flight greece

When Odysseus set off for glorious days in Troy, his beloved wife, Penelope, was left alone to unwittingly excite the appetite of men for a gorgeous queen. Before long, the palace was brimful of odious suitors who would flirt with the queen persistently. What is more, they made Penelope promise she would marry one of them. To keep them at bay, she came up with a devise: she promised she would come to a wedding with the best of them when she would have finished weaving a shroud. So, she spent the daytime weaving it and the nighttime unweaving it. Thus doing, she managed to stay clear of the suitors for 20 whole years, until Odysseus returned to Ithaca.

“Keep Ithaca always in your mind. Arriving there is what you are destined for”
Cavafy, Ithaca, translated by Edmund Keely/Philip Sherrard

Worldwide famous as the home of Odysseus, Ithaca symbolises the return to the haven, the discovery and the fulfillment. Despite its proximity to Kefalonia (Cephalonia) (2km northeast) it is much more peaceful, quiet and undiscovered from it, thus being an ideal place for alternative activities and a holiday living up to the standards of the most demanding ones amongst us. With its 27-kilometre long and 6.5-kilometre large mountainous surface, it boasts plenty of hiking as well as mountain bike trails in a sequence of blue and green alongside the coast and through olive, cypress, pine, oak, arbutus and carob trees up on the hills.

Scuba diving and sea kayaking are some of the options too, while the Cave of the Nymph will give you the chance to combine an exciting visit with a myth: Odysseus had hidden there the gifts he had brought along from the land of the Phaeacians.

 

Beaches
The beach lovers will take pleasure in a multitude of choices covering all tastes, from sand to pebbles, from rocky to green-clad backgrounds, from peaceful to busy ones. Some of them are: Lootsa, Filiatró, Sarakínniko, Dexá, Minnímata, Yidáki, Aetós, Áspros Yalós, Afáles, Kourvoólia.

 

Villages
The 3.000-odd inhabitants of the island reside in some of the following villages:

 

Vathý: Marked by the features of the local architecture, it is the capital of the island and home to the Maritime and Folkloric Museum as well as to the Archaeological Museum of Ithaca. Vathý is built on a bay the center of which is decorated by the tiny little island of Lazarétto, a former sanatorium and prison.
Vathy is Ithaca’s capital town and port. The Venetian influence is manifest in this heritage

small town featuring beautiful tiled roofs, and picturesque kantounia (cobblestone alleys). After the ravaging 1953 earthquake, the biggest part of the town had to be restored or rebuilt a new. The 1668 Sotiras chapel stands on Lazaretto isle, at Vathy’s port entrance. Under British rule the islet was used as quarantine for infectious diseases and later as a jail.

Town promenade
• To Panagia Metropolitan Church, featuring a 1793 wood-carved iconostasis and an old bell tower (1820).
• To Taxiarchis church, famous for the Crucifixion icon, said to have been painted by El Greco.
• To the Drakoulis family neoclassical mansion, by the beach.
• To the Archeological Museum; finds come mostly from the island’s southern part and date back to the Mycenaean era up to the Roman times.
• To the Maritime and Folk Art Museum (in the old power station building); exhibits include traditional costumes and furniture, trade and agricultural tools and items related to the island’s maritime tradition.
• To the library in Ithaca Cultural Centre, housing a rare book collection
• To the Venetian castle’s ruins.
• To the Nymphs Cave or Marmarospilia (3 km W of Vathy) where, according to Homer, Odysseus hid the gifts presented to him by the Faiakes on his return from Troy. Visit nearby Palaiochora, a significant Venetian settlement as manifested by the ruins of houses and churches (such as The Dormition of Theotokos
Church and the Entry of Theotokos in the Temple Church; both are listed monuments).

  • To Evmaios Cave (6.5 km S) where, according to tradition, Odysseus met with Evmaios, his faithful servant; continue towards Arethousa Spring and the Homeric location “Korakos Petra”; the above are located at Marathias area.
    • To Alalkomenes ancient town ruins (circa 800 BC), on a hill at Aetos area (4 km W), where parts of the Cyclopean walls and rock-carved cisterns still stand. Boats make runs to Kefalonia from Pisaetos, the small harbour in Aetos Bay.

Perahóri: A gorgeous scenic little village with a breathtaking view over the island. Built at the edge of the Afentikós Lógos forest, it is the perfect starting point for walks by medieval ruins in the oaks.

Stavrós: Situated on the north of the island, this village hosts another Archaeological Museum, known for the clay mask of the 1st century A.C. writing “ΕΥΧΗΝ ΟΔΥΣΣΕΙ” (= “a wish for Odysseus” in Ancient Greek).

