In the beautiful and wild Laconian Mani, part a

The tribute to Mani begins… Join us on another sweet journey!

Read here the second part and here the third part of our tribute.

Mani is the name of the area in the south of Laconia and Messinia, with the southern tip being Cape Tainaro (or Cape Matapan). It consists respectively of Laconian and Messinian Mani, which also have morphological differences. Laconian Mani has a wilder beauty, while Messinian is more green and cool.

Arriving in Laconic Mani we saw the famous wild beauty of the Mani landscapes and we thought about its history… We could not do otherwise, since it is one of the most historic areas of Greece. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Mani is the place that never submitted to the Ottoman conquerors! An invulnerable area, which offered a lot to the Greek Revolution of 1821. We find these characteristics imprinted in its architecture, in the towers and castles, which we will deal with a lot in the first article of our tribute.

Driving to our first destination, the village of Kafiona in Laconian Mani.

So, in our first Mani article, we visit Laconian Mani, find out about its history and analyze its architecture, gather rich photographic material, try its gastronomy, drink refreshing cocktails and discover picturesque landscapes and beautiful beaches.

Mani! On the Laconian side from where we will start our travel articles about this wonderful and historic place!
The entrance to the four-star hotel Koukouri Village

What a pleasure after the trip to arrive at a spotless, spacious room and sink into such a soft mattress that it won’t let you get up! This is what we did as soon as we entered the room of the four-star hotel Koukouri Village in the village of Kafiona, near Areopolis, after taking a warm, relaxing bath in its spacious and clean bathroom first…

The wonderful room -like a house- of Koukouri Village… Thank you so much for the hospitality!

Koukouri Village is a beautiful complex of buildings, built in stone to suit Mani’s landscape. It really looks like a quiet village, a place perfect to be our base!

Ready for our night out!
As in all our excursions, we became friends with the animals of the area!

So, after we got ready, we headed to Areopolis, to take our walk, eat and drink. Areopolis is a village of the eastern, Laconic Mani, a historical and preserved traditional settlement since it is the homeland of the Mavromichalis family and is one of the first places that raised the flag of the Greek Revolution. Its name means the city of god Ares, the ancient Greek god of war.

As soon as we arrived at the square of Areopolis, we saw a Karagiozis -traditional Greek shadow puppet theatre- show, offered by the Municipality of Eastern Mani to the children and adults of the area. It was really a very nice initiative!

The statue of Petrobey Mavromichalis, ruler of Mani, in the square of Areopolis.
Free Karagiozis show, offered by the Municipality of East Mani
On the beautiful pedestrian street of Areopolis

After our walk in the picturesque Areopolis, we sat down for our dinner in the tavern “O Barba Petros“. There we were welcomed by the manager of the restaurant Mrs. Kati, the owner Mr. Pierros Bathrelos and his son Giannis Dermitzoglou.

The tavern “O Barba Petros”
In the nice courtyard of the tavern…
With Ms. Kati, manager of the restaurant

We were told that the tavern is the oldest in Areopolis, since 1926, and that it is passed down from generation to generation. The ingredients used are very carefully selected and the food is of course all handmade. This is one of the reasons why the tavern is one of the pillars of tourism in the area. Their motto is that the customers will eat as well as the owners would, maybe even better! Quality tourists will definitely visit the tavern, we were told, since they recognize that everything is made with a lot of love. We tried it and we guarantee it!

Our food has arrived!

They also told us a few words about the history of the tavern. This tavern was a point of reference because the grandfather traded wine and was well known for the wine, as he was the only one selling it in the area. The grandfather and grandmother supplied the neighborhood with various materials. Thus, the tavern was a hangout of the time. The father took over in 1970 and built the courtyard and terrace that we see today.

For appetizer: cheese and olives of their production, homemade sigklino (local smoked pork), beetroot salad with plums and walnuts, and carrot salad
Zucchini tops, ie zucchini sprouts sautéed with fresh tomatoes, along with other vegetables and herbs
Local sausage with orange
Pork with potatoes, from pork of their own production
Pork with plums, cranberries and other dried fruits, along with basmati rice, one of the tavern’s specialties!
Handmade pumpkin pie
To close the meal, a wonderful Greek patsavouropita (phyllo dough pie) with aromas of orange and cinnamon! Thank you very much for everything!

It was late at night, so it was time for a cocktail! Areopoli has a lot of night shops, which are full of people… We chose to visit the shop of Giannis Dermitzoglou, the “Bukka Home Bar“, just two steps from the tavern “O Barba Petros”. We sat under the beautiful bougainvillea, ordered our drinks and enjoyed the nice music and the warm atmosphere.

Under the bougainvillea of “Bukka Home Bar”
“Reina” cocktail with gin, cucumber, pink pepper and basil
“Verano Amor” cocktail with black rum, cinnamon and passion fruit.
“Bukka” cocktail of the day with Otto’s Athens Vermout, Prosecco, cherry and grapefruit soda (in the tall glass) and “Olivia” cocktail with yellow tequila, pink grapefruit soda and fresh fig puree (in the low glass)
George with Giannis Dermitzoglou, owner of “Bukka Home Bar”

Giannis gave us their new map-menu with the list of local wines, and their new drinks and cocktails, in which Greek drinks are also used.

The new map-menu of “Bukka Home Bar”, printed on recycled paper. The menu was designed by Georgia Tsiotou, of Mani Deco. We thank Giannis for the wonderful souvenir!

