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Traditional Activities in the Amari Region

Amari

The Amari Valley is a very fertile region to the South of Rethymnon. The valley sits between Mount Psiloritis on the East and Mount Kedros to the West. The region is known for its production of cheeses and wine, olive oil and honey and one village, Gerakari, is one of the few vilages in Crete that grows cherries. The valley is host to numurous Byzantine Churches, as in the 'old days' the road from Rethymnon to the South Coast (Messara plain) ran through it. It is in these most beautiful surroundings that we invite you to join us in some traditional activities.

  • KazaniRaki Making: autumn (October-November) is the time where lots of the local people get excited. The grape harvest has finished by the end of August. Since then the left-overs of the wine-making process have been kept in barrels with water until the fermentation process is finished. It is now time to start the distilling process. The content of the barrel is transferred to a kazani (word from Turkish origin meaning big pot), which is put on a wood fire; the contents get to near boiling point and the steam gets syphoned off through a piping system, gets cooled-down and the resulting liquid is called Raki or Tsikoudia, pending where you come from (raki comes from the Ancient Greek Rakos, meaning rubbish and tsikoudia comes from the word tsikoudi meaning shavings of fruit with pips). The alchohol volume varies from about 35-60%. The Kazani Party takes place during this process and is organized by the owner of the grape mush; he invites his friends for a descent knees-up with all kinds of grilled food and a taste of the new wine and raki. A celebration not to be missed.  You can come and experience this unique process every weekend during October.
  • Herbs and Greenery (horta) Collection: herbwith the knowledge of a local guide, spend some time in the mountainous area looking for herbs and greenery that are commonly used as key ingredients in the Cretan diet. Find out more about their history and mythology.
  • Bread Making: breadsome of the ingredients collected in the mountains can be used to make bread. Experiece the traditional way of making Cretan bread (ψομί- psomi), bread rusks (παξιμάδι - paksimadi) and all kinds of pies (πίτες - pites). With flour and your additional ingredients you can make your own by using a traditional wood oven.
  • Soap Making: "There is an interesting legend surrounding the discovery of 'soap making'. This legend accords the discovery of soap to the Romans so it must be a Roman legend to confront the Celtic claim to soap making. Probably both of these inventive peoples discovered soap making independently. The legend says soap was first discovered by women washing clothes along the Tiber River at the bottom of Sapo Hill. The women noticed the clothes became cleaner with far less effort at that particular location. What was happening? The ashes and the grease of animals from the sacrificial fires of the temples situated on the top of Sapo Hill mixed with the rain, making soap which ran down the slope in the streams of rain water giving the women a wash day bonus. You can see at a glance saponification, the chemical name for the soap making reaction, bears the name of that hill in Rome long ago, which caused one Roman washer women to comment to another, 'My wash is cleaner than yours'."
    Nowadays in traditional Greek soap making, meat fats have been replaced with olive oil and ashes with coustic soda. There are 2 ways that hand-made soap is prepared; the cold process which is a combination of olive oil, coustic soda and water, slowly blended to a light trace (to make it into a thicker consistency). It is then put into wooden moulds, left to sit for 24 hours and then cut into hand-held sizes and left to cure for 4 months. The second method is the 'hot process' which follows all the steps of cold process soap making except add 1 element: heat. This method speeds up the process remarkably as incorporating heat cuts down the curing time due to the water being evaporated. Many diiferent herbs (that can be found in the Amari region) can also be added to give your soap a benefical unique and personal twist.

Recommended accommodation for these activities include: Aravanes Rooms

For more information and booking, please fill in the contact form.

 

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