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The Mani Page 9

The Exo Mani (Outer Mani)

typical view mani its a bit greener hereThe Exo Mani (Outer Mani) features a beautiful 40km stretch of road between Areopoli and Kalamata (which is located in Messinia Province), a road which hugs the west coastline of the Mani peninsula. The first towns on the way are very classic Maniot villages and further on, a few small resorts which have kept some character so far. In Limeni, the port of Areopoli, is the restored tower house of Petrobey Mavromikhalis. There are some rooms and tavernas in this little port. Mostly paralleling the main road is a kalderimi (cobbled path) which has been well preserved. You can find it just beyond Itylo (to the north) and just below the road. North of Kardhamyli is a very fine gorge hike.

Itylo was the old capital of the Mani, and a base during the 16th century for both piracy and slave trading. The Maniots were adept at selling slaves between the various occupying peoples (Turks to Venetians, Venetians to Turks, women of opposing clans, etc.. The nearby Kelefa castle was built by the Turks in 1670 in an effort to control the piracy and to control the pass to the north. You can walk to it from Itylo, but must cross a gorge to do so (though it is only one km distant). Its walls have been very well preserved. Towards the coast from here is the monastery of Dhekoulou with 18th century frescoes in its chapel. Neo Itylo, though very small, offers some rooms and even a luxury hotel. Karlovassi was the ancient seaport of Itylo.

Continuing north, interesting towns include Langadha, which virtually teems with towers; Nomitsis which has three frescoed Byzantine churches and more to the north, including that of Metamorfosis with sculpted animal capitals. In Thalames is the Museum of Maniot Folklore and History (April to September, daily 9am-4pm; 2.50euros). Though it isn't much of a museum, you can buy local honey and olive oil there. South of Aghios Nikolaos you will find the first of the Pantzazi beach, which is a really pleasant spot, with a small village harbor with tavernas, cafes, and old stone houses, as well as trees shading the beach. Rooms are available here.

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