Koroni, motherland to the Koroneiki olive!
Koroni is a town that was founded in ancient times, is the motherlands to one of Greece’s better known olive varieties, the “Koroneiki”, and a launching site for Russian meteorological rockets, from 1972 to 1989!
Koroni (or Corone) is in the municipal unit of Pylos-Nestoras, one of the 6 municipalities of the regional unit of Messinia in the Peloponnese. It is nestled in a hill, below the impressive Venetian Castle of Koroni, to the southeast of the Messenian Gulf.
Along with its counterpart, the town of Methoni with its own castle, the towns were of prominent importance to Franks, Venetians, and Ottomans. This importance was by virtue of their geographic positions in controlling the Levantine trade. Both towns flourished as a waystation of merchants and pilgrims to the Holy Land. Koroni in particular was famous for its cochineal (a scale insect from which the natural dye “carmine” -a deep red- was derived). It also became a seat of bishops of the Latin Church.
Going back and forth under Venetian & Ottoman rule during three centuries of Ottoman-Venetian Wars, Koroni also became an administrative division of the Ottoman Empire and the seat of a judge official. The fortress and the surrounding territory were an imperial fief (hass-i hümayun). Its annual revenue was 162,081 Turkish “akçes” (silver coins) which were granted, along with the revenue of Methoni, to Mecca.
Nowadays, Koroni boasts modern hotels overlooking sandy beaches, like Memì (aka Zàga), Mavrovoùni, Haroupià, Peroùlia, and Chomàti. It is also home to a reputable Arts Festival. In 2010 Koroni along with 3 more Mediterranean communities -Soria in Spain, Cilento in Italy, and Chefchaouen in Morocco- became ambassadors for the Mediterranean Diet, including the skills, knowledge, practices & traditions! Through each country’s respective ministries (that would be the Ministry of Rural Development & Food for Greece) they nominated the Mediterranean Diet for inscription on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The nomination was successful and the Diet was inscribed on the Intangible Heritage list in 2013. Koroni is an excellent ambassador because of the Koroneiki olive oil, the exquisite local, fruity, full-flavored wines and the rare aromatic herbs and greens that grow in the area. n