Terrain by Luna Revelli
The landscape here is dramatic, kaleidoscopic. Vertiginous mountains drop into a deep Mediterranean. Cyan and ochre mix like ancient friends. The soil is rich in iron, but the ground is mostly steep and stony, difficult to till and to sow. Further south, it borders on arid and barren.
During mid-summer, the sun is hot and water is precious, but at midday temperate winds swirl and, by evening, a soothing breeze rolls down from the upper slopes. At midnight, away from the lights, up in the foothills, the sky can be velvety-silver with stars.
It’s terrain that determines how life makes its way across the day, shaping course and habit.
Life here is extremely dynamic: instances of intensity mitigated by moments of peace. People are tough, resilient, sometimes defiant. It’s hard to get things done—none of the convenience or cushioning of the metropolis. Even the beaches are rocky and rugged. Everything is always a little bit difficult.
As a result, one learns to simplify. It’s the age-old adage about the land that crafts its inhabitants and, just like the ancient Spartans before them, the Maniots have mastered the art of subsistence on simplicity.
When you learn to live on little, the much loses its lustre. Because, if you’re impressionable enough, in the life of excess the realization sooner or later dawns: It’s not the abundance or the surplus that’s enriching the existence; it’s the elementary that is creating the essentials. And, as fundamental things nourish and replenish, simpler things become increasingly necessary.
Pure things. Like the way islands in the distance appear to float on a thin haze of white during hot summer days. On such days, gazing out onto the Messinian Gulf one can clearly see the gentle curvature of the Earth. With that simple arc, one connects with the entire planet.
Visitors to the Mani will not find 5-star hotels and lavish services. They will find an opulence of an altogether different kind: A distinct richness and vibrance in the environment that surrounds them—in colour, form, detail, light, scent, sound, sensation—and a subtle plenitude in the understatedness of the people.
Luxury has its way of dulling the senses. The Mani revitalizes.