At a glance
Mani stretches down the middle finger of the Peloponnese from Kalamata through undulating olive groves and over Taygetos mountain range to picturesque Gytheio, then all the way down to the southern-most tip of eastern continental Europe, across fierce, rocky expanses dotted with impenetrable stone towers.
The section within the confines of Messinia province (closer to Kalamata) is called Outer Mani, and is a Tuscan-style paradise of olive orchards, cypress trees, green gorges and sun-kissed stone villages, plus sweeping beaches.
To the southeast, in Laconia, lies Inner or Deep Mani, with an austere and wild beauty, a land of rocks and cacti, family feuds and towers with special ledges from which to pour boiling water onto unwelcome visitors.
Made popular through the English-speaking world by the late author, war hero and long-term resident of the area Patrick Leigh Fermor, the Mani has a proud history of rebellion and autonomy, but also an enchanting array of attractions, ranging from the underwater Caves of Diros to the mystical heights of Mount Taygetos, from the forest of Vassiliki with its 300-year-old pines and the jaw-dropping Vyros Gorge slicing through their midst, down to the postcard-perfect old town of Kardamyli, the age-old stone ‘skyscrapers’ of Vatheia, and the idyllic coves and sandy stretches that line the coast.