aeginitissa. 

Scientific dating techniques have shown the largest tree trunk (13 m in diameter and a hollow nearly 2.5 m wide) to be about 500 years old. 

The grove, which even many locals are not aware of, is still tended by local farmers for home consumption. 

“The tree never dies unless it is uprooted completely,” says film director Nikos Alpantakis, who has shot an excellent documentary about the grove. 

Fortunately, a plan to build a biological treatment plant in the location a few years ago was shelved. 

Source: ekathimerini [April 15, 2011]



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