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f the asklepion include the ekklesiasterion, which once acted as an assembly hall.
Two amphitheatres provide an evocative glimpse into the site.
Don’t miss heading further downhill from the asklepion to the wonderfully imposing stadium, which is surrounded by the ruins of an enormous gymnasium.
You can buy entry tickets at both the site and the museum.
Sleeping & Eating Likourgos Rooms GUESTHOUSE $ ( 27240 51297; roomslykourgos@yahoo.
gr; d/tr 45/60) If you are taken by the superb vistas and want to stay, try this spacious and comfortable modern option, where the front rooms afford glimpses of the ruins.
The helpful owner, Victoria, speaks some English.
Taverna Ithomi TAVERNA $ ( 27240 51298; www.ithomi.
gr; mains 6-12; lunch & dinner daily Feb-Nov, Sat & Sun only Dec & Jan) Besides a couple of local kafeneia (coffee houses), this is the only eatery in town and offers traditional cuisine.
Friendly owner Nikos is the local ‘man in the know’.
Getting There & Away There are two buses between Ancient Messini/Mavromati and Kalamata (3, one hour, Monday, Wednesday and Friday only), one in the early morning, the other in the afternoon, to a changing schedule.
Check at the Taverna Ithomi.
TOP OF CHAPTER Koroni Κορ?νη POP 1700 Koroni (ko-ro-nih) is a lovely Venetian port town on Messinia Bay, 43km southwest of Kalamata.
Medieval mansions and churches line the town’s quaint, narrow and winding streets.
These lead to a promontory, on which perches an extensive castle and monastery.
Sights & Activities Castle CASTLE Much of the old castle is occupied by the Timios Prodromos Convent.
If open, you can enter (a strict dress code applies).
Note the castle’s impressive Gothic entrance.
The small promontory beyond the castle is a tranquil place for a stroll, with lovely views over the Messinian Gulf to the Ta?getos Mountains.
Zaga Beach BEACH Koroni’s main attraction is Zaga Beach, a long sweep of golden sand just south of the town.
It takes about 20 minutes to walk to here – you can cut through the castle or go via the road.
Ask locals for directions.
Koroni also sees loggerhead turtles, which lay their eggs near Zaga.
Sleeping & Eating Accommodation is a bit limited in Koroni.
Most of the rooms are spread around a cluster of domatia by the sea, at the eastern end of the main street.
There are more domatia overlooking Zaga Beach, but they are often booked out in summer.
Hotel Diana HOTEL $ ( tel/fax 27250 22312; www.dianahotel-koroni.
gr; s/d 30/40; ) This place is blessed (or otherwise) with Byzantine gold-plated bar stools, icons and the like.
Rooms are not quite as glossy – they are simple but adequate.
It’s off the central square, almost on the seafront.
Breakfast costs 5.
Sofotel HOTEL $ ( 27250 22230; www.koroni-holidays.com; d 60; ) Not to everyone’s taste are these modern, gold-trimmed and ornament-filled (if spotless) digs.
Some rooms have balconies.
Camping Koroni CAMPGROUND $ ( 27250 22119; www.koronicamping.com; camp sites per adult/tent & car 8/8; ) Located only 200m from Koroni, near the beach and with good facilities.
Zaga Apartments APARTMENT $$ ( 6973754036, 27250 22722; www.zaga.
gr; Zaga Beach; 2-/4-/6-person apt 70/85/125; 15 May- end Sep; ) Personable apartments with kitchen facilities and balconies and views over Zaga Beach.
Agia Playa TAVERNA $ (Falanthi; mains 6-13; dinner, closed Mon Oct) This pretty place, around 5km from Koroni in Falanthi, is out of a child’s storybook: fountains, vines, plane trees, a stream.
As for the food? Grills and other bites, but you’ll not much care with this setting.
Follow the nymphs – we swear they’re here somewhere.
Information The main street (formal name Perikli Ralli, but few know it) runs east from the central square, one block back from the sea.
There is no tourist office, but the large town map on the cathedral wall shows the location of both banks and the post office ( 7.
30am-2pm Mon-Fri), all of which are nearby.
Getting There & Away Buses will drop you in the central square outside the Church of Agios Dimitrios, one block back from the harbour.
There are five buses daily to Kalamata (5, 1? hours) and one to Athens (27.
Tickets can be bought from the barber shop, near the main square.
TOP OF CHAPTER Methoni Μεθ?νη POP 1169 Methoni (meh-tho-nih), 12km south of Pylos, was another of the seven cities offered to Achilles by Agamemnon.
Homer described it as ‘rich in vines’.
Today it’s a pretty seaside town with a popular beach, next to which crouches a sturdy 15th-century Venetian fortress.
Sights Fortress FORT ( 8am-3pm) This splendid kastro, a great example of military architecture, is vast and romantic.
Within the walls are a Turkish bath, a cathedral, a house, a cistern, parapets and underground passages.
The vast fortification is built on a promontory south of the modern town and is surrounded on three sides by the sea and separated from the mainland by a moat.
The medieval port town, which was located within the fortress walls, was the Venetians’ first, and their longest-held possession, in the Peloponnese.
It was also a stopover for pilgrims en route to the Holy Land.
During medieval times the twin fortresses of Methoni and Koroni were known as ‘the Eyes of the Serene Republic’.
A short causeway leads from the fortress to the diminutive octagonal Bourtzi fortress on an adjacent islet.
Sleeping & Eating Apartments Melina APARTMENT $$ ( 27230 31505; www.methoni-apartments.
gr; studio 60, 2-/3-/4-person apt 70/85/85, 6-person ‘villa’ 100) A gem – immaculate, spacious apartments right across from the beach, with a perfumed garden of roses, vines and palms, and ultrafriendly English-speaking owners, Kathy and Spiros.
Hotel Achilles HOTEL $$ ( 27230 31819; achilleshotel@hotmail.com; s/d 55/70; year-round; ) The smartest of a range of small family hotels in town, with 13 comfortable modern rooms and a pleaseant outdoor terrace.
There’s a light, airy dining area, too.
Breakfast costs 6.
Nonda’s GREEK $ ( 27230 31791; mains 2-8.
50; dinner) Nonda’s is the undisputed king of the castle among locals for souvlaki.
Great grilled meats, too.
Forget the ambience – it’s a sterile, barn-like place – but the generous, fresh portions (plus the best Greek salads) make it worth a visit.
(And -burp- for the record, we heartily agree with those in the know).
Taverna Klimataria TAVERNA $ ( 27230 31544; Miaouli; mains 7-10; lunch & dinner May-Oct) Locals are in agreement: this is the place to head for traditional dishes.
It’s in an old home, with seating on the front porch or in a courtyard.
Typical choices include onion pie and stuffed zucchini flowers.
The treat – a gavros starter – is complimentary.
Information The road from Pylos forks on the edge of town to create Methoni’s two main streets, which then run parallel through town to the fortress.
As you come from Pylos, the fork to the right is the main shopping street.
It has numerous shops, kafeneia, a National Bank of Greece (and ATE Bank ATM) and a nearby supermarket.
The left fork leads directly to the fortress car park, passing the post office ( 7
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