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“Passing by you see Mani in three days, walking in three months and to see its soul you need three lives. One for the sea, one for its mountains and one for its people,” wrote Patrick Lee Fermor, the British author who lived for many years and settled permanently in Mani where he died at the age of 96.
The historic region of the Peloponnese which includes the region between Mount Taygetos and Cape Matapan, also known as Tenaron, and was recognized as the “country of Magna-Hora of Mani” in 1824, referring to Magna Graecia – the sovereign Greece and the morale of the rebellious Greeks that will never be forgotten. This is the smallest sign of honor and gratitude for the contribution of the Maniates to the creation of the Greek State.
The vegetation-free image of the natural landscape of the Laconian Mani is a charming indication of its etymology, since in ancient Greek the word ‘manos’ means ‘stripped of vegetation.’
On the one side, the Bonelli’s eagles of the hills and on the other, the Peregrine falcon of the coast take a leading role in the memory of each individual image that the human mind can conceive.
The villages of Mani retain their traditional architecture and their special way of life. Nested among the rough mountain ranges, such as the much-photographed ‘Vathia’, beautiful and imposing, they wait to tell their own story to visitors.
Gytheio with its port and its unique architecture, Areopolis with its cobbled streets and its towers that have been declared monuments. The caves of Diros, Limeni opposite the Homeric Oitilo, Gerolimenas, Kotronas with its beaches and traditional architecture, Drymos, Porto Kagio, Laya, Cape Tenaron, and Kotronas are the sites to see in Eastern Mani.
Although today, Mani remains administratively divided into the municipalities of East Mani and West Mani, it retains its indivisibility and integrity.
Our show chose to spend the night at En Plo Suites in Karavostasi, Mani, where we were directly introduced to the warm hospitality, the luxury, the tradition, and the endless blue sea!
In fact, a little further on, in the fish tavern of a modern Black Pirate (‘Mavros Piratis’) – Nikos Doveas, among fresh fish, we cooked Maniatikos Lobster… the so-called Kolochtipa!
This blessed place whose peculiarity is the unique combination of the rock and the sea is not considered “the land of the olive tree” for nothing, since it is famous for its high quality oil production.
We were fortunate to experience the real dimensions of the highest quality production through Akra Morea and Mr. Kostas Christoforkis, owner and Product Manager of this company that literally adorns the science of oil production with gold medals worldwide.
Akra Morea and the premium class oil “Akra Morea Olive Oil” is located, not by chance, in Monemvasia, in the southeast of the Peloponnese. This oil is extracted at a temperature below 21 degrees C and filtered immediately. With an acidity of 0.21 and a polyphenol value of 439 mg/kg, this unique oil is considered one of the most exceptional oils in Greece!
Mr. Christoforakis, an engineer with training and many years of experience in production, talking about “friends and enemies” of oil (among them light, water, etc.) and the basic stages of quality production, explains in a simple and understandable way how we can recognize premium class olive oil:
“Mani used to be very densely forested, but the many fires, overgrazing and the hot and dry climate have contributed to the creation of a natural area that is bare and seemingly infertile. The plains near the coast are inhabited and cultivated, while the few mountain villages are built on stony, flat hills, with the necessary olive trees and vines. In the southern part of Mani, and particularly towards the Mesa Mani, the soil becomes stonier and the climate more rugged, and the crops are becoming increasingly scarce. However, the area is rich in plants, some of which grow nowhere else. Although the absence of forests is particularly noticeable, the loss is made up for by the presence of olive trees and the abundance of flowers.”
On the tiny beaches, with the transparent crystal clear waters shimmering with the grace of nature, the 600 summer swimmers of Oceanman [open water swimming races] who visited us from 34 countries around the world, seem to float in a liquid, turquoise universe… The Otilos!
Mr. Thanasis Papadimitriou, president of ‘EY ZHN’ and Mr. Armandos Linardos, race director of Oceanman Greece, welcomed us to the popular internationally renowned event, enriching us with knowledge and respect for the sea, love for the sport of swimming but also with an understanding of how the most ancient saying ‘EY ZHN’ can stand alongside modern Greece and its lands when we become capable of combining tourism, sport, health and well-being with simple actions… interaction between the different cultures!
Among the participating athletes was Christos Koromilas, President of Iona AMEA and member of the Board of Directors of the Lighthouse of the Blind of Greece, the Guide Dogs for the Blind of Greece, and the EAM AMEA (The Greek National Sports Federation for People with Disabilities).
One could say that the smiling and dynamic Christos Koromilas, a modern ‘Mavromichalis’ is a great ambassador of ‘EY ZHN’ and its teaching because through a single interview he managed to filter in our thoughts the true relation between life and water: human passion and emotion.
This passion, that knocked on his door 14 years ago, depriving him of one of the basic senses – sight, became “a vehicle for transporting positive energy from the mines of the heart to the jewels of visions.”
Hard stone-warm heart
This could be the age-old equation between the land and the soul of the Maniates. You see them, you hear them, you experience them standing proudly on the rocks of morality resisting any threat, any hijacking of human consciousness!
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