LÁRISSA, approached across a prosperous but dull landscape of wheat and corn fields, is a major transport hub, as well as both marketplace and major garrison: army camps ring it, the airport remains monopolized by the Greek Air Force, and the southwestern part of the city – with over 160,000 inhabitants – is dominated by ranks of military housing. There’s no real reason to stay here, unless your transport scheduling requires it, and, if that happens, you’ll find a city centre with an ancient theatre and the remains of an acropolis with archeological layers dating 8000 years back to Neolithic times. In the modern centre, life focuses around three main squares and a park.

Travelling north from Lárissa, the motorway heads towards Thessaloníki via the renowned Vale of Témbi, between mounts Olympus and Óssa, before emerging on the coast. West from Lárissa, the road follows the River Piniós to Tríkala, a provincial capital with a fairly attractive centre and important Byzantine monuments nearby.

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