The Peloponnese peninsula is blessed with two things, above all else: views of the Aegean Sea and cultural riches from throughout Greek history. Today I’m taking to the roads to gain a further appreciation of both, beginning from my splendid base camp, the hilltop Amanzoe resort. Driving northeast, I skirt the picturesque town of Kranidi—resisting the siren song of its many tavernas—before ascending into the mountains and passing through tiny Stavropodi, where the only evident means of sustenance are the ancient olive trees that dot the rocky landscape and the sheep and goats grazing among them. Descending again, I cut across the citrus orchard–laden plain between Drepano and Lefkakia, bearing west at Exostis toward my final destination: the seaport town of Nafplio (pictured).
The feeling of history is palpable in almost any Greek city, but particularly so here. Nafplio was said to be an embarkation point for soldiers who fought in the Trojan War, and it bears the marks of numerous conquerors, principally the Venetians, whose imposing Palamidi Fortress towers above the Argolic Gulf. From the old city center, I crane my neck to spy the 300-year-old fortress, which is guarded by cliffs so sheer a siege seems inconceivable. I climb the 999 steps—Greek freedom fighter Theódoros Kolokotrónis supposedly rode his horse up them to celebrate the city’s 1822 liberation, a legend that’s commemorated with a statue in the city center—and look down from the battlements. One thing is sure: This view, of red roofs below and blue sea beyond, is worth the fighting for.
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