The village of Arachova, Greece, still retains much of its old-world charm, despite its popularity as a lunch and shopping stop and a base close to Delphi. It is located some 100 mi/160 km from Athens, going west on the superhighway E-75. Visitors are advised not to travel the roads at night, however, because of the unpredictability of the local drivers.
The village clings to the side of Mount Parnassus, one of the more important areas in ancient Greek mythology, and it is only 6 mi/10 km from Delphi, said to be the birthplace of Apollo.
Arachova (its name means "place with walnut trees") is a sleepy little village by day, except in the winter when it becomes overrun by the international jet set and Jeeps loaded with ski racks and wealthy-looking skiers from Athens.
In the summer, when the crowds have gone, the town reverts back to its tradition-bound past, when it was known for its fine, brilliantly colored weaving—the women of Arachova are said to be expert weavers—olive fields and black wine.
Visitors should start with a stroll down the main street, Delphon, where small shops are packed with wool bags, rag rugs and blankets, mostly locally made and all hand-loomed. But check labels carefully as cheaper imports from as far away as China have been making their way into the area.
The town's pair of freshwater springs off the main square are worth a visit.
Dining choices in Arachova range from super chic restaurants to the basic taverna. The traditional specialty of any taverna is lamb, roasted or stewed, along with a Greek salad and a sampling of the famous local cheeses. Among the best is Mzyithra cheese, made from ewe's milk. Other regional specialties include kokoretsi (stuffed entrails), loukanika (sausage) and chilopites (tasty square noodles).
The town seems to come alive after dinner, when the locals take to the streets for a post-prandial stroll or volta. This "energy walk" occurs mainly along the main street, but people stay out until late at night (the shops reopen after being closed during the midafternoon), and it's a good time to mix with the local people in an informal way.
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