Ano Doliana is a small, quiet village lying on the northern foothills of Mt.Parnonas in Arcadia. It lies in a region full of rounded hills, bubbling streams, orchards and fields. It’s not the kind of place which I would usually make the final destination of my trip. Nor would I give it a second glance if passing through on the way someplace else. However, it was chosen for our yearly company trip and I could never say no to that. In the end, it turned out to be a beautiful day of easy walking, mountain views and relaxation in this slightly shabby but graphic enough little village.
Ano Doliana lies about 180 km from Athens and 20 km from Tripoli. It’s a small village with a couple of taverns around the main road and simple houses scattered on the hillside. Sadly, at least half of the buildings seemed abandoned and slowly decaying. Some of them may come to life in the summer as vacation homes. However, most were probably left forever after their owners fled to the city in hope of better life. It’s understandable, especially for a city girl like me. On the other hand, I can’t shake off the feeling of melancholy seeing the traditional country life slowly fading away.
One of the traditional products of Ano Doliana, besides the usual meats, cheese and honey, are chestnuts. These unusual fruits (at least for me) are used in all the possible ways from sweets, pies, marmalades to main courses and liqueurs. In November, the celebration of chestnuts takes place in the village giving the opportunity to taste the renowned products and recipes.
The main (and only) historical event of Ano Doliana was the battle of Ano Doliana which took place on May 18, 1821, during the Greek War of independence. In the battle, the largely outnumbered Greek force under the command of Nikitas Stamatelopoulos managed to defeat the much larger Turkish army. This victory lead to the liberation of the city of Tripoli and to the beginning of the revolution.
There are many hiking opportunities in Ano Doliana. The long distance E4 path passes through the village on its way from Tripoli to Sparta. Plus there are multiple shorter trails through the vicinity of the village created by the local hiking group 5ende. The trails range from 2km strolls around the village to a 10km hike down to the valley. According to a local guide, some of the trails are not completed yet and some require ropes (?!) so be prepared for surprises.
We choose the 4.5 km long circular trail running through the wooded slopes bellow the village. It’s marked by the 5.2 orange signs and follows a dirt road most of the way. It passes through endless chestnut groves ornated by the occasional snow white almond tree and across multiple small streams. When the views open up between the trees you can see as far as the city of Tripoli and the Menalo mountain range. For an even better view of the Tripoli plain and the surrounding mountains, we climbed to the Dasiko Chorio above the village. The purple-marked trail will lead your way.
However, my favorite place in Ano Doliana was the little church of Agios Ioannis just outside the village. Same like the Greek revolutionaries some 200 years ago we choose this beautiful shaded spot with an amazing view of Ano Doliana to unwind after a long day.