Wherever I travel, Greece wounds me.
On Pelion among the chestnut trees the Centaur’s shirt
slipped through the leaves to fold around my body
as I climbed the slope and the sea came after me
climbing too like mercury in a thermometer till we found the mountain waters.
By George Seferis
Ever since antiquity the mountain of Jason and the Centaurs intrigued visitors and enchanted travelers. Our Pinewood Middle School students felt the magic and experienced the mountain’s magnetism.
We started in Volos, the beautiful harbor city of the Pagasitikos gulf, visiting the Roof-tile and Brickworks Museum of N. & S. Tsalapatas, one of the rare surviving examples of an industrial complex, and a member of the Pereus Bank Group Cultural Foundation. The Museum opened in 2006 presenting the factory’s main facilities – the grinders, the compressors, the clay silos, the Hoffman kiln – allowed our students to familiarize themselves with the traditional profession of the brick and roof-tile maker.
Going uphill from Volos to Makrinitsa we stopped at the village of Anakasia to visit the Kontos Mansion in order to see the marvelous wall-paintings of Theofilos Hatzimihail, still well preserved on the upper floor since 1912. The Kontos Mansion is a rare example of how this unique artist created a dazzling room, full of bright colours and sunshine.
Theofilos was born in Vareia on the island of Mytilene in 1870. He started drawing all over every available surface in early childhood and was regarded as “odd” by most people throughout his life. In Pelion as in Mytilene, he covered the walls of restaurants and cafés, shops and private houses, as well as boards and paper and pieces of furniture, with the evidence of his obsession – an ideal painted world, full of mythological gods and goddesses, heroes of the Greek War of Independence, landscapes, portraits and bright decorative motifs full of life and style.
Saturday was dedicated to the beautiful village of Makrinitsa, nicknamed “balcony of Mount Pelion” for its stunning panoramas of Volos and the imposing Pagasitikos Gulf. The highlight of our day was visiting the Educational Center for Environmental Studies, housed in the beautifully restored early 19th century Mansion of Vatsareas-Mavrakis, and learning about the rich culture of the Pelion area.
Host Country Studies Coordinator