West Coast - Wild with cliffs down to the sea
The ‘wild’ west coast stretches from our home above Agios Gordios beach to Paleokastritsa, the entrance to which Lear sketched above in 1862. Beautiful beaches below Pelekas, at Myrtiotissa and where a river enters the sea at Ermones break the long cliffs between. Pelekas and the villages on the western edge of the Ropa Valley, all face inland and hide from pirates of old.
Lear painted on 26 February 1863 from Kaiser’s Throne above Pelekas across Ropa Valley to Troumpeta and the mountains. The lakes are called: Donkey Lake, Crab Lake, Mosquito Lake and Gloomy. Kaiser’s Throne was named after Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany, who from 1909-14 drove from the Achilleon Palace to admire the view and watch the sunset.
Lawrence Durrell in Prospero’s Cell 15.1.1938 wrote: “The Count’s placid little mare takes me to what is perhaps the loveliest beach in the world. Its name is Myrtiotissa. Lion-gold sand, of the consistency of tapioca, lies smoothly against the white limestone cliff. Lowering myself into these natural baths, one could die like this and wonder if it was death.”
As one arrives in the busy resort one sees this magical view of Paleokastritsa with the Monastery above the middle bay of Ag. Spiridon. It was from here that Lear sketched on 20 April 1862 (see above). He wrote: “The double bay came and the vast rocks of St. Angelo and so on anxd on to below the convent a wondrous scene of calm sea and massive savage promontory.” The painting at the top of this page was made where this photograph was taken.
Lear walked from Paleokastritsa to Corfu. Doukades is beyond and the road to Corfu off to the right. “Few views can be more fine than that looking to the Doukades and Lakones rox at early dawn.” Lear’s sketch of St. Simeon 22 April 1862.
“On my left is the convent of Paleokastrizza, and happily, as the monkey had functions at 2 a.m. they are all asleep. To my left is one of the many peacock-tail-hued bays here, reflecting the vast red cliffs and their crowning roofs of Lentisk Primari, myrtle and sage - far above them - higher and higher, the immense rock of St. Angelo rising into the air, on whose summit the old castle still is seen a ruin, just 1,400 feet above the water.”
In search of Odysseus
Homer in the Odyssey: “Odysseus for 17 days sailed; on the 18th there came into view the shadowy mountains of the Phaeacian’s country.” He is depicted battling with the surf of a rock-strewn coast without harbour or shelter on his return to Ithaca, 110 km further south. Finally he is swept ashore at the mouth of a river. Where was this? No river enters the sea at Paleokastritsa but a river running across the Ropa Valley enters the sea at Ermones.