This week Paula asks us to post our best photo from 2017. I wasn’t sure where to start, but decided to reprise the cricket which, the first time around, Ark kindly identified as a Katydid or bush cricket. It is certainly my most surprising shot of the year – both for its clarity and the fact the cricket appears to have been watching me while I organised myself with the camera. I also like the curving grasses and the bands of light and shade, and the way the cricket appears to be super-illuminated. But best of all, it reminds me of Kalamata, and the mesmerizing views of the Taygetos and the Mani across the Gulf of Messinia for I find myself still badly smitten with the Peloponnese. Ah, well. Maybe next year…
I’m very fond of hardware shops, though I’m old enough to say they mostly aren’t what they used to be – those ill-lit aisles of childhood with their mysterious bins containing every size of nut, screw, hinge and widget. The cocktail whiffs of twine, Jeyes Fluid, paraffin and polish, and a little man in a brown cotton coat behind a high, gloss painted counter, he the unassuming master of this multi-component repository.
The shop in Harakopio looked promising on the authenticity front, and I was only sorry not to have the chance of a good mooch inside. But still, it was good to capture its jolly exterior, and nice of some local to park their blue motorcycle outside.
Six Word Saturday Pop over to Debbie’s for more six-word posts and an astonishing view of Alice. And just in case you wanted to know, this cricket was spotted in the garden of the Iconpainter’s Villas in Greece.
The Ottoman fort at Pylos is monumental, and comprised of an outer defensive wall and a citadel. It was built after the Turkish invasion of 1500, and apart from two brief interludes – one Venetian, one Russian, was held by the Ottoman regime until the Greek War of Independence in 1821. Even at the last lap, Ibrahim Pasha and his Turko-Egyptian army proved hard to oust, and after an initial surrender of the fort in 1821, it was reoccupied by them in 1825, and hung onto until 1828.
The first photo was taken from the citadel, which during occupation by the French in the 19th century was used as a prison. The church you can see below is the Church of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, and was originally built as a mosque around 1573. Under the brief Venetian rule of 1675 to 1715 and during the Orloff Revolt of 1770 it served as a Christian church, and it is in this capacity that it was restored by the Greek Government between 2011 – 2015.
Inside the citadel, and the nineteenth century prison cells.
Looking down on the outer defensive wall and the sea-arch beyond.
The outer walls on the seaward side. The hillside was heavy with the scent of pine trees, and cyclamen were growing everywhere among the cones and fallen castle debris.
Inside the Church of the Transfiguration of the Saviour.
Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past Please visit Paula to see her fine view of Alnwick Castle.
We had been promised rain, and rain it did, pounding off the pantile roofs, turning the veranda steps into cascades. By lunchtime the shining Gulf that had been our view all morning was sunk in steely gloom while the Taygetos had dissolved completely. (How can mountain ranges disappear like that?)
It was not a good start to the holiday. But the six of us gathered together in one little house, and some of us prepared bruschetta using up the solid Greek bread together with the more delicious tomatoes and garlic from Maria’s garden, which we tucked into to the sound of tumbling rain.
But at last the storm bursts eased, and across the valley the cockerel began to crow, and among the garden olive trees the crickets sang, and the grasses steamed. A consensus of smart phone forecasts also suggested that the rain had passed – well, more or less, and that it might now be timely to set off to Harakopio and discover what its supermarket offered in the way of supper supplies.
We set off under cloudy skies, following directions on Maria’s hand-drawn map, which Bob had snapped with his cell phone. It was a one and half mile walk, we were told, mostly on level paths, and with our backs to the sea. Hopefully we would not lose ourselves on the network of byways between Harakopio and Kombi. We were also told that if we bought too much stuff to carry back to tell the girls at the supermarket and they would keep it until Michael was next passing in his car. Our hosts at the Iconpainter’s Villas left no stone unturned to ensure our every comfort and happiness.
And so here are some of the sights and vistas on our path as it wound through olive groves and vineyards, by ramshackle farmsteads and deluxe villas, our passing marked by proprietorial, but good-natured barking from farmyard dogs. Otherwise, all was quietness. No cars. No distant traffic drone. Only our soft chatter. There were wild cyclamen growing along the verges, fennel and rosemary, shrubby Kermes oaks with their spiny acorn cups and leaves like holly, prickly pears, morning glory. And as I went, I fell in love with olive trees, their stillness, their gnarly boles and contorted branches, the muted tones, the changes in light beneath and between the trees as the sun came out once more.
