A winter trip to Ioannina

After a winter trip to Ioannina…

Spontaneous car trips, even if small, are my favorites… Especially when I share the car with the ladies of the family.
The final destination in mind but not necessarily the exact way to arrive… can change depending on the travelers’ moods and intentions…

With that in mind, we made it to the city of Ioannina, a charming city that has accomplished to mix its old history with its contemporary one, having the fog as an accomplice, offering a veil of mystery and an unworldly beauty…


The City of Ioannina

Did you know that Ioannina, often called Yannena within Greece, is the capital and largest city of the Ioannina regional unit and of Epirus, an administrative region in north-western Greece? According to the 2011 census, the city population was 65,574, while the municipality had 112,486 inhabitants.

The city’s foundation has traditionally been ascribed to the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD, but modern archaeological research has uncovered evidence of Hellenistic settlements. Ioannina flourished in the late Byzantine period (13th–15th centuries). It became part of the Despotate of Epirus following the Fourth Crusade and many wealthy Byzantine families fled there following the sack of Constantinople, with the city experiencing great prosperity and considerable autonomy, despite the political turmoils. Ioannina surrendered to the Ottomans in 1430 and until 1868 it was the administrative center of the Pashalik of Yanina. In the period between the 18th and 19th centuries, the city was a major center of the modern Greek Enlightenment. Ioannina was ceded to Greece in 1913 following the Balkan Wars.

The city is also characterized by various green areas and parks, including Molos (Lake Front), Litharitsia Park, Pirsinella Park (Giannotiko Saloni), and Suburban Forest. There are two hospitals, the General Hospital of Ioannina “G. Hatzikosta”, and the University Hospital of Ioannina. It is also the seat of the University of Ioannina. The city’s emblem consists of the portrait of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian crowned by a stylized depiction of the nearby ancient theater of Dodona.

The city’s formal name, Ioannina, is probably a corruption of Agioannina or Agioanneia, ‘place of St. John’, and is said to be linked to the establishment of a monastery dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, around which the later settlement (in the area of the current Ioannina Castle) grew. According to another theory, the city was named after Ioannina, the daughter of Belisarius, general of the emperor Justinian.

There are two forms of the name in Greek, Ioannina being the formal and historical name, while the colloquial and much more commonly used Υannena or Υannina (Greek: Γιάννενα, Γιάννινα) represents the vernacular tradition of Demotic Greek. The demotic form also corresponds to those in the neighboring languages (e.g., Albanian: Janina or Janinë, Aromanian: Ianina, Enina or Enãna, Macedonian: Јанина, Turkish: Yanya).


Why I Love Winter Trips

Let me tell you, I have a serious love affair with Greece, and winter just adds an extra dash of magic to the whole experience.

First off, let’s talk about the weather. Don’t you just adore those crisp, cool temperatures that make you want to bundle up in cozy sweaters? Well, Greece in winter delivers that in spades. The air is fresh, the skies are clear, and you can practically see your breath as you explore the ancient streets. It’s like stepping into a fairytale.

Another reason I’m head over heels for winter trips in Greece is the lack of crowds. You see, during the summer months, hordes of tourists descend upon this beautiful land, making it a bit challenging to find your own slice of paradise. But come winter, it’s a whole different story. You can wander through historic sites, sip on a hot cup of Greek coffee in a quaint café, and truly immerse yourself in the local culture without feeling overwhelmed.

And let’s not forget the stunning landscapes! Greece has an incredible diversity of terrain, from the snow-capped mountains of the mainland to the picturesque islands dotted along the coast. Can you imagine anything more dreamy than watching the waves crash against the rocks while you’re wrapped up in a cozy blanket on a secluded beach? It’s pure bliss, my friends.

But what truly steals my heart during winter trips in Greece is the warmth of the people. The Greeks are known for their hospitality, and in the winter months, that warmth shines even brighter. You’ll be greeted with open arms, invited to share in traditional feasts, and treated like family wherever you go. It’s an experience that leaves a lasting imprint on your soul.

If you’re looking for a winter escape that combines natural beauty, rich history, and heartfelt hospitality, Greece is calling your name. Embrace the magic of winter in this incredible country, and I guarantee you’ll fall head over heels, just like I did. Happy travels!