the largest village of Ithaca as
well as the capital and main harbour of the island since the
16th century, with a population
of approximately 2,000 people. During the Middle Ages this
area was called "Vale di Compare" (Port of the Godfather).
Today the official name is Ithaca, but everyone refers to the
capital as Vathi or Chora. The town has been built along the
coastline of one of the most natural ports of Hellas. The length
port is 926 meters
with an entrance of 300 meters in width. Extending from the
coastline the town meets a small valley full of citrus trees,
olive trees, and agricultural farming. As the main port
of Ithaca, it is connected by ferryboat daily to Patras, on
the Greek mainland, Kefalonia, Astakos and periodically to
Corfu and Italy.
During the Middle Ages what settlement existed was forced to
move up the mountain to live safely away from the port, which
was then being used by pirates as a perfect hideaway.
Standing guard over the entrance to the port are the two ruins
of the small fortresses, built in 1805, by the French
as a protection from the powerful fleet of the English, to
the left is Kastro, to the right is Loutsa. In the middle of
the port lies the
islet named Lazareto on which
in 1668. In 1836, with some of the stones being used from ancient
ruins, another building was constructed which was used as a
quarantine facility all through the English period. With the
English leaving and Ithaca uniting with Greece, in 1864 the
prison until 1912.
The earthquakes of 1953 demolished almost all of the buildings
in Vathi, leaving only a few standing. Among the buildings destroyed
were Venetian public buildings and houses that fortunately (unlike
Kefalonia) were rebuilt in the same manner. Vathi is considered
a traditional in-habitation by a recent law passed in 1978, which
or repairs in any other style of architecture or colour.
Perhaps this is the reason that on my visit here I detected a
traditional feel about the place. I really enjoyed my walk around
this beautiful bay. Although Vathi
is a very busy harbour I was still able to find a place to just
sit in a peaceful setting and watched the local fishermen preparing
the coming and going of yachts and boats and soak up it's marvellous
Near the port authority building, by the harbour is a large anchor
mounted on stone as a memorial to the sailors of Ithaca, it is
inscribed with the words . . .
"To the Ithacan sailors
asleep forever beneath the waves".