First walk of 2016..

Good morning people..!

First of all HAPPY NEW YEAR!! 2 years ago we were saying goodbye to 2013 from Mount Parnitha and the Mpafi shelter,  this time we decided to welcome 2016 from the Flampouri shelter and a totally different point of view of Athens!

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We visited again the abandoned Sanatorium..

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With Jenna, Sergios, Nikos, Sotiris and Elina at Park of Souls..

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Golden hour over the Saronic Gulf..

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photos © chrysoula papagianni

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Tuscany part 4 : Pienza..

Last week I visited one of my favorite places in Tuscany, Pienza!

The town of Pienza is situated in the province of Siena, and more specifically in the Val d’Orcia (val = valley). In 1996, UNESCO declared the town a World Heritage Site, and in 2004 the entire valley, the Val d’Orcia, was included on the list of UNESCO‘s World Cultural Landscapes. Val d’Orcia is definitely my favorite part of Tuscany and I intend to visit (or walk if I can) the most of it!

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Pienza was rebuilt from a village called Corsignano, which was the birthplace (1405) of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (Italian: Enea Silvio Piccolomini), aRenaissance humanist born into an exiled Sienese family, who later became Pope Pius II. Once he became Pope, Piccolomini had the entire village rebuilt as an ideal Renaissance town. Intended as a retreat from Rome, it represents the first application of humanist urban planning concepts, creating an impetus for planning that was adopted in other Italian towns and cities and eventually spread to other European centers.

The rebuilding was done by Florentine architect Bernardo Gambarelli (known as Bernardo Rossellino) who may have worked with the humanist and architectLeon Battista Alberti, though there are no documents to prove it for sure. Alberti was in the employ of the Papal Curia at the time and served as an advisor to Pius. Construction started about 1459. Pope Pius II consecrated the Duomo on August 29, 1462, during his long summer visit. He included a detailed description of the structures in his Commentaries, written during the last two years of his life. (source)

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This is the route me, Enrico, Lorenzo, Nikos and Robert followed from Pienza into the “wild” countryside by foot!

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I think these walks in Tuscany are what i’ll miss  the most when i’m back to Greece.. (Thanks to Nikos for the photo of me below!)

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photos © chrysoula papagianni

A sanatorium, deers, a shelter and goodbye 2013..

Goodmorning last day of 2013!

My very first post was from Florence and this one, my 119th and last for this year,  is from my beautiful Athens and Mount Parnitha. Parnitha is the highest mountain on the peninsula of Attica, with an elevation of 1,413 m, and a summit known as Karavola. The Mont Parnes Casino, is located near the top of the mountain, and is the first casino to open in Greece. Two shelters are also located on Parnitha, Mpafi and Flampouri. In 1961 the entire mountain (250 km²) was declared a National Park and on 2007 suffered extensive damages from a wildfire which burned approximately 56 km² of land.

Last Sunday we decided to visit the Mpafi shelter and on our way there we stopped at the old Sanatorium of Parnitha and the Park of Souls. The Sanatorium was built in 1914 for tuberculosis patients and shutted down in 1960. Then for a few years it operated as Xenia Hotel and now is totally abandoned. The remarkable poet Yiannis Ritsos was a patient there and during his hospitalization wrote the famous poem “Spring Symphony”. The internet is full of “paranormal activity” references, and the fact is you can find more “ghost hunters investigations” than informations about the architectural value of the building. I won’t lie, I was totally frightened by the idea of this abandoned place, lying there in the middle of the mountain alone. Well this time I entered only in the entrance hall in the light of day so there was nothing scary about it. I could never go there during the night but I definitely want to go back and visit the whole building room by room. 

Just across the road lies the Park of Souls, an outdoor exhibition in memory of those who suffered in the Sanatorium.The exhibition consists of twenty amazing sculptures, carved from burnt logs from the Parnitha fire in 2007, with a height of not more than 4.5 meters.

On the way to the Mpafi shelter if you are lucky, as we were, you may come across deers and approach them! Finally reaching the shelter you can enjoy your coffee with a breathtaking view.

I’m wishing you a happy new year!!

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“We love the earth, the human beings and the animals, the reptiles, the sky and the insects.
We are, we too are all these together, together the sky and the earth too.”

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photos © chrysoula papagianni

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