And on our return trip, well laden with good Greek produce, we again looked to the sea where the storm clouds were finally clearing, and beneath all was ethereal blue with the Taygetos doing their mirage impression. It would be a fine evening.
copyright 2017 Tish Farrell
When it comes to pets, I have to admit to being a dog-lover first and foremost, but as we tramped up and down the many stepped byways to and from Koroni castle, we met a number of very handsome cats. In fact there were cats and dogs everywhere we went along the coast. Some had more to say for themselves than others. The Koroni cats were particularly self-contained. One definitely had the impression it was THEIR village, and foreign interlopers were thus beneath their regard. They could take us or leave us.
Over the past three thousand years the Messenian Peloponnese has suffered so many phases of foreign invasion it is hard to know where to start unravelling its history. Best stick with the built remains then. This massive medieval bastion belongs to Koroni Castle, built in the early 1200s CE by the Venetians, and one of a string of Messenian coastal forts controlled by the Republic until 1500.
The Turks invaded next. After summary slaughter in neighbouring Methoni, so spurring Koroni to a quick surrender, they set about strengthening the castle’s eastern defences, which perhaps included this tower. It is hard to track down details. One Greek writer, whose identity I am yet to discover, described Koroni Castle as ‘the architecture of hate.’ He had a point. Venice anyway regained control in 1685, and of course the Turks came back again later, staying until the Revolution of 1821, which finally ousted them.
Koroni’s historic heyday, though, was the thirteenth century. Under the first round of Venetian rule it was referred to as ‘the chief eyes of the Republic’, and as such, was one of the main ports of call for the ships and galleys of Venice’s Levantine trade. Its must-have product was cochineal, much desired by Venetians for the lustrous dye it yielded. So now you know where that gorgeous Venetian red came from – this small corner of the Peloponnese.
Today, you can spend many hours wandering around the castle’s 40 hectare interior. It is then you begin to grasp that before the Venetians occupied Koroni there were invader Franks on site – they of the French-Italian Crusader States. And before them, in the era of the Eastern Roman Empire of Constantinople, there was a Byzantine fort. This had apparently been built atop an ancient acropolis. And long before the Byzantine presence – that is from around 700 BCE and for a few hundred years, the Spartans were in occupation, so muddying the archaeological remains of the very much earlier Bronze Age Mycenaean period (1400-1100 BCE) and the ancient settlement of Assini.
And these are just the barest bones of Koroni’s history.
There are also astonishing present-day aspects. The first that strikes you is that people actually live inside the castle. As you walk up from the towering seaward gateway, you find yourself on an ancient cobbled street, and next there are cottages with pretty gardens, and later we come on an olive grove and a small holding. As ever, there are many cats about. There is also a cemetery which is in current use, several churches, ancient and modern, used and disused, and a monastery that is now only inhabited by nuns. The latter has a tranquil garden and a gift shop and picturesque cottages where the nuns live, and you are free to wander around.
This next and final shot is was taken just outside the monastery entrance, one of the several sacred buildings built cheek by jowl in this part of the castle interior. It is dedicated to Saint Sophia and, dating from the 11th century Byzantine period, overlies the ancient temple precincts of Apollo. At which point you lose all grasp of time, since there is simply too much of it to fathom, and decide that a swift downhill return to a harbour taverna and an enlivening cappuccino is definitely called for.
copyright 2017 Tish Farrell
Koroni Castle CORONELLI, Vincenzo 1688 Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation Library
We’d tried to overlook the fact that rain and storm had been forecast during our seven-day trip to the Peloponnese. But here it came, quite dissolving the Mani peninsula, stilling the waters of the Gulf, giving them an ominously bruised look.
But then the drama of light and mood more than made up for the downpour, and once we had learned that the rain was responsible for boosting the oil content of the olives, and that the locals were pinning their hopes on a good harvest come November, it seemed churlish to feel resentful. Besides, Kalamata olive oil is some of the best there is. More power to its production and all who grow it is all I can say.
P.S. I was sure I had posted this on Monday for Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Storm thus preceding Peroulia Dreaming #9 with the brolly.
But this morning I found I hadn’t. So here it is (with apologies for a few extra words) for Debbie’s Six Word Saturday
Autumn comes to Peroulia Beach, and the locals abandon their brollies and sun loungers on the shore. Far too cold, they say.
Thursday’s Special FALL