The name of the house, Tou Panou, translates roughly as 'Pano's House'. The story begins in August 2012, when my husband Pano and I were on holiday in Greece with our children Helena and George, then aged 18 and 15, and visited Kardamyli for the first time. We fell in love with it, and thus began a five-year search for a property in the village. At last, in 2017, we were shown the house belonging to the Mantagaris family that was eventually to become Tou Panou. It was perfect: at last, our search was at an end! Dream come true. Or so we thought...
Later that same year, Pano was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He died in 2019.
He may no longer be with us, but his memory lives on, in this house.
Πάντα, πάντα, περνάς τη φωτιά για να φτάσεις τη λάμψη
Always, always, you pass through fire to reach the shining
- Odysseus Elytis, To Axion Esti
The names of the suites
Pano's parents came from the Sparti region. Mystras, about eight kilometres outside of Sparti, was the capital of the Byzantine province of Morea during the 14th and 15th centuries. High up on Mount Taygetus, it is no longer inhabited except for its monastery. It is about a two-hour drive from Kardamyli and well worth a visit!
Skoura is the village where Pano's mother grew up. Unlike Mystras it is not a tourist destination, just a quiet agricultural community that has changed very little over the years. There is still a house there belonging to the family.
During the hot summer months, Pano's family would relocate up into the hills where there was plenty of grass for the sheep to graze. Their home there, in the tiny village of Varvitsa, is very modest, but the views are glorious.
history of the house
The oldest part of the house itself was built in the 1950s, by a local fisherman (though the separate apothiki, or store room, dates from the late19th century). An extension and a second floor were added later. The sink in the courtyard is original: it is where clothes would have been washed. A hand-painted sign advertises the family's 'ΟΙΝΟΠΑΝΤΑΠΩΛΕΙΟΝ', which translates as 'wine and everything shop'. In the entrance hall, I have kept a log book from the 1970s, which is fascinating! And also a traditional wide-brimmed Maniot hat, a very rare find these days. A portrait of Mr & Mrs Mantagaris can be found in the kitchen.