Kyparissi is the kind of holiday place that if you know about it, you only tell your closest friends because you are afraid of spoiling it. But really it would be a hard place to spoil just because of the difficulties in getting here. Even though it has been written up in many Greek magazines, and featured in the book The Most Beautiful Villages of Greece, and is the favorite destination of George H Bush, Prince Charles and may have been the last place Princess Diana visited before her ill-fated trip to Paris, getting to Kyparissi is a formidable task to anyone who does not have access to a high-powered yacht with a helicopter.
Kyparissi, was an ancient sanctuary of Asclepius and used to be known as Kyfanta. At some point in its history the people of this lush valley of olive trees, pine, and carob left the coast and moved to a highpoint where the village was hidden from the sea and the pirates who raided the coast. This did not help them when some very determined pirates climbed the mountain and slaughtered most of the villagers and threw their bodies in a well. Many of the survivors went to Sfakia, Crete which was one of the few unconquerable places left in Greece. The people who inhabit the region now are the descendants of those who stayed and the Mavromichalis clan. Kyparissi is actually three villages. Vrissi is the first village you come to, the highest of the three on the slopes of the mountain range that surrounds the valley. It is rich in water with a spring running through the town. Everyone has beautiful gardens, orchards, and olive trees. There is a small cafeneon in a tiny platia that has been turned into a restaurant with very good food and a nice atmosphere. There are few shops, no hotels and if you arrive between 2 and 6 pm you might not see a single person on the narrow streets.
There are a couple of restaurants, both quite good with excellent local wine and the world’s largest and tastiest olives. Here you can enjoy some of the best food you will find in Laconia including what may be the best omelets in Greece. For those who have not been impressed with the breakfast buffets served at most hotels in Athens and the popular islands, finding a restaurant where a guy will make an omelet with anything you ask him to put in, is not only refreshing but may save you money because you will probably be able to skip lunch.
There is a minimarket (pandopoleon) which means a store that sells everything, including a delicious organic wine. On the far side of Parilea is an actual supermarket, not on the scale of one you might find at home but by Kyparissi standards certainly super enough. There is a small beach to the right of the dock and a larger one to the left of town that stretches perhaps a quarter of a mile and separates Parilea from the third of the three villages, called Metropolis.
Fresh fish, homegrown vegetables, and local meats, cheese, and wine have made Tiris a favorite not just with the locals and the Athenians who visit but also for the yacht and sailboat people who stop here overnight in the summer months. If you have to choose one restaurant to eat at I recommend this one, though chances are if you are in Kyparissi it will be for more than a night and you can try the others too. If you don’t have a car it will take about half an hour to walk there, but there is a beautiful beach right below the restaurant so you can come for lunch and make a day of it or come early for dinner and go for a swim. When the sea is rough this is the best place to swim and when the sea is not rough it is the best place to get away from the few people who are on the beaches in town.
Serious art collectors are in luck because Kyparissi is home to the British artist James Foot, one of the finest watercolor painters in Greece and if you ask for him you should be able to buy some original pieces which should gain in value if not bring a little bit of Kyparissi home to decorate your living room.
Longitude: 22.99340 – Latitude: 36.97155