What I Saw

23 Dec 2022

The transport between Cyprus and the coast of Asia Minor was in the hands of the Ragusan captain Roretti since 1795;

The transport between Cyprus and the coast of Asia Minor was in the hands of the Ragusan captain Roretti since 1795; he was the owner of a huge estate, in the outskirts of Kyrenia known later as Fungi, where many Greeks, persecuted by the Ottomans, found refuge at various times. Amongst them the dragoman of Cyprus, Hadji Georgakis Kornesios to whom captain Antonio Roretti offered safe passage to Constantinople with his ship in 1808.

Not long after, on 19 January 1814, Captain John Macdonald Kinneir found his way to Kyrenia, where he hoped to board a ship for Caramania. Missing the ship gave him the chance to get a taste of the town and stay for a while at the famous Fungi.

When on turning the point of a rock, we had a view of the distant coast of Cilicia and the finest part of Cyprus I have yet seen: a narrow belt of land, covered with shrubs and trees, confined on one side by the sea, and on the other by the mountains, extended to the East and West as far as the eye could reach. The little town of Cerinia or, as the Turks call it, Gerinia, with its ancient chateau, was discerned immediately under us reflected in the water; and on the right hand the stately towers of the convent of Bella Paisa rose amidst the wooded cliffs of the mountains…I had no sooner arrived than I was informed by the Zabit that the boat had sailed only a few hours before for the opposite coast- a circumstance which occasioned me some uneasiness, as I foresaw that I should be detained in a place where it was impossible to procure even a habitable apartment. I had brought a letter of introduction to Signor Loretti, (sic) the captain of the boat; but he was gone in command of the vessel and I was therefore necessitated to cultivate the acquaintance of the Zabit, who invited me to dinner, and regaled me with abundance of wine and a Cyprian concert, consisting of two blind fiddlers, accompanied by a boy who sang and played upon the lute. In the morning the Signora Loretti, an old dame with a very long waist, entered the court of the hovel where I resided; and dismounting from her mule, observed that she had come to carry me to her country house, where I could remain until her husband returned from Kelindri. I accepted with gratitude her kind invitation; and promising to be at her house in the evening, she departed…At four in the evening I arrived at the habitation of Signora Loretti, a neat little cottage, standing on an eminence about three miles S.W. of Cerina. The old lady was ready to receive me at the door and conducted me to my apartment, which was distinct from the other part of the cottage and stood in the middle of the garden. Captain Loretti had purchased this estate, consisting of several hundred acres of excellent land, for twenty piastres, or about a pound sterling, and had amused himself in improving it, by planting olive trees, which yield a large profit in a short time… The town or rather the village of Cerina, the ancient Cerinia, was formerly defended by a strong wall…the harbor is small, is exposed to the north wind and cannot admit a vessel of more than a hundred tons burthen; but the trade is inconsiderable, there not being above fifteen families in the place.

The 'What I saw...' series is made possible with the support of OPAP Cyprus and Active Citizens Fund.

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