No, I’m not talking about its political drama, though that’s certainly true. I’m talking about the endless beauty that draws me to live there. It is heaven on earth in so many ways, and not just on the islands that most seem to dream of when they think of Greece.
So, today I thought I’d take you to another dreamy part of Greece through photographs mostly brought to my attention by my friend, Poppy Psinakis Patterson. She found them on the travel website of Matt Barrett, a fellow with an encyclopedic grasp of all places Greek. The others I picked up along he way, but all of them relate to one of the most storied regions of Greece: The Mani.
Mani is the mountain-spine, middle peninsula on the trident tip of Greece’s most southern mainland part (the Peloponnese), on the same latitude as Sicily and pointing across the Mediterranean at Libya. It is where ancient Spartans are said to have settled, and if you ask Greeks what comes to mind when they hear “Mani,” the immediate response is generally, “tough, proud, enduring people.” Greece’s war of independence against the Turks began there in 1821, and though the history of the Peloponnese (and Greece as a whole) is largely one of occupation by foreign powers, Maniots proudly say that their land was never occupied.
The photos are of Poppy’s mother’s hometown of Gythion (aka Gythio or Gytheio) on the northeast corner of Mani along the Laconian Gulf. It is the largest town in Mani and the municipal seat of what is today East Mani. In antiquity it was Sparta’s port and called Cranae (though more properly that name applies to a tiny island now connected to Gythion by a causeway). When Paris abducted Helen from Sparta it was there the lovers spent their first night together before sailing off to Troy…and giving Homer the story line for one hell of a best seller.
|Paris and Helen (Jacques Louis David, 1748-1825)|
Come to think of it, Gythion (and all of Mani for that matter) is filled with stories. One of my favorites was told to me by Poppy, and it demonstrates the ferocious intensity of life amid Mani families. But, I won’t tell you that one here (and hopefully Poppy won’t either) because I’m saving it for the new Andreas Kaldis book I’m writing. That one will be #6, because #5 is finished and ready to come out in September, but I won’t say more about them either, except that I discuss MYKONOS MAGICK (Kaldis #5) in a post I put up today on the blogsite of my U.S. publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, titled, “How Did I Ever Get Myself Into This?”
But enough subtle BSP, let’s get to the photographs of Gythion.
|A ship that did not see it.|