Be­naki re­ceives SNF do­na­tion to re­store Fer­mor res­i­dence in Mani

Kathimerini English - - Focus -

The Stavros Niar­chos Foun­da­tion (SNF) has ap­proved a do­na­tion to the Be­naki Mu­seum to re­store, main­tain and run the for­mer home of Sir Patrick Leigh Fer­mor and his wife Joan, on the seafront of Kar­damyli, in the Mani re­gion of south­ern Pelo­pon­nese, the mu­seum has an­nounced.

The Lon­don-born travel writer, scholar and sol­dier played a prom­i­nent role be­hind the lines in the Cre­tan re­sis­tance dur­ing the World War II.

How­ever, it was not so much his mil­i­tary feats – Fer­mor was awarded the Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Or­der for kid­nap­ping a Ger­man gen­eral in Nazioc­cu­pied Crete in April 1944 – that pro­vided the back­drop and in­spi­ra­tion for his books. His writ­ings, rather, drew on his in­trepid ge­o­graph­i­cal and schol­arly ex­plo­rations – most fa­mously recorded in “A Time of Gifts” (1977) and “Be­tween the Woods and the Wa­ter” (1986).

Fa­mous vis­i­tors

De­signed in the 1960s by Greek architect Nikos Hatz­imichalis in close col­lab­o­ra­tion with the cou­ple, the prop­erty is made up of three dis­crete low stone build­ings set in a lush Mediter­ranean gar­den with cy­presses, olive trees, shrubs and wild­flow- ers. Over half a cen­tury, the sev­enbed­room house hosted many fa­mous vis­i­tors in­clud­ing the poet George Se­feris. The house was also used as a set for “Be­fore Mid­night,” the third in­stall­ment in Richard Lin­klater’s saga of Jesse and Ce­line.

In 1996, the Fer­mors be­queathed their home, as well as its con­tents in­clud­ing some 7,000 books, to the Be­naki Mu­seum un­der the con­di­tion that it would ac­com­mo­date vis­it­ing writ­ers and schol­ars. In or­der to cover the op­er­a­tional costs of the house, the mu­seum re­serves the right to lease the prop­erty for a pe­riod of up to three months per year.

“This unique prop­erty will op­er­ate as a venue that will host im­por­tant per­son­al­i­ties of lit­er­a­ture and art, but also as an ed­u­ca­tional cen­ter in co­op­er­a­tion with ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions in Greece and abroad,” the mu­seum said in a press re­lease.

An in­ter­na­tional com­mit­tee will be re­spon­si­ble for shap­ing the pro­gram and for ap­prov­ing the can­di­date guests, it said.

Fer­mor was knighted in 2004, after de­clin­ing hon­ors in 1991. In 2007, Greece awarded him the Or­der of the Phoenix. His wife died in 2003. Fer­mor died in 2011, at the age of 96, in Bri­tain. The cou­ple had no chil­dren.

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