THE NORTH-WESTERN part of Greece, like Macedonia, was always regarded as somehow ‘other’, neither exactly foreign, nor exactly Greek, by the ancients, yet both today excite feelings of nationalistic fervor in hotter Greek breasts. The Epirus (the ‘mainland’ or ‘continent’, as it certainly is when viewed from the Ionian Islands) once extended into presentday Albania. It contains some venerable ancient sites: that of the oracle at Dodona, second only to that of Delphi, and the Necromanteion (near modern Parga), the gateway to Hades, where Odysseus (Ulysses) consulted the oracle of the dead.
In the first years of the 19th century the Epiros found fame as the Serfdom of Ali Pasha, Byron’s tales of whom launched the vogue for barbarian chif. The Epirots are famed as mountain men and shepherds. As nomads they scorned village life as semi-nomads, which some still are, they would only consent to being housed in winter. The Epirus’ Finest and oldest villages, therefore are mountain ones, and pre-eminent amongst these are the Zagorochoria.