Sunday 14 April 2019

Mani Notes

Well, I'm back from the glorious Exo Mani, and less than surprised to find that I'm still a citizen of the dear old escape-proof EU.
  The country we were walking in was as beautiful as ever, though the weather was unusually iffy for the time of year, with quite a lot of cloud and rain, some of it heavy. As a result, the landscape was greener and lusher than I've ever seen it. There were orchids aplenty (and cyclamens and rich scarlet anemones), rather fewer butterflies than usual, and of course an inexhaustible wealth of wonderful Byzantine churches and monasteries and of picturesque villages, many of them all but deserted at this time of year.
Highlights included Oitylo, once a thriving centre of piracy and slaving with historical connections with Medici Florence and Corsica, and now a sleepy village with a monastery that contains some of the finest wall paintings in the Mani. We were lucky enough to be let in to admire them, but no photography is allowed.
And a return visit to the beautiful Kastania and its superbly restored Church of the Metamorphosis. And a first visit (for me) to the wonderful triple village of Melia with its upper, middle and lower 'towns', each with a fascinating church. In the lowest of these the wall paintings include, in addition to the obligatory Biblical images and scenes from the lives of popular saints, some decorative panels, including this surprisingly illusionistic representation of a flowered curtain.
And, in the same church, this curious scene. Can anybody suggest what it might represent? None of us was able to crack it...

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