Leaving the early morning village up the steep mule track past the ruined castle, the bee-loud carob trees are soon behind us. The limestone is softened with bright asphodels, thyme, and, occasionally, rank dragon arums. Livaniana lies high above and we ascend steadily through this herb-rich, myth-laden landscape.
Livaniana’s age and dilapidation lends some romance, in the soft morning light, to its buildings whose function easily trumps form. The Aradena Gorge zig zags down to Marmara from the snowy Lefka Ori high above. Overnight the summit snows are tinged brown from wind blown Saharan sand but here the air is soft with hints of real warmth to come. The olive trees are thinly scattered and we know on reaching the tiny isolated church that the solitary wild pear tree lies next to the path we need to descend.
Back near Marmara a distant figure leading a sheep and a goat, silhouetted by the sea, comes into view. It’s Theo who owns the Lykkos taverna and the two animals will be for tomorrow’s feast. After a swim into the marble sea caves we head to Lykkos for a breakfast of Theo’s yoghurt and thick Cretan honey.