Thursday, 30 April 1863

X6 Medicinally. ― Rose at 5 ― & had to go out instantly. The top of the mountain is all a great mist ― & nothing can be seen. Return to coffee, & after visit to the church &c. ― & waiting some time for the priest, we set off with him at 5.45. Clouds above ― strange gleam of sea & the port of Ithaca peeping thro’ mist. ― Stony ― but broad road, round the S. East side of the mountain, & no remission of cultivation & industry ― vines in every crevice & corner on every level bit of ground[.] ― At 6.45 ― in sight of Ἀνöὶ ― the village ― priest goes on: I draw, among dry gray pointed rocks ― which cover the plain Ἀνöὶ stands on ― corn growing between them. Beyond, in Sta. Maura, is a large fold of woolly cloud. 7.30. Coffee at Γεράσιμος[’] father’s house ― who is working out of doors in the fields. Homely kindly folk ―: beautiful Wallachian carpet. Old stones abound all about Anoi ― & there are various polygonal walls evidently of gt. age: portions of walls in many houses ― & the whole place savours of antique times. (Mule boy keeps getting vetches, from various patches ― but he is of this village & this is his own “κλῆμα”[1] ― says the priest.) Παπᾶς Γ. accompanies me a good way down the “Storks=Roma” road ― (leading to Σταυρι[2] ―) & then returns. An extremely nice fellow ― & speaking excellent Greek ― beautifully.

Road good. Down by the N. East side of M. Νέριτος, & then through a ravine, the sides everywhere worked into terraces. At 9 ― drew Μάρμακα[3] ― the point stretching N.E. of the Island, ― & hence appear the plain of Ἐχοὶ ― & its villages ― all rather miniature yet very pretty. (String of my good Swiss flask came undone ― & flask was broken by fall on stone.[)] By 11. we reached Σταυρὸ, a scattered village, on the highest part of the plain between the 3 hills, Ὀξοὶ, Μάρμακα, & Νέριτος.

House of Κ. Σωτῆρι Μεταξᾶ[4] ― who received me very heartily ― & the Judge ― Πεταλὰ.[5] Coffee ― & promising to be home by 1, go out with G., & a man to shew me Homer’s school. (Rather hurrying this life ― but I have but these 3 days ―) This part of Θιάκι is by far the most beautiful & fertile of the Island. Πόλις[6] ― & its bay, are lovely: vineyards & olives. Steep road, but beautiful views of Sta. Maura & Μάρμακα. Friendly people ― well-dressed woman comes out of a house to shake hands, & πολλὰ ἔτη[7] me, fervently. Very steep pull to the ruins, wh. are of 2 very old temples: ― stones 4 ― to 9 feet long: they look very hoary & aged. The surrounding vegetation beautiful ― particularly the parrot-green-prickly oak. Drew till 12, & returned.

Hearty folk. Talk with Judge Πεταλὰ ― who speaks English well ― & is a gt. friend of the Williams family. Dinner plain & good: ―talked amain as a duty. At 3, set off with G. & guide to Φρίκες[8] & if possible Χιόνι.[9] All this part of Ithaca is exquisitely lovely. The ˇ[little] harbour of Φρίκες is greatly picturesque, but as it grew late I was forced to give up Χιόνι & return. Lovely fields of green wheat!! ― & olives. At 5 ― write this. || ― Walking slowly up this most beautiful valley ― for indeed I never saw a more lovely one, ― I got back to Μεταξὰ’s house at 7 or nearly. They were amazingly kind & hospitable, & reminded me of Calabrian & Abbruzzese days. The valley of Σταυρὸ & the hill of Marmaka ― (wh. divides Sta. Maura & Kalamo on the horizon,) ― the right side one sea of olive & vine, the left with gleams of the blue Mediterranean, ― & the foreground all corn ― is a thing to see.

In Κ. Μεταξὰς wild rough country house all was kindness & welcome, & after a wash I had a long talk with Judge Metaxà. His apparent affection for all the Williams family is touching. ― Read Col. Leake with him till supper ― boiled fish, cold roast lamb & cream cheese, with good wine: cleanly arranged ― & all temperate & pleasant. I wonder sometimes how I keep awake after such walking & work! ― The Judge told me of Γεrάσιμος Παπᾶς when in Moldavia: he always drinks tea ― τζäὶ[10] ― but the common people have that word for whore, & moreover, they have a habit of putting their feet in hot water before operating. So, when the Παπᾶς ordered a kettle of hot water, & then asked in plain terms for a w――e ― they all fell on him & beat him out of the village.

George, today, when, ― Μεταξὰ having proposed to “συντροφεύσει”[11] me to Φρίκες ― I had said I would rather walk alone, ― explained ―

“My master is like one hunting dog ― he looks there & here, & does not go straight, ― he is always looking about as he goes, & cannot attend to anything: ― so you would only be like one log of wood ― & bother would be good for nothing.” ―

 


[1] Vine (NB).

[2] Stavri.

[3] Marmakas.

[4] Mr Sotiris Metaxas (NB).

[5] Petalas.

[6] Polis, i.e. town.

[7] “Longevity,” a greeting (NB).

[8] Frikes.

[9] Chioni.

[10] Τσάι, tea (NB).

[11] Accompany (NB).


[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

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