Mani in mid May

The Mani is spectacular from pine forests in the mountains down through the long, deep gorges to the olive groves and stony coast. The summits of the Taygetos remain snow covered and often drowned in heavy grey cloud; the plants will be at their best in another month or so. The high tops and vertical…

Below Kastania

This side of the Mani peninsula is a narrow belt of land between mountains and sea, untamed where the slopes are too steep to create terraces. The narrow road between the hill villages of Kastania and Saidona runs along narrow ridge through rocky maquis where swathes of pink and white cistus are flowering as well…

Beachcombers and fish hawkers

The beach is wind blown under a grey sky. Usually it is empty, but the season brings an assortment of wheatears, little egrets, yellow wagtails and common sandpipers; all are foraging after a day of torrential rain. Two fishermen at the water’s edge sit, hunched like herons, over long rods. The harbour wall at Agios…

Early April on the Mani

There are days of blue sky and cool winds and others where the land is drenched by great thunderstorms or smothered by blankets of grey cloud that creep over the mountains to slowly suffocate the coast. The sea is often blue glass and sunsets a simple wash of orange; under grey skies there is often…

In pursuit!

Alkanna sartoriana is a pretty but fairly nondescript plant of dry places. I found it a few days ago above the beautiful, new amphitheatre at Platsa; took one record shot and, only when I checked Roger Marchant’s ‘Flowers of the Mani’, did I learn it was quite a rare endemic. So another and better photograph…

Agios Dimitrios to Trachila

Trachila is a small fishing village, virtually empty in March at the end of the road from Agios Dimitrios. The narrow road runs under great cliffs and past olive groves and coastal scrub and was only recently constructed so access was previously only by boat. It is a place of wide views across the sea…

Mani Olive Groves

Below the village of Platsos, a sheepdog escorts her flock up the track and moves the herd off to let an olive pruner’s car pass. Passers by are few and are barked at as sheep watch on carefully. The endless olive trees cover the flat ground as well as the shallow slopes where ancient terraces…

The Road to Vathia

The small road winds through stone-walled olive groves and small villages. Areopoli at the top of hill is the largest town with an abundance of (well two of three) confectionery shops (or Zaxaroplastiki or ζαχαροπλαστική); an important first word in any language.  The road continues south and the villages appear crumbling and part-abandoned although smart, new…

The Viros Gorge near Exochori

The Viros Gorge runs from the high Taygetos to the coast at Kardamyli; it formed an ancient route between Sparta to the coast. Some way up, a narrow road finally runs out at the small church of Agia (Saint) Paraskevi near the village of Exochori; from here a track runs on and passes below the…