In the midst of the mountains of Lefkada, just a stone’s throw from the island’s main spring where streams of pure water gush in Winter, stands a lovely, delightful and tiny bar.
The Magical Woodland BAR
Built of stone and wood, like a mountain hut it has a sloping roof and a patio in front with a few cosy tables decorated with original handmade souvenirs.
The view of the valley is magical, mystical and surreal; the patio overlooks the beautiful Vafkeri valley and the hill behind forms a crescent like an immense amphitheatre.
In Autumn, a pair of hawks flies low, performing high school acrobatics among the bright red leaves.
In Winter, the wind whistles through the branches of the bare trees.
In Spring, birdsong cries the island awake, overpowering our voices.
In Summer it is the cicadas that are the protagonists, woken early in the morning by the sound of cowbells, a melodious swaying sung by centuries of tradition. They are the goats of Kostas, the last of an ancient family of shepherds, who follow invisible paths into the forest.
The BAR stands right in the centre of the island, as if passing through its pivot.
The Plan tree
It is part of a square protected by an immense plane tree that has been rooted in the land of Lefkada for more than five centuries, there is a church, an ancient grape press with a carved stone base that has been used to make wine by local families for more than two hundred years, and the Taverna O’Platanos, an oasis of mountain culinary traditions.
Welcoming you at the BAR is Alina, a beautiful and very friendly girl.
Her green eyes always smile, you immediately feel welcome and the coffee is some of the best on the island. Alina has lived in Italy for more than 13 years and has brought with her a wealth of experience from the Bel Paese.
It is not for nothing that the coffee is Borbone, ground locally and made to perfection.
The machines were fine-tuned by the legendary Spinazz, a great caffeine expert.
The cappuccino is so creamy that you are sure to ask for a second.
A regular companion at the BAR are the cats. Beautiful and affectionate, they are also cuddled by Alina’s two little dogs.
A part of the proceeds is donated to support the large feline colony in Vafkeri, an initiative started by the commendable Ann, a very nice Welsh lady who has always treated every living creature she comes across with love.
Alina’s BAR has also become famous for its wines, selected from the best Greek and Apulian labels.
Wine and Mountain
There is no shortage of Assyrtico from Santorini, a fine Xinomavro Grand Reserva from Naussa in Macedonia, Moschofilero from Mantinea, some grand crus from the Peloponnese such as Nemea and the mystical wines from Holy Mount Athos.
The pairings are artfully designed to leave the customer more than satisfied.
Yes, but where does the BAR come from?
Only the island knows.
It was closed there, used as a warehouse, and no one believed in it anymore.
He sighed wistfully, asking for another chance.
Yes, it’s not easy in the mountains… isolated from everything and everyone, in the middle of nowhere….
but the fragrant wooden walls… the dreamy view… the tranquillity and history of the place… yes because we are in
Vafkeri old press
Vafo to keri they called it, the place where the wine came from for Sunday services, so red and dark that it stained the wax of the candles should some absent-minded priest have spilled a few drops.
Alina’s BAR today, in just one season, has become a renowned wine bar.
We come from Syvota where wealthy tourists leave the comfort of their yachts to taste the pairings proposed by me, composed by Alina and prepared by Taverna O’Platanos.
They come to Nidri to breathe in some good air and enjoy an excellent coffee overlooking the valley.
They come from Vassiliki and Lefkas town, to enjoy the company of those who love the island, have chosen it and live it.
The most beautiful and most frequent question is always the same. But from Italy, from Puglia, have you come here? In the middle of the mountains? Why?
Eh… it would take a book to explain it… not for nothing did I wrote it.