In herbal and naturopathy circles the name Juliette de Baïracli Levy is well known. She lived on Kythera for many years in the 1980s and 90s. A wonderful woman, full of folklore and knowledge, she wrote books on herbalism and her travels, many of which are still on sale. On Kythera she stayed in a tiny stone house a few hundred metres from the stunning second Palaiopoli beach which is still referred to by those who knew her as "Juliette's Beach". My cousin Justine, who was also friends with Juliette and had many an eventful outing with her on the island, returned to visit this year and together with me we went to look for Juliette's house. I had tried to visit it a few years ago but could find no trace and assumed the owner had demolished it.
So this time we waded through the head-high stalks of fennel between ancient olive trees towards the site of the old house, expecting to find a few stones at the most. But instead, hidden behind thorn bushes and high branches, we found the house intact. The garden, though overgrown, was still recognisable. Justine and her partner Johnny cleared the growth from the little glassless window - Juliette hated closed windows - behind which she used to tap away on her typewriter.
And the twisted olive tree she often tied her beautiful Afghan dogs to - she was at least as famous for her dogs as for her writings! - was still thriving; patiently waiting for Juliette to return to talk to it. Most exciting of all were the heart-shaped stones scattered around the structure, which we knew Juliette had collected over the years from her beach, convinced as she was, that Aphrodite had been born off that very shore and the stones were shaped that way because of it.
Here are the pictures we - Johnny, Justine and I - took on the visit, mixed with others I took of Juliette and her house and dogs back in the 1980s. Justine and I thought it would be wonderful to rent the house and make it a little museum to Juliette.
If anyone out there is interested in helping us and is also willing to put their money where their heart is, we could create something really fitting to her memory: selling her books, displaying her pictures, perhaps even creating her most useful ointments and toiletries.
Click on the pictures below to enlarge them.
All pictures on this site ©2010 James Prineas
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