Ready for the off…

Days 4 and 5 of the Summer project

We’re off again soon, on our way to a Greek island again. (Crete, in fact.)  Knowing that wifi is a bit erratic, well, FREE wifi can be and I’m too cheap to consider paying for it, I thought I’d write a post in advance so that, while we are away, all I have to do is my Challenge tile, pop it in and post it. (Not quite that simple, of course. Being less than skilled with the internet and blogging, I have to get my daughter back in the UK to attach it to the linky thing on the Diva website/blog, as I’ve never worked out how to do that bit from my tablet.)

We’ve been there before and it is so lovely that we are going back. We will be staying in the small village of Piskopiano. I translated this from the Greek as musical fish but apparently that’s not the case. Shame really, it has a whimsical charm. This is what I found out about the place:

traditional house in piskopiano

Piskopiano and its history

Piskopiano seems to have been founded in the Middle Ages, when pirate raids drove people away from the coast to seek the safety of the hills, far from the sea.

The first mention of the village was in 1379, when it was part of the bishopric of Hersonissos (casale Piscopiano de Chersonisso). In 1583 it appears again as a small village of 111 inhabitants.

Later the Turks succeeded the Venetians, and in the first census they held, in 1671, the village had 15 taxable Christian families. This information is drawn from the historian Stergios Spanakis, whom everybody plagiarises but almost nobody acknowledges.

Today Piskopiano belongs to Hersonissos Municipality and has 450 inhabitants. The wave of tourism that spread out from the coast from the 1950s onwards has brought about great changes to all the villages. Old buildings have been restored and turned into hotels, not always in the traditional style, and the inhabitants have abandoned farming for tourism.

Unfortunately, it has proved impossible to discover any other information on the development of the village through the ages. Piskopiano, here for so many centuries, must have its own history. We hope that in future we will find the right sources or meet the right people to tell us more about it.

Sights in Piskopiano

The most important sight in Piskopiano is the village itself. Leave the main street and wander round the narrow streets, looking for the old houses still standing. If you see a sign to the Piskopiano Museum, ignore it because the Museum is no longer there (there is information that it will reopen in 2010).

I wonder if the museum did reopen…

We stayed in the next village last time we were there, a slightly bigger place than Piskopiano called Koutouloufari. It took me all week to be able to pronounce it. It’s up the hill from the seaside resort of Hersonissos, with glorious views out to sea. Now, although we will spend a fair amount of time on the beach and in the sea – or by the pool- we will spend each evening strolling through the three local villages, carefully selecting which taverna to eat in and breathing in the lovely herbal smells that drift through the air.

We also intend to visit Elounda and Spinalonga this time, if we can. The island of Spinalonga was, until not that long ago, a leper colony and its story, well, that of its inhabitants really, is heartrending.

The island was subsequently used as a leper colony from 1903 to 1957. It is notable for being one of the last active leper colonies in Europe. The last inhabitant, a priest, left the island in 1962. 

Not my own photo but I’m reliably informed this is what it looks like.

There were two entrances to Spinalonga, one being the lepers’ entrance, a tunnel known as “Dante‘s Gate”. This was so named because the patients did not know what was going to happen to them once they arrived. However, once on the island they received food, water, medical attention and social security payments. Previously, such amenities had been unavailable to Crete’s leprosy patients, as they mostly lived in the area’s caves, away from civilization.

There are books about it, both fact and fiction and none of them make for a happy read, as you can imagine, but they do reflect the strength and resilience of the human spirit.  So Spinalonga is on the list. We’ve done Knossos in the past and it is fascinating but annoying too. It’s fascinating for all the reasons you might expect and is an amazing glimpse into the Bronze Age and before. There is evidence to suggest that legends like that of the Minotaur had elements of truth before becoming Greek myths. But the man who excavated the site was a tad individualistic in his methods, restoring what he thought it would probably have looked like rather than always supporting it with real evidence. Nevertheless, it’s truly fascinating and well worth a visit. BUT, if you go, go in the morning. Temperatures soar as the day wears on and there is no shade, none, zero, nothing. And take water with you too, if you want to survive the visit.

Days 6 and 7. You will note that I went for a simpler background this time

There are other glorious sites to visit on the island, but whether we see them this time or not will depend on the heat and how tempted we are by the sea and the joys of snorkelling.

I’ve been keeping up with the tangling for the Summer Project so far, although I had a laugh at my own expense. I had deliberately chosen bijou tiles because they are small and I didn’t want to take on something that would prove to be too much. So why, I ask myself, did I start doing acres of patterning on the pages themselves?  ‘Cos I’m daft, that’s why.

Anyway, I’m trying to get myself under control and frame the tiles with something a bit simpler from now on. Doh!

So the Diva Challenge is next  and this week she asks us to use the tangle Dansk, by Margaret Bremner. It coincides with the need for a floral tile for the Summer Project, so I’ve combined the two. It’s on a bijou tile, so very small. 

So that’s all for now. The case is all but packed, the passports and tickets have been checked and double checked. Wheeeee!

Until I speak to you from across the water, be good world. (Well, as always, good-ish)



6 thoughts on “Ready for the off…

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