While enjoying our cocktails, we had a very interesting conversation with Pierros Tsatsoulis, a young farmer, who in the summer gives guided tours of the sea caves of Laconic Mani. He told us so many interesting things about the caves that we would need a whole article to describe them!

In addition, Pierros spoke to us about his certified organic crops, explaining in detail what makes them stand out. For example, in the olive grove he has used geolite, which is a natural material that improves the pH of the soil. Pierros in the winter produces olives and olive oil from white olives, Koroneiki variety and many wild olives, in an organic olive mill of his trust. A nice zero waste idea that Pierros mentioned to us is that the oil, after being used in frying, can be made into soap, as he does with his mother!

The organic extra virgin olive oil, the caper and the salt flower “P” of Pierros (source)

In the summer, Pierros produces the fleur de sel “Π”, which has almost 100% purity, guaranteed by chemical analysis. Another very interesting thing that Pierros told us is that salt has a chemical composition that forms a square, so it fits better in a square jar. He has also chosen such jars for his own sea salt. Also, Pierros told us that in the old days in Mani, when women got married, they would take as a dowry a piece of rock, which was the “refrigerator of the time”, since it contained salt with which they would preserve food, as they had no electricity…

Some of the organic products “Π”, oregano and fleur de sel.

In addition to olives, olive oil and salt flower, Pierros produces oregano from his fields in Areopolis, in an organic way. He also has wild capers, which he picks up from the cliffs where the salt of the sea reaches them day and night. The caper is debittered by his mother and placed in their organic oil, in order to maintain its taste. Finally, Pierros also picks sage from his fields. He told us that he wants to produce selected products, so that he always maintains the high quality he wants, and this way we closed our nice conversation. From our side we wish him the best!

The capers in organic oil of Pierros with the name “Π”

Having made more new friends, it was time to return to our hotel. We took a short night walk in Areopolis and returned to Koukouri Village, for a cool and refreshing sleep in the soft bed of our room.

For one last night walk in Areopolis…

The next morning a surprise awaited us! Breakfast on a shady terrace with a fantastic sea view… Koukouri Village breakfast was very nice and tasty, with toasted sandwiches, bread, rusks, butter, jam, honey, omelette, cakes and croissants. We filled our bellies and got ready for a day full of new experiences!

The interior of the dining room of Koukouri Village
Delicious breakfast for two
Cakes and croissants, since we like to eat our dessert first!

The day was very hot and what better than to take a dip in the cool sea of Laconian Mani. So we put on our swimsuits and got in the car to head south.

The first stop of our short trip we wanted to be Gerolimenas. It is a small, picturesque, seaside village. We read that during the Ottoman rule it was a stronghold of the Mani pirates and that in the past it was a great fishing shelter.

Wetting our feet in a sea resembling a postcard!
The beach of Gerolimenas with white pebbles shines in the wild landscape.

The beach of Gerolimenas has white pebbles and impressive turquoise waters. We made a short stop before continuing to the next destinations…

On the beach of Gerolimenas

We couldn’t ommit passing by a village with stone towers, churches and houses. We are referring to Vathia, a picturesque fortified settlement built in a prominent position, at the top of a hill. Just beautiful and so typical of Mani!

The sun was shining and Eat Dessert First Greece wore their hats!
In the stone-built, imposing Vathia
Climbing to see the intersection of the demolished stone building…

Searching for a few things about the traditional architecture of Mani, we found a very interesting typology for its towers, republished from the book Οι Πύργοι της Μάνης, Φρουροί από Πέτρα (2001). So, we decided to look for the different types in the beautiful landscape of Vathia and match them with the blueprints! We show with photos what we managed to find…

1. Four-sided tower, rectangular

source
In the fortified settlement of Vathia, Laconia

2. A four-sided tower with a side higher than the others

source

3. Tower next to the axis of the rectangular house

source
In the fortified settlement of Vathia, Laconia

4. Tower and house at right angles

source

5. Tower in the middle of a large side of the house

source
In the fortified settlement of Vathia, Laconia

6. Two rectangular houses on either side of the tower

source

7. Two houses on the two vertical sides of the tower

source
On the way to Porto Cayo

8. Rare type with tower in the middle of the roof of the house

source
On the provincial road Kalamata-Areopolis

After gathering sun and heat, we had to cool off at last! We continued our southern route to discover another picturesque beach, Porto Kagio. We read that its name means “Quail Port”, as it is a passage of many migratory birds and especially quail. In ancient times it was called “Limenas” or “Psammathous”, from which comes the name “Psamathias” which is used by the older inhabitants.

Porto Kagio from far
We relaxed in the shallow sea of Porto Kagio…
…and swam in the turquoise waters!

We will say goodbye to you for now with a photo reportage from the routes we did for our first article, so that the images can travel you on their own for a while longer. Stay tuned… More articles about Mani will follow soon!

A small photo reportage from the landscapes of Laconian Mani:

(Click on the photos to see them in full view)

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. What a delightful place and wonderful reportage!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much Mrs Zambrotta!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure
        (PS I’ve just sent you a friend request on Facebook)

        Like

      2. It is our pleasure! We are happy to accept it, thank you very much!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Goff James says:

    Thanks for sharing such a great post; wonderfully informative; stunning images; guess you had a great time. Best Regards.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much Goff! We truly had a great time in Mani! Greetings from Greece, have a nice day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Goff James says:

        Thanks; my pleasure; have a great day.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!! 🙏🙏🌹

      Liked by 1 person

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