Blessed with an amazing landscape, with mountains, canyons, caves and gorges tying with forests, olive groves, stunning beaches, bays and islets, Mani covers a wide range of outdoor activities, from hiking to water sports. And to make up for the lost calories, the fertile and prosper land of Messinia produces dozens of fine products: from the famous throughout the world Kalamata olives and olive oil, to figs, raisins, wine, vegetables and citrus fruits. The first references to the cultivation of olive trees in the area date from the time of Homer’s King Nestor; the history of its vineyards is lost in the mists of time and figs was the favorite dessert of the ancient Greeks .
From walking on cobbled paths, crossing gorges (choose among Rintomos, Viros, Noupanti, Stepeni), ascending Mount Taygetos and hiking at Vasiliki Forest, Peloponnese in general and Mani in particular, is the place to hike!
The short distances between the villages and the area’s mild traffic make the bike perfect for exploring – discover the authentic Mani, through unexplored routes.
The water sports, fascinating scuba-diving and snorkeling open a whole new window of opportunity for exploring the region’s marine life. The waters are warm and crystal clear and the images unparalleled. In Stoupa beach, there are canoes, pedal boats and motor boats for hire while for the fans of sailing, the nearest organized marinas are the ones in Gytheio tel.27330-22262 and Kalamata tel.27210-22051 and 27210-22218.
Look for the sign ‘Paragliding’ in Upper (Ano) Verga, near Kalamata, so called because of the paragliders who flock there for the sport.
Mani is home to some of the most fascinating caves in Greece: from the Cave of Diros- one of the most beautiful lacustrine caves in the world – to Tourkospilia, the three –storey cave Katafyggi and the pit-cave of 8m. depth on top of Mount Taygetos.
The rich land of Messinia supports an exceptional agricultural diversity, offering exceptional products, such as PDO extra virgin olive oil -100% natural product and international leader; PDO Kalamata olives – Messinia’s ambassadors in the world ; aromatic plants and herbs growing on Taygetos; excellent quality wines from local as well as international varieties; traditional Greek spirits such as ouzo, raki, and liqueur from lemon, sour orange and rose, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla; traditional balsamic vinegar from grape; honey from aromatic plants of Taygetos; mustard with olive oil, herbs, balsamic and honey; black Corinthian currants; figs dried naturally in the sun; the -known since the time of Herodotus for being invigorating -pasteli (nougat candy); the white cheeses sfela and talagani; wheat flour or barley rusks; the famous dough fritters called lalangia; the delicious pork preserved in salt with orange called pasto; orange-flavored sausages; as well as pieces of smoked pork flavored with spices (syglino).
The olive and its oil define the table here, although the cuisine is perfumed by the region’s rich agricultural products. Some of the best meals are those made in pot, such as the stew of dried beans and greens; meat with rustic style potatoes cooked in tomato sauce; rustic rooster with traditional homemade noodles called hylopites, etc. Other favorites are: Black-eyed beans simmered with spinach; salad with orange flesh sliced rustic style, black Kalamata olives and olive oil; a simple omelet called kayianas with tomatoes and cured pork; as well as the famous gourounopoula, Kalamata’s whole piglet spit roasted with crispy crust. Even in the pastry traditions of Mani olive oil is an important ingredient, used to fry the classic wedding sweet, diples – the folded, deep fried curls drizzled with generous amounts of honey and sprinkled with walnuts, and cinnamon –, the classic dough fritters called koutalides, as well as the petoula or plakotiganites, the pancakes sprinkled with grated cheese.