Anoyí: A must of a visit thanks to the upright stones of the area (menhirs) the tallest of which goes as high as 8 metres

 

Trips around Ithaca Island

Anogi
One of the island’s oldest villages, Anogi is built on Mount Nirito at 510 m. above sea level. Visit the 12th c. Dormition of Theotokos Church and admire the exquisite 17th-century murals and the 1682 Venetian style belfry. There are also numerous impressive monoliths (called “menir”) scattered around the village; Araklis and Kavellaris are the biggest ones. The historic Panagia Katharon Monastery is 3.5 km to the south; its main church (katholikon) was built in 1530 and restoration works took place in the late 17th century. From this point, you will enjoy the stunning view of the island’s southern part and the open sea. Distance from Vathy: 16 km NW.

Stavros
This is a beautiful large village in the island’s north side. The bust of Odysseus [Ulysses] stands in the central square. Make a point of visiting the Venetian Tzouganatos residence and the byzantine Sotiras church. Another place of interest is the Archeological Collection (tel: 6740-23.955) that includes finds from the Loizos littoral cave. Poli is the small port of Stavros village, a scenic bay where boats are moored and ferry runs take place to Fiskardo (Kefalonia) and Lefkada. You can go for a swim in Aspros Gialos and Agios Ioannis beaches and from Lefki village you can swim in Militera and Koutoupi beaches. Distance from Vathy: 16.5 km. NW.

Platreithias
It is located in a fertile area, next to Agioi Saranta, Lachos and Kalamos villages. You can swim at Afales and Agios Nikolaos coves. Distance from Vathy: 18.5 km NW.

Frikes
From this fishing village lying northeast there is a shuttle boat service to Lefkada and Kefalonia. It is said that Frikes used to be Reithros port described in the Homeric Epics. Go for swimming in Limenia and Pera Limenia beaches (access by boat or through a trail), or try the small beaches along the road towards Kioni. Distance from Vathy: 19 km NW.

Exogi
It is the island’s northernmost village and – some say – the most beautiful one, thanks to its scenic location (you will find here Ithaca’s unique pine tree forest of the highest purity). From here, there is a view of Afales, Ithaca’s largest bay.
The picturesque Panagia Monastery can be seen further up the village, at Pernarakia. According to scholars, Agios Athanasios area and the location of Odysseus’ palace are believed to be identical. Distance from Vathy: 22.5 km N.

Kioni
Kioni is Ithaca’s truly cosmopolitan spot, a small port where you will also see the remnants of three windmills. It is a traditional village as well as a busy one. In the summertime, the small port is the mooring place for many yachts. North of Kioni, you will find Mavronas, a pebble beach, and to the south you can reach – by boat only – the secluded beaches of Kritami, Chalkia and Liano. Distance from the capital town: 23.5 km NW.

 

Gastronomy
It might be difficult to date the local dishes back to the ancient era; still their taste is mythical all the same. Try codpie, tomatoballs, savóro fish (fish fillet fried in vinegar, raisins, rosemary and garlic) tserepáto (red meat of chicken charcoal-grilled in a clay pot) and, as a desert, rovaní (ground rice with honey).

 

Events
• “Theatrical Contest”: amateur drama groups participate in this cultural event.
• Cultural events centred on Homer and Odysseus.
• Exhibitions, concerts, seminars and conferences.
• Festivals: June 30th in Frikes, July 17th in Exogi,
July 20th in Kioni, August 5th and 6th in Stavros,
August 14th in Anogi and August 15th in Platreithias.

 

Activities
• Enjoy yourself in the cafés, bars and tavernas by the port.
• Swimming at Loutsa, Dexia (or Dexa), Aetos, Piso Aetos (Pisaetos), Mnimata, Skinos, Gidaki, Filiatro, Sarakiniko and Kaminia.
• Hiking. There are quite a lot of interesting routes to choose from, the most popular ones being: from Vathy towards Evmaios cave and Arethousa spring or towards Aetos hill (elevation: 378 m); from Perachori to Palaiochora and the Nymphs cave; from Exogi to Kalamos and Platreithias or towards Stavros and Poli; from Platreithias to the areas of Marmakas and Agios Nikolaos, and from Anogi to Mount Nirito’s top or towards Kioni.

  • Diving.

Getting to Ithaca
The island is connected by boat to the islands of Kefalonia andLefkada, and to the ports of Patras, Killíni and Astakós on the mainland. Kefalonia is accessible by plane too
Useful phone numbers (+30)
• Municipal Office: 26740-32.795
• Police Station: 26740-32.205
• Health Centre: 26740-32.222
• Port Authority: 26740-32.909
• Archeological Museum: 26740-32.200
• Maritime – Folk Art Museum: 26740-33.398

website: www.myithaca.gr

Categories: Featured, Holidays

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