The mountain Itamos with the biggest altitude being 811m it covers all the peninsula of Sithonia and it really is magical whichever season you visit it. Dressed in white in winter, it gives its place in the scent of the flowers of spring and the coolness of summer later and then captures you inside the thousand colors of autumn. The wooded hills with woods from halepio and black pines as well as oak trees and pine cone trees, bushy acres of arbutus, heath, oregano, myrtle and osier etc. compose a unique full of colors and scents landscape you that is a must see.
The mountainous habitat of great significance hosts its rich forest fauna, rare now mammals of Khalkidhiki like deer and roe deer, wolves and jackals but also foxes, rabbits and wild pigs, while it is an important area for bird predators like the snake eagle, the gold eagle and probably other kinds of eagles together with 92 other kinds of birds.
New accessible streets that were opened recently in the mountain together with the old ones as well as the marked trails lead you in any point of the mountain and give you the chance for a safe hiking in the forest.
Itamos, a tree aged 2000 years old, characterized today as a preserved monument of Nature, gave its pre-Hellenic name, in the mountainous part of Sithonia. A tree that belongs to the family of conifers and is the oldest representative of its family in Greece and in the rest of Europe.
A kind that is found mainly in the countries of central America, known to Indians but also in our Greek goddess Artemis, who used its poison so that their arrows can be more lethal in hunting as the only poisonous part of the plant is its pericarp.
CHAPEL of Agios Pavlos
8km after Nikiti towards Neos Marmaras we will turn left and we will take a narrow ascending road which will lead us to the area of Agios Pavlos 2km above. There in one of the most beautiful areas of Sithonia, in the forest with a view to the sea and the beaches of Nikiti, we will meet the church of Agios Pavlos that its name to the area. The landscape features wild plane trees around the church and the abundant drinking water that springs out a cut in the rock next to the church. There is an impressive everlasting plane tree estimated to be about 500 years old which according to tradition a Cretan planted who lived as a monk there for years. There are many visitors, locals and tourists that have their lunches under its shade.
The church was built in 1903 on the place of another temple probably old Christian Basilica. Even though in the Apostle acts as well as in other church book there isn’t a reference of Apostle Pavlos preaching in Khalkidhiki, the tradition says that the temple was built in honor of Agios Pavlos that toured in the area and when he arrived there he tore the rock with his sword from which the water of the spring comes out until today. If you ask someone from Nikiti will show you more signs of the Apostle Pavlos’s route from Nikiti to the area. In the day of its celebration on the 29th of June there was and there still is on e of the best festivals of the area.
Livadia- chapel of Agios Hristoforos
We leave the area of Agios Pavlos taking the road on our left. The landscape changes impressively from the first few meters. The route in the forest is magical. The smell of the pines as we walk under them is intoxicating and it will accompany you until the end of the route as the variety of colors and the alternation of the landscape will fill you with unforgettable images.
Continuing the road we will arrive to the junction for Livadia. We follow the road on our right that today goes parallel the main road, is part of the only motorway that until 1954 connected Nikiti with Parthenonas and Sikia. The route till the opening that we will meet in front of us remains unique, with pine trees and bushes that enchant you with its colors depending on the season that we visit the area. And there in the opening in the position Livadia lays the church of Agios Chistoforos.
A church build in 1978 next to the aluminum grovel of Agios Nikitas that is saved today and was created in 1950, AGIOS Chistoforos stands out from the rest. It is the only chapel which preserves a fireplace and beds that serve the bee keepers, hunters and shepherds of the area when the weather is bad.
A few kilometers below while passing from special locations like Akonolakas and Rousas vineyard we arrive the area of Askamnia. The special flora of the route not only with pine trees and pine cone trees but also with poplars and plane trees in the streams that we meet, between the undergrowth of fern and other plants, is unique.
In the junction that we will meet we follow the sign to Psaria on our left. The road on the right leads to Parthenonas.
A little high up the forest of pine trees becomes strangely dense. It is the position of the old forest ranger’s plantation and these pines that create today a landscape so unique are the last that remained there unavailable. In their shade under the undergrowth of the plant heather that thrives in the area, you find the heather mushrooms (sousourites in Greek) which are the favourite mushrooms of the locals.
Higher from the forest areas of Psaria we meet in our road captures the sight of every visitor and hold us there. The black pine trees that dominate here in the organized by the forest rangers position of Itamos with wooden benches and tables around the stone grill, between the tap and the wooden bridge that fits perfectly to the place, make the landscape even better.
Our route until Psaria is accompanied by the intense presence of the peak o Athos on our left, beyond the Siggitikos gulf, in the edge of the Agio Oros peninsula. When there is a clear atmosphere we can distinguish the shapes of the monasteries of the unique in the whole world monastic city of Virgin Mary.
And then, from up there, right in the first junction in the beginning of the steep ascending you find the peak of Itamos (811m.) and the fire station of the forest rangers. This is the most beautiful balcony of Sithonia with a unique view. The shape of Khalkidhiki as if a map, is imprinted live in front of our eyes. The landscape that starts from the three peninsulas, stops in the sides and reaches the peaks of the mountain of Holomontas in the northern and central Khalkidhiki. It opens in the south, until the coasts of Thermaikos and mount Olympus’s peaks while in the south east with a clear atmosphere, your sight reaches until the Northern Sporades
A big part of Northern Greece spreads magically in front of us. After we get information for the forest rangers we will meet there during the summer months for issues of the area and their jurisdiction we take the way back. If you have time, stay in the area. The 2000 year-old tree Itamos is not far away.
All paths of Itamos are probably unique. However, the path that we left for last leads us to the place of the ancient tree. A position so special that the king of the mountain’s flora decided to keep its uniqueness.
Tall, round bulks of granite on one side and impressive big black pine trees on the other side that surround a small opening give us the impression of a well-fortified natural castle. There in its castle and in a distance of 80m from the road the 2000 year-old old Itamos stands. A marvelous and respected tree that was saved by the wildfire of 1945 which burned the whole mountain. How many natural disasters it might have overcome in these 2000 years of its existence that we don’t know of?
Itamos as a plant has a very slow pace of development and as it is said each part of it is poisonous except for its pericarp. Some support that only the core of its fruit is poisonous and its poison is conium. It is sure that the goats and cattle don’t touch it. Visitors marvel at it but don’t touch it, fill the chill of the centuries that you approach and enjoy the landscape that it offers.
The desire to climb the massive granite rocks becomes a challenge when we notice that pine and not only wild flowers spread their rots and grow on these, as if they are sleepless guards of its castle. And the peak of Athos opposite thrills us. But if you decide to sleep in its shade at night then near the dusk or just before dawn, you may encounter roe deer that live in the area. If you are lucky fill your eyes with their beauty in the little time that they offer you. Once they realize you they will leave. The road to Itamos is on your left in the first junction after Psaria. It is the same junction we met previously and went right for the fire station.