Zivania Festival is one of the most traditional events of the island and takes place in three picturesque villages, Alona and Pelendri, in the mountainous area east of Mount Olympus, known as Pitsilia. The two villages, which are famed for Zivania making, share this annual celebration, which takes place during two consecutive weekends during the month of November.
With an alcohol content of 40-99%, it is no surprise that the island’s national drink of Zivania is also referred to as ‘firewater’! The strong drink dates back to the 14th century when the island was under Venetian rule and is still made in the same tradition today. Grape pomace (remains such as pulp, peel, stalks and seeds) is mixed with high-quality dry wines made from the indigenous grapes of Mavro (black) and Xynisteri (white), then distilled and mellowed for a long period.
Distillation takes place in a cauldron (‘kazani’) with three different processes producing different qualities and intensity of the drink. The resulting liquid is clear and highly potent and can be drunk as an aperitif – best served cold from the freezer. A red variety is also produced with the colour lent by the addition of cinnamon. As it ages it becomes better and more aromatic, and an old bottle is often saved for special occasions.
Before modern medicine, Zivania was an essential first-aid staple in every Cypriot home. It can be used to treat and sterilize wounds, to massage sore body parts, to numb toothache, or to warm the body from cold. It was especially important as a warming tonic for the Troodos mountain villages, where temperatures drop far lower than on the mainland.
Visit Pelendri or Alona on the day of the festival, walk towards the center of the village and discover the area of the event. Mingle with the locals, watch the demonstration of the slow procedure of distillation of this Cyprus spirit, taste it and accompany your drink with local smoked meats like Hiromeri (leg of pork), Lountza (pork fillet), Loukanika – Cyprus Sausages (made of thickly chopped pork meat). We advise you to do as the locals and find accommodation for an overnight stay nearby or transportation back to your accommodation in case you get carried away with Zivania tasting.
In addition to the demonstration of the traditional distillation method with the cauldron and zivania tasting, you can enjoy live folklore music, dance performances at the Festival and visit nearby stalls selling traditional products.
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For more info: https://www.facebook.com/Alona.village/
For more info: https://www.facebook.com/pedoulas1
Health protocols implemented to deal with COVID 19 pandemic have led to the cancellation or postponement of events, which require large gatherings. Our Heartland Events include annual/ bi-annual events and are listed here to help you organize your next trip. We will update our selection of events according to the latest developments, however please check with the event organizers before visiting.