Wanting to examine the meaning of home in a reference point for Western Civilization, our family of 5 boarded a ferry for Greece and began our search in our temporary home, a 4-person cabin floating on the Adriatic Sea.
With pull-down bunks and a full shower, there was room for editing, homework, and even our induction oven; we were left wondering if “home” is the shelter or the activities that take place inside.
Once completing the 723-kilometer journey from Ancona, Italy to Igoumenitsa, Greece, we drove across the top of the country to the Halkidiki Peninsula where a London-based architect had built a minimal house for her Greek parents.
From there we made a quick stop to witness the teetering monastery homes of the hermit monks of Meteora, a few nights in an apartment in central Athens, a day-trip to a “camping house” on nearby Kea Island and finally, we ended our trip in a part of the country where there are no cash machines nor gas stations.
The southern part of the Mani Peninsula, or “Deep Mani”, is a spot of few tourists and this was especially true during the last few days of October where we quickly created a home in a seaside town of 134 people. We spent most of our days listening to the quiet of the town, though we took one day trip to the other side of the peninsula to visit a man who crafted a shelter from a 19th-century-defense tower.
The ancient Greek word “oikos” means house, but also the family and the family’s property. Athens-based architect Takis Yalelis explains it’s not a simple term. “When they used to say ‘the house of someone’ I don’t think they referred to the property, they referred to the family, they referred to the place where the family grew, but it was not actually about a house, it was about everything else, but the house. The house was just a landmark to define where that family grew, but it’s not the house that defined it.”