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castle on top of the hill. Unlike Methoni’s warlike


castle, Koroni’s is a tranquil place, much overgrown and largely occupied by a nunnery. A short two-hour hop


away lay the workaday town town of Petalidi and its attractive sheltered bay. In the late evening the sound of live music drew us to the handsome main square where all the locals sat facing the singers on a makeshift stage. Alongside was a row of linen covered trestle tables laden with home-made pies and pastries. The music stopped and the long wait began as three local chefs judged the bake-off competition. After the winners were jubliantly announced and the bravos declared everyone gathered around the delectable dishes and tucked in. For several hours the next day we


watched two seaplanes swooping in and out of the gulf, just a few hundred metres off Leonie’s bow, scooping up water as they went to, we believe, douse the flames of a forest fire on Zakinthos. The cosmopolitan city of


Kalamata was our last port of call in Messinia, a buzzing Mecca famous for its fat black olives. We bore the intense airless heat which partners sardine-packed marina moorings in exchange for showers (ice-cold luxury), laundry machines (such ease), a huge fruit and veg market (fresh, cheap and delicious) and the lively bustle of a city (a refreshing change from the sleepy rural southern Peloponnese).


Koroni harbour Ginny at the castle at Methoni


Kalamata sits at the foot of the towering Taygetos


Mountains, which form the central spine of the middle prong of the Peloponnese, known as The Mani. Often compared to the highlands of Scotland, the region is remote, mountainous and often windswept and has a haunted past of feuding clans and bitter resistance to invaders. It is where we are heading on the next part of our voyage. The Mani is divided into two parts.


The Exo (Outer) Mani is more fertile, prosperous and closer to ‘civilisation’ and covers the northern half of the


region. The Mesa (Deep) Mani runs south of this to Cape Tenaro and is barren, desolate and rock strewn. With its myriad mountain ranges, mercurial weather and bigger seas


the Peloponnese already feels more edgy, romantic and adventurous than the rolling green islands and predictable weather patterns of the Inland Ionian. The rugged Mani is even more off the beaten track and Leonie is itching to discover its secrets.•


Traditional breadmaker at Koroni


A seaplane at Petalidi


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