Spreading in an arc north of Lemesos, the Troodos foothills offer an opportunity to get away from the brashness and heat of the city and the coast. This is open countryside that rises in a series of ridges towards the heights of the Troodos massif, dotted with hill villages that have supported themselves over the centuries by cultivating citrus fruits, olives and above all wine. The southward-facing slopes provide the perfect terroir for growing grapes (particularly indigenous Mavro and Xynisteri as well as imported Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties), something they’ve been doing in this area for over five thousand years.
It’s not easy to explore the foothills of Lemesos District in any systematic way. One approach would be to follow the wine routes organized by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation and contained in a useful free guidebook available from tourist centres and participating wineries.
Another approach might be to cluster the villages to be visited into geographical groups – the ones sometimes called the “Krassochoria” (Wine Villages) to the west, the group in the centre, once ruled by the Hospitallers in Kolossi and known collectively as the Koumandaria, and the villages to the east marketed, rather hopefully, by the tourist authorities as “the Cypriot Tuscany”. Or you can, of course, simply meander through the region, going where the spirit takes you. Do, though, stick to the main roads, even though this can mean a lot of doubling back – what on the map may look like a tempting short-cut between villages could turn out to be a rutted dirt road for which you’ll need a 4WD.