“Maniatisa?” the taxi driver shouted to me as we wove through the streets of Athens. “Nai,” I said (yes in Geek), after I told him the region of Greece my family was from, located in the country’s southern Peloponnese. He slightly recoiled, and looked, well, frightened. The people of Mani were fighters. Women were strong, relentless and independent, and, they held vendettas. So much so that the last vendetta required force by the Greek National Army. I had visited the area briefly as a child, but it wasn’t until my brother and I decided to make the modern-day pilgrimage a few years back that it all came together. This was a tough region. Land was wild, arid, and people lived in towers. The taxi driver’s response started to make sense to me. This was a strong culture, a strong people. I felt a connection to the soil, the sky, and the sea. Not just Greek, but Maniatisa. I was one of them. Base yourself for exploration at Citta de Niciliani, a gorgeous boutique hotel owned and operated by the Sepsas family. The matriarch, Tania, is behind the interior design, while her son Panagiotis, manages the property, along with his enviable wine collection, which perfectly pairs with his father’s inventive take on traditional regional cuisine.