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Olive oil, gold spoons and rose wine July 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Paphos.

Ideally a good day out should combine a reasonable feeding of the mind and spirit, a leisurely lunch and the chance throughout to rack up a few rolls of film (or a batch of evocative digital images). This particular trip combines all the above elements, at the same time throwing in a bit of special retail therapy for good measure.

The destination is the lovely village of Anogyra, a place just bursting with character as displayed in the proliferation of 300-year-old limestone houses, a 14th century well and monastery as well as an excellent winery. Then, just outside the village, there is the Olive Oil museum, which sells delicious organic olive oil along with a selection of olive oil products which make for original gifts.

The first indication visitors to the village have that this is a rather special place comes with the sight of the dramatic ruins of the Holy Cross Monastery, set just off the road amongst a field of carob and almond trees. With the site of the village dating back to the Neolithic period (8200-3900BC), archaeologists have recently been working on excavations in and around the area and the word is that, here in this sleepy village, artefacts of great historical importance could well be found. Mind you, there is also a tale told by the villagers about the original inhabitants of the monastery; the monks here were seemingly so rich they used to eat off silver plates using solid gold spoons. Apparently this stash of cutlery and pricey crockery is still waiting to be discovered after it was hidden in a specially-constructed underground tunnel for safe keeping.

Moving into the village, it is best to take the second turning to the left, signposted to the Nicolaidis winery. There you can park the car outside the winery, close to the Apikreni Well. This is a large, limestone structure which offers natural spring water for the weary traveller. But be careful as it is said that those who drink from the well will forever remain in the village, unless you fancy a life in a sleepy village that is.

The winery next door to the well probably makes the best rose wine on the island, along with a seriously good cabernet sauvignon and a quite delicious dessert wine. So, popping in there and buying all your special beverage requirements direct will be no hardship. Walking round the village is a must as the streets are extremely narrow; you get the chance to nose around folks’ back yards and peak through the garden gates to glimpse the many lush gardens that lie peacefully behind the high walls that surround many of the old houses.

A coffee taken in the large, paved plaza in the centre of the village is also a must. Although the pace of the village is exceedingly slow, there are still things to sit and watch, even if it’s only the old lady across the way washing down her front steps.

The village church of Archangel Michael is set in the centre of the village and boasts a unique wooden ‘women’s’ loft along with a rather impressive icon screen in front of the main altar. The entrance to the church would be of great interest to botanists as here we have two rather special trees that stand sentinel: the exceedingly rare examples of the Maclura Pomifera or orange hedge apple tree.

Then it’s back to the car and a six-minute drive out through the village to the Olive Oil museum. This small detour should be an absolute ‘must’ on your itinerary, even if its only to taste the tiny, but delicious, local sweet black olives served as a welcoming gesture by the owners, and which grow in (organic) abundance around the actual museum.

Then it’s the same drive back into the village and a spot of lunch at either Pollykka Gianni Tavern or the Anogyra Tavern. Afterwards you will return home carrying with you samples of the sweet Pasteli made from carob trees, along with several bottles of superior wine, and a month’s supply of the best olive oil made in the region.

Anogyra is about 35 to 40 mile easy drive from Paphos. Take the motorway and turn off after about 15 minutes when you see the road signed for Anogyra. Beside this sign and all along the route are clear signs to the Olive Oil museum so keep following them.

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