Saturday, May 20, 2017

Citta dei Nicliani ~ Hidden Treasure in the Deep Mani

A full moon was beginning its twilight climb. A chilly breeze rattled the leaves.The cries of the jackals echoed across the broad expanse of rangeland that linked us to the sea. As we sipped wine on our room’s small terrace overlooking the stone courtyard, I gave thanks for eavesdropping.

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Moon rising at hotel Citta Dei Nicliani - Peloponnese
Had it not been for eavesdropping on a conversation in a local village cafe a year or so ago we may never have found the hotel Citta dei Nicliani because even after nearly a decade of operation it remains somewhat a hidden treasure in the area of the Peloponnese known as ‘the Deep Mani'.

The Deep Mani is a vast, lightly-populated area with scattered small villages – some now deserted -  and some which were first written about by Homer. Its a rugged land with a rugged history; wars, feuds and piracy. It is the Land of the Towers, but that topic is deserving of another post on another day. . .
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The Inner Mani - Greece Peloponnese
. .extensive wine list. . .great dinner. . .unbelievable breakfast. . .luxurious accommodations

‘Excuse me,’ I recall saying to the man seated near us, ‘We couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. Where is this place??’

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Courtyard view of the reception/lounge/dining area
Turns out this hidden gem is only an hour’s drive south of our Stone House on the Hill but still we didn't get around to experiencing its charms firsthand until a couple of weeks ago.

Its name Citta dei Nicliani, its Italian for ‘city of the Nicliani’ a clan of strong people who populated the area during the Ottoman rule. They are said to have written an Italian duke seeking help in opposing that Ottoman rule – and got it. The original tower on the property, a restored centerpiece of the hotel was built in 1750.

Charms of the Citta dei Nicliani

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View from inside the lounge/reception area Citta dei Nicliani
It was through the imagination and hard work of an Athens family: Ilias and Tanya Sepsas, and their children, Zaira and Paniotis, that created this first class hotel as it is aptly labeled. It opened in 2011.  The family foursome is responsible for the day-to-day operation of this seven room hotel.

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Walkway beneath Citta dei Nicliani
As is usual with our travels, we set out on this adventure somewhat at the last minute.  Most of the rooms were already reserved but we managed to book one of the two remaining for a next-day arrival. Booking one of the last rooms available always makes us a bit nervous but in this case we shouldn’t have been;  it was simply charming.

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Our room and en suite at Citta dei Nicliani 
Designers have blended up-scale modern designs into the rooms carved out of the renovated historic old buildings.The hotel features Guy Larouche bedding, flat screen television (which we never turned on) and incredibly fast and free wi-fi.

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The Scout and Paniotis Sepsas, hotel manager, review the wine list
That man who’d described the place as having an extensive wine list, hadn’t exaggerated.  Paniotis, who is the master of the wine cellar handed The Scout a 52-page book with wines available for purchase.  Perhaps the most amazing entry to us was a Cayuse wine from Washington State – a wine so highly sought back in the Pacific Northwest that you must be on a waitlist to purchase it from the winery and that is almost impossible to find at retail outlets, but here we could  - if we wanted to pay the 250-euro price, which isn’t out of line for that label.

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Lobby/reception/dining area - hotel Citaa dei Nicliani
The reception/lounge/dining area was a glass-walled structure that allowed the blooms of fragrant garden vines to dangle inside from the roof line, fresh cut blooms decorated all the tables and so many bric-a-brac and books on display that it will take another visit just to flip through a few more of their pages and admire the decor.


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Dining - a made-to-order experience- Citta dei Nicliani
If a guest choses to eat dinner at the hotel, the menu selection is made by late afternoon with a preferred serving time noted. These meals are individually cooked and the loaves of bread – carob and wheat – are baked daily and served out of the oven with the meal.

And breakfasts which are included in the room price are such a feast that you need not eat again until dinner. They offer an array of salts and sugars almost as extensive as their selection of wine.

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Breakfast was in itself a reason to get up each day - Citta dei Nicliani
We spent two nights  which gave us a full day to explore the Inner Mani area and we barely touched the surface – we could easly have filled another day, if not two, had we taken a few hikes, spent time on the nearby beaches or visited each of the villages in our immediate area.

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Looking into the reception area - Hotel Citta dei Nicliani
Now at this point you are saying to yourself, she must be exaggerating – it couldn’t be that great – go take a look at TripAdvisor where you’ll find 137 reviews of the hotel. Seven are 'above average' and 130 are 'excellent'.  Words used in the reviews include ‘magical’, ‘never been to a place like this’, ‘never had such a warm welcome’. 

Better yet, go stay there and experience this treasure of the Inner Mani. Rates vary between high and low season and the room. Our room was 90-euros a night. We certainly plan to be regulars there! (And for the record: we weren't comp'ed for our stay, nor did they know I was writing about the stay until the morning we left.)
For more information: http://www.cittadeinicliani.gr

That’s it from us this week. Again I am a bit late with this post but we’ve been without internet for the last three days.  Summertime is easing its way into our part of Greece and the livin’ is easy.  Hope the same holds true for you whatever season you are enjoying in your part of the world. Thanks again for the time you spend with us ~ safe travels to you and yours!

Linking up - internet willing with these fine folks:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

8 comments:

  1. What a magical place Jackie. If only the stones had mouths they could tell us amazing stories of their history. It is places like this that give us hope for the future.

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  2. Jackie, I know I can depend on you for a truly objective account of your experiences at the multitude of hotels and inns that you and the Scout have visited, even the ones that you may have been tempted to favour because of your deep love of the Mani area. The pics are proof in themselves that your stay at the Citta dei Nicliani was an unforgettable experience. From the food to the rooms to the views (and that impressive and eclectic wine list!), there is no doubt that this mini escape was magic!

    Thanks for sharing your always interesting adventures!

    xx
    Poppy

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  3. Citta dei Nicliani sounds like a real find: the kind that's hard to pick out of all the listings in a booking engine. Reading your posts makes me want to drag my hubby to your area for a nice, long trip!

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  4. This looks like a great place to run away to.

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  5. €90 a night sounds more than reasonable for such a charming place with first class amenities. "Charming" is definitely the way I'd describe this place and it sounds like the family is lovely as well!

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  6. I absolutely love finding places like this to stay! And given that my last experience in Greece was decades ago, I'm glad you've shared this 'grownup' alternative to the budget hotels I stayed in so our next visit can be more luxurious!

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  7. This place certainly looks magical. I love the stone walls in your room and the glass walled reception/lounge.

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  8. What an absolutely charming piece...both the pics and the tales. Thanks for telling us about the Deep Mani and this hidden gem!

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