Naoussa is a treasure box of history and culture going back to antiquity -no wonder its longstanding wine roots. At the same time, it is an ark of biodiversity thanks to its unique morphology and topography embodying all forms of surface water -lakes, ponds, streams, waterfalls- and mountains.
Our KIR-YIANNI team has gathered useful hints and tips on what to do when visiting Naoussa.
Naoussa lies on the eastern hills of Mount Vermion range, at an altitude of 300 meters, on the Western-central Macedonia in Northern Greece. The river Arapitsa, which springs a little higher, supplies water to the city and crosses it, while the mountain offers oxygen, and wood, over the fertile plain of Imathia that produces its famous peaches, cherries and vines. The 90 km distance from Thessaloniki attracts visitors even for day trips from the capital of Macedonia.
INDICATIVE ACTIVITIES AND SITES
The mountainous topography of the area offers skiing opportunities to the enthusiasts of the sport including the resorts of Tria Pente Pigadia and Seli. It is a place of excursions in the nature, with Agios Nikolaos Park standing out as one of the most beautiful environmental parks of Greece, only 2km from the center of Naoussa.
Following those green trails and you will walk into Aristotle’s School where the famous philosopher was teaching the young Alexander the Great. Last but certainly not least, a visit to the Vergina Archaeological site of Aigai, where the royal tombs of Alexander’s father, Philip II, and family had been discovered in the 1970s. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with the Polycentric Museum of Aigai that opened its doors recently, offers an insuperable experience.
THE FAMOUS NAOUSSA CARNIVAL
With roots to both ancient antiquity and the most recent history of the struggle against Ottoman rule, the carnival of Naoussa is like no other in Greece, attracting visitors from all over the country and abroad. Due to the huge interest, one has to book hotel and transportation much in advance. The highlight of the carnival is the unique custom of “Genitsaroi and Boules” with young men in traditional customs following a long-standing ritual parading and dancing in the streets of the city. Definitely a must-experience.
THE LOCAL CUISINE
In Naoussa we have our own version of “cucina povera” with the locals growing their own vegetables, being proactive in view of harsh snowy winters, and adapting a no-waste philosophy. “Mantza” is a traditional local dish of mixed vegetables -peppers, eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes, and zucchinis, pan-fried in olive oil. Local cooks take pride in their many homemade pies with fillings like leek and minced meat, the local savory “batzos” hard cheese, wild greens, nettles. Look also for “keftedes me armi” (meatballs with brine), “sarmades” (minced meat stuffed in Xinomavro vine leaves), “fasoulondavas” (a delicious dish based on giant beans), and “gavopsara” (a famous appetizer with eggplant).
Restaurants with local cuisine to visit in Naoussa: OINOMAGEIREMATA, THOMADES, SPONDI, PARADOSIAKO. Do visit HARAMA as well, at the nearby village of ARKOHORI.
Naoussa is known as the “city of wine” being the heartland of Xinomavro. This red native variety is the definition of uniqueness and terroir-sensitivity. Indeed, it thrives in Naoussa thanks to the mixture of elements -soil, climate, topography; even more so, it finds here the opportunity to reveal all its glory imprinting the singular sub-terroirs of the region in the hands of an inspiring group of 20+ producers of distinctive styles and winemaking philosophies.
At Kir-Yianni we work with Xinomavro for over 50 years now, while our winemaker, Stellios Boutaris, is the 5th generation of one of the most iconic Greek wine families that had triggered the rejuvenation of Naoussa safeguarding a special bond with Xinomavro going back to the 19th century.
As said, in Naoussa there are 21 producers from very small to medium range. Open cellar doors and organized wine tastings are offered at almost a dozen of them. Nevertheless, everybody knows everybody in Naoussa, so your hotel may arrange a visit to the producer of your choice. Α great idea could be to plan an early December trip to Naoussa, do your skiing and attend the local “Naoussa, The City of Wine” fair that takes place with the participation of all local producers -something rare to find even at the major Greek wine exhibition in Athens.
Our goal at Kir-Yianni is to build a vibrant hub around wine in Naoussa where everyone can find its own “space” of being in the moment, of learning, of connecting with nature, of sharing, of enjoying. We do offer winery tours and wine tastings all year round, spiced up with monthly thematic events and concepts. But at the same time, our restless and open-hearted people make every moment count. They keep bringing in new ideas like yoga classes, photography lessons, e-biking, and lately horse-riding lessons and picnics in the heart of our vineyard, even summer outdoor cinema just a stone’s throw away from our Xinomavro vines.
Xinomavro, as Assyrtiko and most Greek wines do, loves food. So, we run a restaurant aimed at blending the local gastronomic traditions and products with an elevated yet relaxed, organic experience. The awarded Chef Kiriaki Fotopoulou does exactly that: she balances her culinary finesse with a mindful, minimum-waste philosophy. We grow our own vegetables and respect fresh products’ seasonality. Every flavor is there to complement our wines, the stars of the Kir-Yianni world.
WHERE TO STAY NEARBY OUR WINERY
“Palea Poli”, a 19th century silk factory in the historic district of Naoussa that has been renovated into a boutique hotel, is certainly a great recommendation. Spectacular mountain views and homey comfort are generously offered at “Hotel Esperides” and “Villa Anthemia”. All three hotels operate all year round. Of course, there are many more choices, some of them seasonal.
OTHER USEFUL TIPS
Naoussa is an inviting, hospitable city. Most locals speak English, so if you have any question or need assistance in any way just ask! Street signs, as well as signs indicating the way to wineries, may not be as efficient, so using your mobile GPS app is recommended. Most credit cards are accepted in hotels, restaurants and shops.
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