Tsakonia –a piece of land marching to the beat of a different tune


Talking with the Ancient Near the southeastern tip of Arcadia, in a fertile valley at the roots of the imposing Mount Parnon and a short

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Talking with the Ancient

Near the southeastern tip of Arcadia, in a fertile valley at the roots of the imposing Mount Parnon and a short distance from the shores of the Myrtoan Sea, lies Leonidio, one of the oldest maritime towns in Greece. It was once the capital of Tsakonia -a region comprising several villages and hamlets distinguished for their Doric-derived dialect and equally age-old customs reverently preserved to the present day. The Tsakonian Dance, to name but one, performed by men, women and children alike, has crossed the centuries with its spiraling and serpentine formations remaining unchanged. Possibly an ancient sacred dance, it is nowadays a symbol of the deeply-felt local identity.

The people of Leonidio are proud of their heritage and this is evident as soon as you enter the town, where signposts are written in the Tsakonian dialect, with the Modern Greek translation below. An exquisite scent of geraniums, honeysuckles and lemon trees coming off the gardens flows in the picturesque alleys of the town. Beautifully renovated manor houses and towers dating to before 1800, and neoclassical buildings from the 19th century have earned Leonidio a protected status as a traditional village of historical importance and stand as a testimony to the will of local seafaring merchants to maintain a connection to their place of birth.

Home to the celebrated Eggplant

Leonidio is equally famous for an unusual, sweet variety of eggplant grown in the surrounding fertile plain -the PDO-certified “Tsakonian eggplant”. It is skinny with thin violet and white stripes and locals prepare it in a myriad of ways: stuffed, broiled, fried, baked with cheese, puréed, as a pizza topping, in spaghetti sauce, wrapped in crispy filo pastry, as a marmalade and candied baby eggplant in a syrup made with warm spices and almonds. So precious is this local crop that it has its own festival, called Melitzazz (a word formed by the combining of the words eggplant and jazz in Greek). On this festive occasion, local cooks prepare on the spot and serve under the sounds of jazz music delicious dishes based entirely on this vegetable.

The Easter custom of the Balloons

The celebration of Easter in Leonidio is unique in color and a source of devoutness and excitement alike. On the night of Easter Saturday, locals and visitors gathered in the central square of the town wait impatiently for the big moment: at midnight, under the chants of “Christos Anestis” (Christ is risen) and amid fireworks in the sky, five to six hundred handmade hot air balloons (i.e. about one balloon per house) are released above the water and slowly fill the sky with their sparkling light. Tradition has it that, no matter what the weather conditions are, calmness takes over and only a gentle western wind blows, strong just enough to allow the balloons to reach for the stars.

Tsakonian Villages

Pragmatefti, Sabatiki, Livadi, Pera Melana, Tyros, Sapounakaiika, Agios Andreas, Prasto, Kastanitsa and Sitaina, as well as the hamlets of Fouska and Vaskina… a string of villages dotting this captivating Arcadian area, perpetuating and enriching its unique character.

Tyros, boasting a colorful local community of Germans, Belgians, Austrians, Dutch, Danish, British and Greeks who restored the old houses of the village; Kastanitsa, with its characteristic stone-built houses and chestnut forest, located in a region hosting 16 plant species unique in the world; Pera Melana with the celebration of the honey festival; Prasto with the feast of the Archangels; Sabatiki with its fishermen’s festival…

Blue Mosaic invites you to celebrate the beauties of this unique region with our fine Villas set within striking distance (Villa Starlett, Villa Negroni, Villa Daiquiri).