Matsouki: the Ossuary Porch
Metsovo to Matsouki
“Where can we camp?” I asked in the Matsouki café. “Anywhere you like,” came the reply. So we put up our tent under the porch of a little building next to the cemetery. Glancing inside, I saw shelves of neatly labelled boxes of bones: the ossuary. The Greek Orthodox church forbids cremation, and there is little suitable land for burial, so after some years, the bones are dug up and kept in the ossuary. At dusk, old ladies in black came to light the nightlights on the graves. “Aren’t you afraid of ghosts?” they asked.
We camped in some strange places, but although wild camping is officially forbidden, we were always welcomed.
It was now early autumn. We’d disappeared down to the coast to escape the summer heat, and when we returned to Metsovo, the mountains were brown and parched, the spring flowers long gone. This was magnificently desolate country, with peaks rising over 2000 metres.
Route: Metsovo, Kalarites, Matsouki
Vilica monastery. Like many monasteries no longer inhabited, but with crowds coming to celebrate the saint’s day. Broom provided in the courtyard with exhortation to visitors to keep the place tidy.