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La Toile

The prefecture of Thesprotia is one of Greece's still unspoiled small treasures. Situated on the mainland, southeast of Italy and opposite the famous island of Corfu, is beginning to be discovered by foreign investors and visitors. Its picturesque shorelines are bathed in the clear waters of the Ionian Sea, and gurgling mountainous springs and unpolluted rivers irrigate the surrounding countryside. The legendary rivers Kalamas (Thiames) and Acheron, lined with reed and plane trees, flow through wild desolate mountains and ancient ruins. In antiquity, Acheron emerged from a wild ravine and through a sinister gorge, to spread out and form an inaccessible lagoon, the marshy Lake Acheroussia, which the souls of the Dead had to traverse in order to reach the infernal Kingdom of Hades. The unspoiled country side of cool and shady wooded hillsides; glittering rocky mountains with inaccessible peaks; forests of chestnuts, planes and conifer trees; picturesque, easy to reach villages; valleys of luxuriant vegetation and flora; well known bird sanctuaries; and olive groves and vineyards, all these comprise the sweet and mysterious face of this region.

The population of the prefecture of Thesprotia according to the 1999 census is about 45.500 inhabitants, showing an increase in population over the past years, with the following distribution:

Urban: 18.000 inhabitants
Rulal: 27.500 inhabitants

Thesprotia is a region steeped in history and the culture that has evolved here through the centuries has a unique flavor of its own. Though undoubtedly an integral part of the wider Greek cultural scene, historical events have caused Thesprotia to acquire a certain idiosyncrasy, a specific kind of territoriality that is peculiarly its own. Until recently, the Thesprotian way of life had preserved its traditional characteristics, exhibiting a preference for the small scale, for communal cohesiveness, age-old social organization, and frugality as a strategic response to scarcity of resources. The component parts of traditional Thesprotian culture deserve to become widely known not only in order that they may act as a reminder of the region's past but also to trigger a new way of viewing man, his natural environment and his cultural life.

Igoumenitsa is the main port linking Europe with Turkey and the Middle East via the Egnatia Highway, the Adriatic and Ionian Sea. The Prefecture of Thesprotia due to its strategic geographical position at the tip of the European Union, its common borders with Albania and its vicinity to the Balkan countries, is the ideal choice for tourism and new business investments.

The revival of the historic Via Egnatia Highway, beginning at the Port of Igoumenitsa with its Venetian fortress, which in the Roman period united East and West, has come to the fore frond once again today to confirm its historic role, with a project of immense national importance for Greece and Europe. With the materialization of the new Egnatia Highway, Greece may have the greatest opportunity ever for economic penetration of the Balkans. The construction of the Via Egnatia, in conjunction with improvements of the existing vertical axes, Ioannina - Tirana, Skopje - Thessalonica and Plovdiv - Alexandroupolis, will set out the framework for turning Northern Greece into a center for transit trade between the Central and Eastern Balkans and the European Union on the one hand and the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean on the other.

An essential and supplementary project for the better operation and exploitation of the Via Egnatia as a transit route to and from the EU is the construction of the commercial and tourist port of Igoumenitsa. Currently over seventy liners and cargo ships arrive daily in the Port transporting thousands of passengers and cargo vehicles (over 12.000 passengers/24hours). The project, beyond its wider regional role through time, will play an important role in the reorganization and improvement in the existing European traffic flow pattern with anticipated economic benefits for those who will invest in the area.

The prefecture of Thesprotia, Greek soil since the ancient times, is a hospitable, hard working, proud region always full of drive and life. Homer's hero Odyssey on his return to Ithaca visited this region. Even from the prehistoric years Thesprotia, live and exuberant, having followed through the centuries its archaic, Byzantine and today the modern Greek path, is scattered with overwhelming historic treasures such as ancient fortresses, sacred sanctuaries, numerous Byzantine churches and monasteries, still to be excavated and studied. Once you are here, depends entirely on you to combine seaside activities on breathtaking seasides with excursions to the backdrop of the majestic mountains, the brawling rivers, the ancient ruins, sanctuaries and impressive gorges.

Very seldom you can discover so much in such a small county. The attractive seasides and their villages of Perthika, Arilla, Karavostasi, the dominating Sivota with its islets, Plataria, Drepano and Makrigiali allow you to gain access to the inland places of interest, there are a number of paths to follow. Going towards the north, will take you to the old town of Filiates, the traditionally preserved villages of Plaisio and Finikie, the sacred monastery of Gyromeri (13th century), the impressive villages of mount Mourgana, the banks of river Kalamas and its majestic Gorge, the conifer forest of Lambanitsa the ancient Acropolis of Doliani and the ancient theater of Gitani. The central part of the region is the heroic Souli the indomitable Souliot Country, where the 15C Christians took refuge from the Turks on a plateau 2.000 ft up in the Acheron Gorge and protected by the inaceccibility of their mountain fortresses their autonomy. On the same path is situated the village of Garthiki where you will find the ruins of the ancient town and castle of Veliani and the historic city of Paramythia where the regional cathedral of the Orthodox church is situated. Follow the footprints of Egnatia highway towards the gorgeous Margariti and its sanctuaries. On this trail you will find the mythological Cave of Stigga. That's where in antiquity goddess Thetis gave invulnerability to her impetuous son Achilles by dipping him in the immortal waters of the cave holding him by his heel. At the siege of Troy, he was shot in the heel by Paris and died. On this trail, at the slopes of the coastline, through forests of pine trees, olive groves and citrus fruits you will arrive at the particularly attractive and charming site, the world famous resort and sheltered anchorage of Parga.

La Toile
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La Toile