Category Archives: Roumeli

Roumeli revisited? The Last Transhumance, a documentary film on shepherds


When I heard about this film it immediately made me think of the wonderfully compelling start to Roumeli and the story of the Sarakatsani, transhumance shepherds of Greek origin. This film by Romanian filmmaker and photographer Dragos Lumpan documents some of the last transhumance shepherds in Europe and Turkey. It is a record of something that will possibly completely die out in the next few years. Those Sarakatsani that Paddy mentions have almost all been absorbed into mainstream Greek society and the very first Romanian family that Dragos filmed gave up this lifestyle in 2008. It is interesting to note that despite writing for over forty pages about their origins, way of life, and most famously the details of their wedding ceremony, Roumeli is not directly mentioned in the Wikipedia references or bibliography; something that should perhaps be corrected.

Dragos Lumpan has 100’s of hours of footage from a project that has taken many years to complete, and he is now seeking some additional funding to help with post-producton costs. You may wish to help. Perhaps we can continue Paddy’s work by helping out a little? Dragos explains the importance of the project:

The title of the film wasn’t chosen for the sake of its dramatic sound. These ARE the last transhumances. These people and their way of life are not to be forgotten. Shepherds are strong enough to move mountains, which they actually did. They never back down and they never surrender to any obstacle. This is how they made their way into our history and this is how the history must remember them. The importance of this project goes beyond its artistic value. This film will be the last record of one of the things that shaped our history, out culture and ultimately our humanity.

The shepherds who still walk for hundreds and hundreds of miles in search of available pastures for their animals sleep outside most of the year, usually around their flocks protecting it.  They live in a parallel world not because they reject the modern times but because they embrace tradition. But the ones who still do it are fewer and fewer. The film will show the yearly cycle of life within these communities, showing their direct connection with nature cycle, with the astronomical calendar and with the people around them.

Transhumance represents a cultural heritage that has moulded for centuries the cultural landscape. Nowadays, transhumance is replaced by sedentary forms of sheep breeding. In many regions it is already extinct. The disappearing of transhumance affects not only the spiritual, social and cultural life, but also the mountain regions’ biodiversity.

To assist you can visit the Indiegogo page here. There are many rewards to those that can offer even modest amounts and a second movie trailer.

Dragos also has a website about the project with a number of photographs.

Advertisements

Remote places and landscapes in Greece – Walks in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor: Part 10

The last of Christian Peter’s walks. In my view you can’t go wrong if your walk involves visiting a monastery. I would like to thank Christian for all the work he put into this series. I am sure that he would welcome your feedback and comments in the Comments section below.

10  . Patmos

One of the most impressive and intense places in Greece for me is the atrium of the Monastery Agios Ioannis o Theologos in Patmos . The Monastery of St. John the Divine is a fortified Orthodox monastery dominating the highest part of the Chora of the island. It was and continues to be one of the most important monasteries in Greece.  Its interior is like a  muli-leveled building complex with  interior courtyards, colonnades and narrow corridors. From time to time Paddy used to live in monasteries for a while. In the introduction of his monastery-book “A Time to Keep Silence“ (1957) he describes longer visits to Wandrille de Fontanelle, La Grande Trappe and the monasteries of Cappadocia, but also mentions that he has visited all the important monasteries of the Greek word. You can about his visits to Mount Athos and monasteries of Meteora, and I am pretty sure he has been to Patmos.

Remote places and landscapes in Greece – Walks in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor: Part 9

The ninth of Christian Peter’s walks and still in the Dodecanese.

9.     Astypalaia /Dodecanese

Situated between the Cyclades and the Dodecanese the “forgotten” island of Astypalaia  is even today calm and traditional.  Having the form of a butterfly a small band of land of only 200 meters separates the island into two sections: Exo Nisi and Mesa Nisi.  A day-long hike over the entire island starting in Chora ( Exo Nisi) brings you to the remote, almost abandoned village of Exo Vathy (Mesa Nisi). Only a few people live here leading a very simple and traditional island life as fisherman and farmer. One old couple runs a tavern.

Remote places and landscapes in Greece – Walks in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor: Part 8

The eighth of Christian Peter’s walks.

8.     The “Italian Road” from Pothia to Vathi – Kalymnos

Paddy must have widely been travelling the Dodecanese, as he was so obsessed by pebbelstone mosaics. The islands of the Dodecanese offer a great variety of fantastic pebblestone mosaics. Nearly every old church has one  and the Kalymnian capital of  Pothia has one of the largest and most beautiful. Recently Kalymnos became a world class destination for rock climbers, but there are a number of wonderful walks on the island, too. The best known one is the walk on the old Italian Road (Italikós drómos) from the vibrant city of Pothia into the fertile valley of Vathys. Those who really want to follow Paddy’s footsteps  should visit Kalymnos for Easter celebrations. What you will find to happen in the streets of and on the mountains around  Pothia on those days is really Paddy-like: The local people like to celecrate the holy days with dynamite, this is why during those days people tend to call their island the “Aegean Afghanistan”.

Remote places and landscapes in Greece – Walks in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor: Part 7

Back to Crete for the seventh walk in Christian Peter’s series.

7.     From Sougia to Agia Roumeli – Crete

a.       One of the wildest and most difficult walks on Crete is the one along the coastline  between Sougia and Agia Roumeli. But it is rewarding as it offers not only a great variety of natural beauties, but also access to the Gorge of Tripiti which as “a clandestine landing point for the whole of the area” played a major role during the occupation. In his book “The Stronghold” Xan Fielding describes it  as “a needle-narrow opening in the littoral  ramparts, which travelers until recently believed to be inaccessible  except by sea” (p. 55). The Tripiti gorge marks the border between the provinces of Selino and Sfakiá and offers insights into the “highland labyrinth” above Koustogerako which during WW II “was probably the only habitable area in the whole of Crete  which could have sheltered in safety such a vast clandestine concourse as ours had been (Xan Fielding; Hide and Seek, p. 167).

Remote places and landscapes in Greece – Walks in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor: Part 6

The sixth of Christian Peter’s walks.

6.     From Christos Raches to Manganitis  – Ikaría

This unknown, but astonishing walk starts in the mountain village of Xristos Raches in Western Ikaria. The day long walk first heads towards the high plateau of Ammoudia from where you follow a steep, but paved kalderimi into the fishermen´s village of Manganitis.  As Ikaría even today does not have too much tourism, walking on the island still feels like the expedition into the everyday island life of former times .

Remote places and landscapes in Greece – Walks in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor: Part 5

The fifth of Christian Peter’s walks. I hope that you are enjoying this; the scenery is stunning.

5. Amorgos/Cyclades

a. The longest hike on the Cycladic island of Armogos is also the most beautiful. The old connection between the main island villages of Chora in the Island centre and Aigiáli in the North is a one day walk on old, partly paved paths with fantastic bird eye views upon the whole island. Along the way lies the monastery of Chozoviótissa which is among the most important monasteries of the Aegean Sea.