a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


A world without women


Attempting to gain access to Mount Athos
John Julius Norwich Writer
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

I went to Mount Athos twice. The first time I think was just the moment I'd left the Foreign Office, I t was about 1963, and the first time was not a success because I went entirely by myself, it poured with rain, I couldn’t speak Greek, it was bitter cold, and I gave it up after three days. I was having a perfectly horrible time. Also, I didn’t have a proper rucksack because I'd been told that it was, you just picked up a mule at the port and, of course, there were no mules, so I had my little suitcase, which I had to carry, which was ridiculous in itself, shows how inexperienced and hopeless as I was at the whole thing.

But anyway, a couple of years later we did it again much better. This time I had a Greek friend with me, a lovely friend called Costa, whom I'd known for a long time. He was a wonderful traveller, and my friend Reresby Sitwell, who was the son of Sacheverell Sitwell and the nephew of Edith and Osbert Sitwell, who was an exact contemporary of mine at school. And he was, at that time, working for Fortnum & Mason and brought a wonderful, special rucksack, absolutely full of Fortnum & Mason goodies, which, my God, one needs on Mount Athos where the food is... I mean, it's gastronomic crucifixion three times a day, it's a nightmare. And anyway, off we went, and the second time it was an enormous success because it was, first of all, the sun shone, and it is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

John Julius Norwich (1929-2018) was an English popular historian, travel writer and television personality. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, at Eton, at the University of Strasbourg and on the lower deck of the Royal Navy before taking a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford. He then spent twelve years in H.M. Foreign Service, with posts at the Embassies in Belgrade and Beirut and at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. In 1964 he resigned to become a writer. He is the author of histories of Norman Sicily, the Republic of Venice, the Byzantine Empire and, most recently, 'The Popes: A History'. He also wrote on architecture, music and the history plays of Shakespeare, and presented some thirty historical documentaries on BBC Television.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Mount Athos, Reresby Sitwell

Duration: 1 minute, 36 seconds

Date story recorded: 2017

Date story went live: 03 October 2018