Kefalonia Travel Guide

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Skala beach

Skala beach

About Kefalonia

Discover the natural beauty that awaits you on this most enchanting of islands. Lying between mainland Greece and Italy, Kefalonia is the largest of the seven Ionian Islands and is the sixth largest island in Greece. (Kefalonia and its neighbour, the island of Ithaca, together make up the Prefecture of Kefallinia.)

An island begging to be explored, famous for its stunning beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters.

The land

The island is still largely unspoilt, and offers the visitor some of the most dramatic views in the Mediterranean. The variety of landscape is staggering: green valleys at Agios Gerasimos, fir-clad Mount Ainos, the rugged and craggy interior and the green hills of the north, covered with cypresses, broom, thyme and other aromatic shrubs and herbs. This is an island begging to be discovered. Explore a wealth of geological wonders, including subterranean Melissani Lake and the nearby Drogarati Caves. And of course, the island is famous for its stunning beaches, sandy in the south, and pebbly in the north, all with crystalline blue and green waters.

The people

The Kefalonians like all Greeks, are generous, hospitable people. They are known for their intelligence and quick tempers; they are excellent traders; they are poets and writers of satire; they are shipping magnates. Many of them are seamen. They are a musical people and their love for singing and dancing is evident. Above all, they are great travellers. Their idiosyncratic character traits have made them the target of many jokes and anecdotes relating to their adventures.

In the past, a large percentage of the island’s population, like that of many other Mediterranean islands, could not find work and had to emigrate, seeking a better life elsewhere. They settled all over the world: the United States, Canada, Africa, Australia, and sent money back home to their families. They say that anywhere you go in the world, you are sure to find a Kefalonian!

History

Kefalonia and its neighbour Ithaca have a very long, proud history. In pre-classical times, the legendary hero, Odysseus, is said to have been king, not only of Ithaca but of Kefalonia as well. The island is rich in Mycenaean remains. The ruins of Norman, Frankish and Venetian fortifications also bear witness to a turbulent past; the island was, after all, on one of the crusaders’ routes to the east. For nearly 50 years it was part of the British Empire. Then in 1864, the Ionian Islands were finally unified with Greece.

In the Second World War, the island was occupied by Italian troops. When Italy capitulated to the Allies in 1943, the Italians handed the island over to the Germans, who massacred over 5000 Italian troops on the island. This event is described in Louis De Bernieres’ best-selling novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (the film version of which was shot on the island in 2000).

Contributors

February 02, 2006 change by giorgio

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