Located in the scenic village of Logothetianika, this exquisitely restored 19th century traditional home is surrounded by fields of olive and fig trees and with views of the sea. Your host, the Greek painter Evita Frantzola, has taken great care to create a home where you can experience this unique atmosphere in style and comfort.
The property has been in her family since 1789. Built to withstand the rough conditions of 19th century village life, it has an austere beauty with thick stone walls, small windows and a graceful arched ceiling on the ground floor that cradles a massive fireplace. Evita has brought her artistic eye to restoring this jewel of vernacular architecture using stylish modern furnishings and décor to enhance but never overpower the inherent beauty of the space.
The ground floor forms the core of the original structure. This level has a monastery style bathroom, one bedroom, a cozy living room with a large fireplace equipped for indoor cooking, and a fully equipped kitchen that opens onto a large terrace and garden. Surrounded by 60-centimeter-thick walls that keep the building cool in summer and warm in winter you will want to settle in for many hours reading or just relaxing.
Upstairs is the very private master bedroom suite that opens onto a large deck with sweeping views of the village, countryside and sea. With high ceilings and large windows, the room is flooded with Kythera’s magical light.
The home offers the best indoor-outdoor living and maintains the balance between a cultivated garden and Kythera’s wild nature. Both floors open onto large terraces where you can barbeque or sip your morning coffee. The home itself is set on 4,000 square meters of land planted with fruit and olive trees and a garden dense with roses, jasmine and many other flowers. Depending on the time of year, there may be sheep grazing in the fields beyond, their bells chiming in the wind.
Kythera: A Magical Island
Before packing your suitcases for Kythera it’s worth bearing in mind a few things about the island. First, this is a journey that many before you have dreamed of taking to the destination that has inspired many poets and artists. The Comte de Bougainville even chose to give the name Nouvelle Cythère – New Kythera – to the island that he discovered in far-off Tahiti.
Let’s start from the things that were known from the time of Hesiod’s Theogony, when, so the myth goes, Ourania Aphrodite was born from the foaming waves of Kythera, on the east coast of the island, from the ripped genitalia of Uranus. The goddess then travelled to Paphos in Cyprus, having first taken this infertile island under her protection. Beaten by its constant winds and its seas because was located at the point where the waves of sea-battered Cavo Malia clash with those of Tainaro, at the gates of Acheron, where they meet the open sea of Crete.
The locals say that mischievous Aphrodite is behind the the low clouds that often blanket the island in a glowing light and give an aura of unreality to the ruins -- feeding the fantasies of those who see the souls of the dead running down the valleys like little lights. The goddess summoned the clouds so she could hide from the eyes of the other gods whenever she retreats to her beloved island to enjoy one of her forbidden loves.
After continuous conquests, raids and desertions during the dark Middle Ages, Kythera once more came to the fore in early-18th-century France. This was the era of the Enlightenment, when Antoine Watteau painted “The Embarkation for Cythera,” a work that shows embracing couples kissing tenderly, lying within a wondrous landscape, with chubby winged gods flying in the air all around them, clearly influenced by the myth of Aphrodite’s birth on the island. The painting symbolizes the journey to the ideal place of love, where we can all live our dreams, without limitations and condemnation.
This initiated Kythera’s popularity among Europeans, although the island is completely unrelated to Watteau’s fantasies. During this period the Kythera was living its own drama of abandonment, poverty, and exploitation by pirates, conquerors and privileged nobles. The travelers who came to the island in the 19th century were disappointed when faced with the reality, giving pessimistic reports about the island that tarnished the myth created by Watteau of a carefree, pleasure-seeking utopia.
But nothing could completely destory the island’s aura since it was created, it seems, by the goddess of love herself. So Kythera has endured as the symbol of the impossible, of unrequited love and an elusive paradise. The echo of this allegory, from the lightness of Watteau to the doubts of Voltaire and the lyricism of Baudelaire and Verlaine, has come down to us through the wonderful song by Katsaros–Lyberopoulos, “We will never find Kythera” and, of course, in Theodoros Angelopoulos’s wonderful film “Voyage to Cythera.”
The best way to enjoy the special atmosphere of the island, which is always under the influence of Aphrodite’s whims is to relax and give yourself over to its subtle and watery charms. Let the island guide you and you will find yourself in contact with many mysteries of this mythical place that has remained little changed over the centuries.
Kythera is the powerful northwest wind that grabs the smoke from the chimneys, the huge waves at Agia Pelagia, the tropical beach at Diakofti, the small Byzantine chapels, the refreshing springs at Karavas, the waterfalls of Mylopotamos, the precipices of eerie Paleochora destroyed by pirates in 1500. It is the rising moon from the castle of Hora, the rakis and mezes on Sundays at the bazaar in Potamos and drinking “iron water” from a well with only hawks for company.
Unlike many other Greek islands, Kythera chooses her visitors very selectively. As a welcomed guest you may find yourself rediscovering a part of your soul, and just as so many others before you, falling in love with the island, idiosyncrasies and all.
--Adapted from “In Search of Kythera and Antikythera” by Tzeli Hadjidimitriou