Following the Messinian coastline, from “Verga” Kalamatas to “Kalamata”, “Koroni” and further south, within beautiful Mediterranean landscapes and beautiful beaches, you have the chance to experience Messinia’s sites with rich history, traditional architecture and wonderful beaches. The road follows the coastline, sometimes closer or further away from the sea, passing through endless olive groves that produce the famous Messinian olive oil and quiet villages with low-lying tourist development (except for the most touristic “Petalidi”). First stop as planned is “Koroni”, then the sandy “Finikounda” and finally “Methoni”, with the Messinian “Oinousses” islands just opposite the town in the gulf. And among them, hidden, unexplored corners for the most active traveler.
The road from “Koroni’s Castle” to that of “Methoni’s” leads you from the Messinian Gulf to the Ionian Sea. The tourist infrastructure in the area now seems to start evolving. The poor condition of the road that is definitely delaying you is a problem. The driving time of 1.40’ from Kalamata to Methoni is definitely estimable!
Take the left exit on the road after “Nea Koroni”. Arriving at the amphitheater of “Koroni” start the tour of the castle still inhabited today. A most elegant example of Venetian fortress architecture and one of the few castles where houses and temples are preserved inside it, the castle of “Koroni” dominates with its imposing volume at the southern end of the Messinian Gulf. It was built by the Venetians in the 13th century and was reinforced by the Ottomans in the 16th century.
Walk in whitewashed alleys with old mansions, decorated with impressive roses on their balconies and courtyards with geraniums and enjoy the view from the upper breathtaking neighborhoods. Buy local products: olive oil, honey, olives, mizithra cheese, noodles …. Going down to the harbor, the taverns with the octopuses that are lit in the row will whet your appetite. If you feel like taking a swim, the long sandy beach of “Memi” or “Zaga” to the west, on the way to “Finikounda”, is the best option, with its salt cedar trees, a camping site and beach volley courts.
Back to the road leading to “Finikounda”, heading first to the port of “Finikounda”. A popular choice by families with infrastructure (rooms, taverns, shops) and a sandy beach in front of the settlement! Taste local dishes in “Elena”. It’s a fish tavern on a hill with a view and fresh fish, nicely cooked (Finikounda, tel:2723071235). The long beach of Mavrovouni ( low profile), quiet with a nice beach bar / tavern (“Mytilini”) and a surfing center was our choice for a swim. A little further, on the way to “Methoni, you pass by the “Lampes” beach (a more youthful one) Both big and organized beaches at least in a part of them.
In the past years, visitors had a choice of taking a cruise around the Messinian Oinouses islands on a boat. It was sailing to “Sapientza” Island with the stone lighthouse and the strawberry trees’ forest but also kri kris, partridges, mouflons(sheep) and others, but also to the islands of “Schiza” and “Agia Mariani”, all included in the Natura Network. We didn’t check into it, just read it in a guide book. Ask at “Finikounda” or “Methoni” if you are up to it!
Off to “Methoni”! Our incentive was the visit to its famous Venetian castle. Built in the early 13th century on a rocky peninsula, it is one of the largest in the Mediterranean, with the early Christian granite column (“Morozini column”), the Turkish baths, Ibrahim’s house, the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior, as well as a mosque and a Catholic church. No words about the dazzling view of the Ionian sea and “Oinousses” islands! Through the sea gate you reach “Bourtzi” , the last two-storey and octagonal tower of the castle, a place of prison and executions once. The impressive entrance, a stone bridge with 14 arches, the imposing gate of the castle decorated with reliefs -the built-in lion of St. Mark standing out, (being a symbol of Venice) – impress the visitors! Tracks, coats of arms, inscriptions, Venetian rulers’ ruins, relics of two Ottoman baths and bastions are just some of the castle’s attractions. (Open daily, except Mondays, 08.30-15.00, tel:2721022534).
More about the two castles of Methoni and Koroni,
Methoni has a small beach right at the feet of the castle and beyond its pier, but it is also quite narrow and too close to the road. This area has not yet been developed and you have to drive on dirt roads. See on map: https://firstname.lastname@example.org,21.7108142,1411m/data=!3m1!1e3
Where to eat! Find the “Klimataria” tavern (tel: 2723031544) and enjoy its delicacies in the paved courtyard under a huge arbor.
If you choose this route, leave the visit to “Finikounda” at the end and combine it with swimming and eating. The castles are only open in the morning (and until 15.00) and you will not have time for the visit otherwise. Water and a hat are necessary if it is a summer month. The areas are in the south and are really hot especially during July-August.