The legendary tower houses
Just a short walk is all that’s needed to plunge you into the stern, unyielding nature of Mani’s history. Old Kardamyli, a fortified cluster of tower houses, rises around the 18th-century church of Agios Spyridon. Step through the main gate, try to puzzle out the marble inscriptions and stop to admire the relief sculpture of the two-headed eagle of Byzantium, the empire’s emblem. The elders who created this stone village had a powerful influence on the modern history of Greece.
Cosmopolitan, lively Stoupa
Quite a contrast to Mani’ stern and stony image is this village on the beach, 8km from Kardamyli. Not only does it boast an organised golden sandy beach facing green-blue water, but there are also hotels, restaurants and plenty of shops at arm’s reach. It is one of the most popular beaches in the Peloponnese.
Patrick Leigh Fermor
“Passing by you see Mani in three days, walking in three months and in order to see its soul you need three lives. One for the sea, one for its mountains and one for its people.” So wrote Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor – Paddy, or Kyrie Michalis, as he was affectionately known – who made Mani internationally famous through his writing. One of Britain’s best-loved authors, he lived and wrote in Kardamyli until the ripe old age of 96, his works including the novels ‘A Time of Gifts’ and ‘The Traveller’s Tree’.
Special places to stay
Whatever your choice, it is bound to prove exceptional: There are elegant small hotels, built of stone and draped in flower, leaf and branch, with spacious verandas and welcoming courtyards. Or perhaps a suite in a townhouse or even an entire villa?