Thursday 25 to Sunday 28 June 2020
Towards the end of June, and because of its superb location, size and architecture, villa Casa dei Mezzo is magically transformed into the venue of the Casa dei Mezzo Chamber Music Festival where you will have the privilege of enjoying performances by world-class musicians and singers. If you enjoy chamber music then this event at Crete's premier classical concert venue is not to be missed.
This article gives an insight into the design inspiration of the beautiful villa, and to the very first Casa dei Mezzo concert that took place in June 2004.
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Water trickles from a carved stone conch to fill the basins of a fountain, and then flows down a channel in the inner courtyard of the Villa Casa dei Mezzo. Its destination is a swimming pool, tiled deep azure to match the Mediterranean Sea. The sun casts its light through the courtyard's slatted wooden roof and drenches the columned patio beyond.
Much of the farmland around the villa is inaccessible, but a path from the patio leads down to a stone bench set beneath an old carob tree. The garden itself is planted with fragrant sage and purple thyme, potted oleander and bougainvillea. No Greek house is complete without icons, and at the main entrance of Casa dei Mezzo hangs a gilded image of Agios Yiannis (St. John the Baptist), specially created by Vangelis Crasagakis.
The villa's owner originally envisaged a small house with a garden, but ended up creating the spectacular Villa Casa dei Mezzo, nestling within its 10,000 square meters of hilly olive groves.
The villa is named after the 16th century Venetian estate in Etia, close to Makrigialos.
The owner's main inspiration for Casa dei Mezzo came from the play "La casa de Bernarda Alba" by Frederico Garcia Lorca, wanting a Moorish influence - small outer windows and cool enclosed courtyards. Having drawn up a sketch Norwegian architect Stein Gundersen at Arkadia Arkitekter AS – Oslo was contacted who had previously worked in Spain. Under Mr. Gundersen's influence, the little house on Crete suddenly became much bigger.
It was Gundersen who designed the columns that grace the sandstone patio overlooking the sea. The Greek architect Manolis Kanavakis then raised the villa on a pedestal like a temple prompting the builders to affectionately dub it 'The New Acropolis'. Kanavakis' father, a retired priest, then observed the villa had fallen into the shape of a Byzantine Cross. After two years of hard toil and loving dedication, multicultural inspiration, and truckloads of soil and sand, Casa dei Mezzo was finally completed in August 2003. In accordance with Greek tradition, the local priest blessed it on the 4th June 2004. Three days later, a concert was held in the courtyard to celebrate the formal opening of the house. More than 100 people - foreigners and locals alike - attended the gathering which began at 9pm and ended at midnight. The concert opened with a piece inspired by Casa dei Mezzo that very morning, written and performed by composer Øystein Sevåg.
A bounty of local food and drink accompanied the music, and the acoustics proved excellent and this became the first of many memorable concerts held at the Villa Casa dei Mezzo.
A film by Manolis Kritsotakis
Six artists from six different countries (Walter Lassally, Mathew Halpin, Victoria Hislop, Ross Daly, Gunnar Strømsholm and Jannik Weylandt) share their views on why they insist on living in Crete.