The main road from Kardamyli to Kalamata takes you through some lovely villages, most visitors don’t stop but there are missing out. Just off from the main road there are delightful beaches, quiet villages, wonderful walks and views, churches and empty castles.
Drive through the very narrow streets of Stavropigi up the hill and if you are lucky you may find yourself at the path which leads up to the castle.
The Byzantine castle has a tower which is in pretty good condition but its only occupant was a slightly worried goat when we stuck our heads in. Zoodochos Pigi Church is hidden next to the castle but sadly it was locked when we tried the door.
It’s easy to whizz pass Kambos but the church here is delightful and we like the cafe on the square which mainly caters for the locals. There is no menu and the lady owner who speaks very little English is happy to show what food she has available in the kitchen. There is limited choice but it is always traditional, delicious and much cheaper than in Stoupa. Perfect for lunch after climbing into a Tholos Tomb [see below].
The little Church called Agii Theodoroi on the main road looks like a typical Byzantine church and has beautiful frescos on the inside.
As you leave Kambos to the south it’s worth parking the car on a gravel area on the bend and walking back on the main road to explore the ruined tower and Tholos Tomb. There is an unmarked path on the left as you head back down the road that will take you there. The ruins used to belong to the family of the ex Prime Minister; Alexandros Koumoundouros and his statue stands proudly next to it.
You can’t see the Tholos Tomb until you are right up to it. It is fenced in, I presume to prevent visitors falling into it, but you can sneak under the fence at one point and carefully clamber down. I did just that and got a bit scratched in the process but managed to get right into the tomb by hanging onto the wire fence for dear life. So it goes without saying you should not attempt this, silly idea.
There is a pleasant detour if you take the road out of Kambos past their main church which is at the back of the village up the hill.
The road takes a loop through the mountains past Kendro and skirts the Rintomo Canyon until you end up in Prosilio near the main coast road.
We have driven past Prosilio with it’s prominent church standing proud so many times we decided to have a closer look. The church is indeed lovely but sadly locked on our visit. The views from the village down to the coast were lovely.
You can drive on the old road across the gorge which is deteriorating but is still passable with care. The Gorge is a great place to explore and there are some dramatic paths but possibly not a good idea in the extreme heat of the summer.
Kitries, on the coast was another place recommended to me by Marjory McGinn. You can get there by taking the turning off the main road at Stavropigi or if coming from the North there is a pleasant coast road as you leave Kalamata. It’s the perfect place to relax, eat, drink and swim. However at the weekend the tranquility can be replaced by huge crowds of daytrippers and the road to Kitries from Kalamata becomes one long car park, not so nice.
Just beyond the village of Sotirianika on the top top of a hill is the 19th Century Kapetanakis Castle. The walls and towers are in pretty good condition.
There is a tomb by the entrance to the castle which is slightly ajar. I peeked in and there was clearly a human skull inside as well as some plastic cups- some people have no respect.
In the castle grounds there is a small church which was locked but a shutter was open and I was able to peek inside.
The views of the Taygetos mountains on one side and overlooking Kalamata on the other are wonderful.