I stayed at Artsista Art Homes in the village of Aristi (one of the Zagorohoria) for a few days with my husband and children, a short holiday to celebrate protochronia, New Year’s Eve. It was a much-needed break for us. We wanted a place where we would find comfort, privacy and quiet, as well as fresh air. Artsista Art Homes turned out to be the ideal choice. It is a collection of gorgeous self-catering stone cottages, all fitted with stylish and comfortable furniture, a well-equipped kitchen and an excellent bathroom. They exude warmth and homeliness: earthy colours, beamed ceilings, wooden floors and working fireplaces with ample supplies of wood to burn. For sunny days, there are nice terraces with great views over the mountains. Our cottage was an open-plan maisonette, including a mezzanine with single beds and a double bed on the lower level, as well as ample sitting space. Walks during the day and evenings by the fire, reading books, chatting, playing games and watching movies, it was absolutely perfect. Owners Liana and Pandelis Zacharakis are a lovely young couple who also run the very tastefully decorated restaurant in the village square below the cottages.
The style and comfort of the interiors and the extraordinary care for detail. ("We could live here” was how we all felt.) And the friendliness of Pandelis and Liana...
Artsista Art Homes would be absolutely perfect if there were real gardens to sit out.
1 double room
2 suites for 2 persons
3 studios for 2 persons (one with a sunk bath)
4 houses for up to 4 persons
Prices for two persons from 90 Euro per night, breakfast and taxes included. For a full overview of room rates (including for half-board), please contact Liana.
En-suite bathroom (shower)
Television with DVD player
Fireplace with firewood supplied (except in the double room)
Kitchen (except in the double room and the two studios)
Facilities to make coffee and tea (in the double room and the studios)
Artsistas has its own (very tastefully decorated) restaurant, and whatever time of the day you’re hungry, you can get a wholesome, home cooked meal. Breakfast, normally served from 8 to 11.30 am, is brought to the table (or to your suite or house) and includes fresh bread, local pies, eggs, a selection of cold meats and cheeses, fruits and fresh orange juice. For lunch and dinner, the menu features a good choice of traditional Greek dishes, which you can either take in the restaurant or, if you are just too comfortable in your little ‘home’ to move at all, you can also ask for room service. There are lots of good traditional Greek restaurants in the villages nearby when you want a change. And of course, you can also use your kitchen to cook a few meals yourself (best to stock up on groceries before coming up the mountain).
The houses are really comfortable for families, so yes, by all means, do what we did, come with your children. They both loved our holidays at Artsista. The houses have two two single beds for children, and an extra crib/cot can be provided on request for babies. Keep in mind though that most houses are on two levels and have stairs that are not very safe. If you come with toddlers, you’ll really have to watch it.
The Zagorohoria in general are a great destination for active family vacations. Your children (as long as they are not too young) will enjoy walking through the gorge, swimming in the rock pools in the mountains, exploring the villages and rafting in the Voidomatis River. You can take them horseback riding in Papigo, and there are also possibilities for mountain biking (starting in the village of Elati).
You are in a great spot if you want to explore the Zagorohoria. Papigo is only 20 minutes by car, and you should count the same time to drive to Ano Pedina. Add another twenty and you have reached villages like Dilofo, Kipi and Kapesovo. From Mikro Papigo you can walk to rock pools where in the summer you can actually swim.
Walking and Hiking
Follow the old cobbled mule tracks and paths to explore villages, churches, rivers and mountain streams, gorges and the arched stone bridges the Zagorohoria are famous for. Get a guide to hike to the Drakolimni mountain lakes or to take you on a day trek through the Vikos Gorge.
All you need to do is ask. There’s rafting, kayaking or canoeing on the Voidamatos River, rock climbing, horseback riding, and mountain biking, and Liana or Pandelis will be happy to make bookings for you.
Artsista is situated just above the square of Aristi, one of the most centrally located Zagorohoria (the mountain villages of Zagori). The village is charming (but then which of the Zagorohoria isn’t?) and an excellent starting point for exploring the entire Zagori area.
From Ioannina, follow signs for the airport from where you take the road towards Konitsa. About 40 km after Ioannina, turn right in the direction of Aristi and Papigo. As you enter Aristi and get to the village square, you will see the restaurant of Liana and Pandelis on your left. Artsista Art Homes do not have a reception as such, but you will be welcomed at the restaurant and accompanied to your house.
I want to mention how wonderful and perfect our stay in Aristi at Liana’s and Panthelis’ Artsista Houses was. We were just happy. The region is absolutely gorgeous , we “fell in love” with Zagori and adorable Liana. We were also very impressed by Panthelis’ achievement: the tasteful Artsista Houses. Our delicious stay there was perfect too. No need for more words!
Valerie and Tassilo H.T.