Lord Byron & Zitsa
His stay at the Monastery of “Ai Lias”
Besides being a dedicated philhellene, poet and rebel, Lord Byron was also an admirer of Zitsa and its wines. It was in October 1809 when he and his friend John Cam Hobhouse were accommodated at the Monastery of “Ai Lias” at Zitsa, where he tasted the monastic wines of the area and was impressed so that he claimed that those wines were some of the best in Europe.
In his turn, Hobhouse records in his diary that Abbot Gregory offered them a white wine for which he was very proud of.
Even though it was the first time Lord Byron ever visited Greece, the experiences he gathered affected him so deeply that he felt the urge to join the Greeks in their fight for independence. His passing from Zitsa is evidenced up to this day by the stone engraving at the entrance of the monastery of Prophet Helias and also by his poem “Child Harold’s Pilgrimage” which praises the heavenly environment of our homeland.
“Child Harold’s Pilgrimage”
A POEM SPECIALLY DEDICATED TO ZITSA
"Monastic Zitza! from thy shady brow,
Thou small, but favour’d spot of holy ground!
Where’er we gaze, around, above, below,
What rainbow tints, what magic charms are found!
Rock, river, forest, mountain, all abound,
And bluest skies that harmonize the whole:
Beneath, the distant torrent’s rushing sound
Tells where the volumed cataract doth roll
Between those hanging rocks, that shock yet please the soul."
George Gordon Noel Byron (Lord Byron der Sechste)
By George Gordon Noel Byron
The journey of Hobhouse and Lord Byron was nothing but easy. During a horrific thunderstorm the two men took different ways. Hobhouse realized that Byron was missing only after he arrived at Zitsa.
Fletcher (Lord Byron’s servant) and his Greek interpreter feared the worst. It seems though that Byron found the situation so exciting and inspiring that he composed the poem quoted here below:
Inspiration through a thunderstorm...
“Chill and mirk is the nightly blast,
Where Pindus’ mountains rise,
And angry clouds are pouring fast
The vengeance of the skies.
Our guides are gone, our hope is lost,
And lightnings, as they play,
But show where rocks our path have crost,
Or gild the torrent’s spray.
"Is yon a cot I saw, though low?
When lightning broke the gloom ---
How welcome were its shade ! --- ah, no! ’
Tis but a Turkish tomb.
Through sounds of foaming waterfalls,
I hear a voice exclaim ---
My way-worn countryman, who calls
On distant England’s name."