» ODE TO NATURE «
TEXT AND PHOTO VASSILIS LAPPAS
The greatness of Erirotic countryside, with the unexpected changes, the impressive range of colors, the tops of the mountains getting lost within the clouds, flowers blooming through the stones, crystal waters running through the innumerable sources, the games of the sun through the calm waters of a lake, the wonderful architecture of houses and ecclesiastical monuments, these are a few things that will enchant the visitor of the beautiful villages of Ioannina.
The writing is difficult, and is not suitable for rough interpretations. In order to feel you need to climb on the mountain tops and let the eye to be lost, you have to dive into the depths of history and retrieve the countless treasures, to walk along the deserted streets of the villages accompanied with the memories of the people, to grab the pulse of an era lost without hope of coming back. Hike and climb steep slopes of the untouched nature, rare treat nowadays. Vikos has many secrets and only people who became on with him know them. The spectacle is of course creator of emotions in this course of centuries.
To these beautiful villages and surrounding areas, where as a little boy made my first steps in photography and devoting unlimited time in all these endless walks I was thinking that I’m the only one who knows these villages so well, whenever my steps lead me to wonder through the shaded forests and the Viko’s gorge, I always discover something new, something unique.
I lived close all he season changes. I saw the villages dressed in white, I breathed the smell f the first rain of autumn, I watched the leaves falling and marking a life lost preparing a new one, I saw bare trees to dress up and the soil turning green, buds blooming and the swallows building their nests again on the terraces of the ruined houses. I heard the secret calls of the land that kept the people chained and united with her in early times. From the few old men I heard the stories of what they lived and saw, staying loyal to what we did not deign to even listen.
In my endless walks, I met and loved Zagorochoria, hurt watching our indifference to the landscape, the trespassing and the destruction of the religious monuments, the distortion of national history and culture. Our wealth in beauty… I felt the need they have to have all of us near them, so that we can preserve and protect our living national wealth that lasted with sacrifices in this place for centuries.
I can not forget the endless hours on the edge of the swamp just outside the village Kouklie, waiting to see the beginning of a new day, with the firs trays of the sun to emerge in all their glory, behind the branches of the trees, through the morning mist, listening to the joyful good morning of the birds and the breeze ripping the reed soft the marsh, enjoying the rich colors and the games of the sun through the calm waters, the peace of mind that we so much need and can not find it here in the big cities of cement and exhaust gas.
The awe you feel watching the bridge of heaven with the rapid waters and the towering trees, through time and space, that when you look from below, you feel their greatness and effort to touch with their branches the sun.
The old Mavronos, a majestic presence on top of the mountain, abandoned by its inhabitants in the beginning of our century, looks imposingly from above the fate of the other villages. It was spring when my steps led me for the first time near it and all you see through the deathly silence that hovers above the village, is little flowers blooming on the doors and windows of the castled houses from the decay time. Two floor mansions, with their patios and fireplaces ready to accept us again near them, to talk to us for their history and culture. The wound is not closed, remains there to testify the chthonic functions in times lost in the depths of eternity. When you leave, the message remains deep within the heart and the fear for tomorrow grows stronger.
Drakomili composes in its turn the magic of this beautiful landscape. The magic of the unknown, it’s unfathomable depth, the myths which follow, all these compose the uniqueness of the virgin landscape. The climb is difficult and requires hours, the best month is August. Water is not needed for the ascent as the sources are so many. The shelter is open during most of the year.
The complex design of h landscape, in Viko’s gorge, betrays the true artist, the nature, that learned to shocking the walker and reward him for the love that shows her and if he is lucky, which is very difficult, he may see the fungus lung. A fungus unique in Greece, hidden in small caves, which in order to survive, needs environmental contamination to be zero, as in Viko’s gorge.
The Byzantine monuments are more. Churches and monasteries, abandoned to their fate and in time, with countless religious treasures.
The monastery of Stomio, built in 1412 in a platform f Gamila, in the ravine of Aoos.
The monastery of Spileotissa in Aristi, built in 1579, majestic, proud, built on the rocks, with many frescoes and relics.
The monastery Sosimou in Parakalamos with unknown date of built, and so many other religious monuments that testify the love and respect of our ancestors to religion.
Do ever say that seeing all these is the end. The surprises inn these beautiful villages are never ending. The breath of people hovers over the deserted villages to testify the memories that survive by the balm that nature sheds through the bowels of the rocks.
In these villages, evil has not yet large dimensions, the big blow is in our animals that tend to extinct from the local and foreign hunters without moderation and compassion.
The effect here lasts long, without noise and knows how to shocking the man who is most a creation of the place that lives…