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have made every effort to ensure that the information contained
in this KEFALONIA & ITHACA SECTION is as accurate as possible.
However, I cannot be held responsible for any errors, omissions
or inaccuracies. I have merely included information to share
with anyone interested in Kefalonia & Ithaca and not for
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Copyright ©2004 John Reali - www.jr-creative-images.co.uk - All Rights Reserved
Kefalonia forms the province of Kefalinia. With an area of
96 square kilometers, Ithaca is the fifth largest of the
Ionian Islands. It lies south of Lekada, east of Kefalonia,
separated by a channel 3-4 kilometers wide.
Ithaca consists of two peninsulas with almost equal extent. The isthmus
of Aetos, which has a width of 620 meters, joins them. The island is 29 kilometers
long and 6.5 kilometers wide. The channel between Ithaca and Kephalonia
is 14 miles long, with a maximum width of 3 miles and a minimum of 1.5 miles.
Its coastline of 45 miles is indented all around with many natural ports and
many small sand and pebble beaches washed by beautiful blue-green crystal clear
water. It is a very mountainous island, its highest peak being Mount Niritos
at 800 metres. The Katharon Monastery is situated here with amazing views of the isthmus of Ithaca and the bay of Vathi far below.
and its worship came to Ithaki when the island was part of the
Byzantine Empire. On hills and mountains as well as near the
sea, religious samples of superb beauty such as monasteries and
churches can be seen wherever you go on the island.
The island's economy is based on fishing, (many Ithacans are still sailors),
quality olive oil, wine and tourism. It is said, "Ithaca is a universal
symbol of nostalgia and love for one's place of birth". On my first visit,
I thought I'd found a small piece of paradise on this beautiful earth
we live on.
Ithaca has no airport; it can only be reached by ferry. Kefalonia's eastern ports
run ferries from Sami to Piso Aetos or Agia Efimia to Ithaca's capital Vathi.
There are also connections from Kefalonia's northern most port of Fiskardo to
Piso Aetos. Ithaki's port, Vathi, is connected to Patra, on the Greek mainland
with ferryboats all year round. Polis Bay is the only harbour of any size on the west coast of Ithaca.There are however many small secluded bays and coves that private
boats can use to moor off. The road up from the port of Piso Aetos is very steep
so you need to make transport arrangements before you arrive or bring a vehicle
with you. Passing through the village of Stavros I entered the beautiful fishing village of Frikes and then continued onto the port of Kioni a verdant setting of an incredible natural beauty, the clarity of the sea here is amazing.
Ithaki, ancient Ithaca is said to have taken its name from the island's first
settler, Ithacus, son of Poseidon and Amphimele. When he and his brothers, Neritus
and Polyctor, grew up they came to live on the island. However, Ithaca's most
important hero was not Ithacus, it was in fact Odysseus, the most popular character
in Greek mythology and one of the most famous and best loved heroes in Homer's
epics. For years Homer’s hero wandered before he finally returned to his
island kingdom. Though he visited beautiful, exotic, far-flung lands, Ithaca
never left his mind for a moment.
Ithaca was first inhabited in 4000-3000 BC, the island's civilisation reached
a high point in 1000 BC, when the kingdom of Ithaca included the other Ionian
islands and part of the coast of Acarnania. After 180 BC Ithaca became part of
the Roman province of Illyria. In 1086 the first pirates appeared here. In 1185,
the Normans who surrendered possession to the Orsini family in 1200 who remained
rulers until 1357, when the king of Naples handed it over to the Turks conquered
Ithaca. When war broke out between the Turks and the Venetians in 1499, Ithaca
sharing the same fate as Kefalonia was signed over in a treaty to the Venetians.
Occupied in turn by the Russians and the French until 1809 when the English occupied
the Ionian Islands and formed the 'United States of the Ionian Islands'. The
island was finally unified with the rest of Greece in 1864.
Ithaca's buildings were influenced both by the various conquerors that invaded
the island and by the historical and environmental conditions. The architectural
style had a defensive character (i.e. few and small openings, windows on the
walls and parapets). The houses are either away from each other or built one
next to the other. The materials used are wood and stone; there are no balconies
by fear of the pirates' incursions and every house, which has one or two storeys,
consists of the main building and the warehouses, which are attached to it. The
entrance is at the broader side of the house and faces the east.
At the end of the Venetian Occupation when the pirates' raids stopped, balconies
began to be built and the architectural style became more decorative and during
the British Occupation has many neo-classical elements. After the 1953 earthquakes
most of the old houses were destroyed, unlike Kefalonia the new ones were built
following a simple architectural style keeping, however, the basic elements of
Ithaki's architectural tradition.
Ithaca's flora and fauna is as rich as the flora and fauna of the neighbouring
island of Kefalonia. Hundreds kinds of wild flowers and bushes cover the island's
mountains and fields. In spring when all these plants are blooming the beauty
is unique. Higher, on mount Nirito slopes, you will see pine trees and cypress trees. The rich nature has hundreds of bird species, which
fill the air with their wonderful songs. Among the mammals that can be seen on
the island there are hedgehogs, hares and polecats.
The very picturesque Vathy is the capital of Ithaca. In the 16th century main harbour there
is an Anchor Memorial to the sailors of
Ithaca, it is inscribed with the words:
"To the Ithacan sailors asleep forever beneath the waves
Ithaca is an interesting little island,
very similar to Kefalonia in many respects.
However, I found it less commercialised
and somewhat more traditional than it's
larger neighbour. After driving onto the
ferry in Sami, I disembarked at Piso Aetos, a journey of about 30 minutes,
and had a wonderful time driving
around the island photographing some of
its beautiful vistas. I also returned a
few days later on one of the many boat
excursions to the island, with stops for
swimming in one of the many wonderful bays,
before visits to Vathi and Kioni. On both
occasions, the atmosphere here was very
tranquil and I would recommend anyone staying
on Kefalonia to make the effort to visit
this very peaceful and beautiful island.