About the Area
The town is famous all over the world for the delicious large black eating olives that are grown in the area. Locals claim that the original tree grown hundreds of years ago to produce the large black olives still stands in the town centre. They say that every one of the eating olive trees in the whole of Messinia come from the original cuttings taken from this tree.
A ferry runs once a week in the summer months from Kalamata to the unspoilt island of Kithara and then onto Rethymnon Harbour on Crete. From Kalamata to Athens takes only 3 hours on the new motorway. Local coaches run frequently every day at a very reasonable cost. The scenery is stunning with ancient castles, monastery's, churches, majestic mountains, deep verdant valleys and the vineyards of the Nemea.
Water sports, diving, bike riding and golf are all available in the area. There are many lovely beaches and pretty villages to explore. Hiking in the hills, mountains and to quiet waterfalls is very popular. Walking trails offering stunning views can be found everywhere and the area is very popular with keen photographers.
Olive trees and cypress groves cover the landscape and because they keep their leaves in winter a profusion of greenery is enjoyed all year. Many of the olive trees are reputed to be over a thousand years old. An abundance of wild flowers can be seen especially in spring and autumn. Wild Orchids, crocus, cyclamen, anemones, poppies and many more species flower in fields and hedgerows. Vibrant gardens with bougainvillea, oleander and numerous flowering shrubs give colour in the hotter months.
Restaurants offering many styles of Greek cooking can be found in the small towns and villages. Most are family run and very welcoming. Not to be missed is the local speciality 'Pig in the Box!' Pigs reared in the area are roasted whole in the outside olive wood ovens. When cooked the whole pig is placed on a trolly and taken through the restaurant ready to be served. Using a very sharp cleaver the pig is chopped into mouthwatering portions of meat and crispy cracking. The small village of Sterna, a few minutes drive from Strefi, is quite famous for it's Pig in the Box. Locals will queue waiting for the first pig to appear so that portions can be taken home to eat with their families. The second pig is served in the restaurant to eagerly waiting diners.
Another enjoyable speciality is spinach pie made with spinach and feta cheese. This is is sold by local bakeries and eaten by many Greeks for breakfast. Local bakeries sell many different kinds of bread all baked freshly every day. It is rare to see a sliced loaf with a sell by date in a greek bakery! The bakeries also produce daily a large variety of cakes and very tempting sweet pastries.
Just outside of Strefi a slope leads down to a small river with a beautiful preserved roman bridge. Local boys used to enjoy leaping off it into the flowing water to cool off on hot sunny days. In the same area a small secret church can be found. Built into the stone hillside the small interior is lovingly kept. The small bell hanging from the roof is rung on special occasions. Another lovely small church stands in Strefi. This was built by hand by a local family. The interior is as beautiful as any seen in great churches.
For those who love antiquity, two of the greatest ancient sites in all of Greece are to be found in Messinia.
Ancient Messini dating back 369 BC sits in a wonderful setting. According to local myth Zeus was born here and not in Crete and raised by the nymphs Nedra and Athomi. The site rivals Olympia and Epidavros and is still undergoing excavation. The vast Sanctuary of Asclepius is the most intact and impressive of all Ancient Greek Stadiums.
The Palace of Nestor standing near to Pylos is one of the most impressive Mycenaean palaces to be excavated. The throne room of the Homeric King is especially admired. In addition there are many sites of ancient tombs, temples and ancient cities including ancient Thouria to be found in the area. The ancient fortress city of Methoni standing by the sea and the Castle at Koroni are not to be missed.