Between the mountains and the sea by Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011)
“About forty years ago, when my wife Joan and I first saw the Mani, it was from high above. We had come on foot from Anavriti, near Sparta, and climbed up the Taygetos mountains.
When we came down the other side into the Mani, it seemed, with its enormous and rather solemn beauty, like the promised land in the Bible, and, in spite of its famous warlike past, it struck us as the quietest and most peaceful place we had ever seen.
We were searching for somewhere to settle for good—a place to read and to write books in—and we found it here, between the mountains and the sea. And, as soon as we could, we were the earliest foreigners to become permanent inhabitants of the Mani.
Above all, we felt we were among friends.
It took over two years, with a marvellous team of masons from Kardamyli and Proasteion, to build the house, so we lived in tents among the olive groves and cypresses of Kalamitsi, and did our best to learn from the style and the traditions of the Mani. It was a great moment when we managed to get water from the village. We moved in long before electricity had reached here, so we lived for two or three years by lamp and candlelight.
When the painter Nikos Ghikas and the poet George Seferis came to stay, Seferis said that the soft radiance on the chipped stone must have been just like the lighting that the ancient Greeks lived by after dark.”
Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011)
Address to the Village, written circa 2005