Kefalonia? Kefallonia? Kefallinia? Cephalonia?
Cephallinia? Surely an island with that many names has an identity
crisis? Well to some degree that's true. It's definitely Greek -
it prides itself on never having succumbed to Ottoman rule - but
it has been ruled by several other nations. The biggest foreign
influence has been Venetian, still evident in the architecture,
notably in Fiskardo which largely survived the earthquake of 1953.
But the French and the English have been here too - pre-war Argostoli
probably had more in common with Paris than Athens.
And the name? Kefalonia is the most faithful to the modern Greek
spelling... but even the Greeks have at least two valid names!
Assos, Fiskardo, Ayia Efimia...
Kefalonia has a wealth of picture-postcard coastal villages which
rank as must-sees for even the shortest stay on the island. Find
Kefalonia's beaches would require
a lifetime to exhaust... the sandy beaches near Villa Jasmine offer
some of the best swimming, but there are countless others. Myrtos
beach is the most photographed in all of Greece, whilst on the eastern
side of the island the mainly pebbly beaches have some fabulous
views of nearby Ithaca. Find
Ancient sites, ruined castles
Having suffered continually from
earthquakes, Kefalonia has fewer ancient ruins than other areas
of Greece. And Ithaca, the home of Odysseus, has no remains to show
for it... though the controversy about where ancient Ithaca actually
was may have something to do with that. Nevertheless, there are
a number of sites worth a trip such as the ruined castle of St George.
Kefalonia is a geological puzzle,
quite apart from the earthquakes. At Katavothres, just to the north
of Argostoli, the sea literally disappears into the ground (not
all at once!), and reappears on the other side of the island at
the undreground Melissani Lake. The nearby Drgorati caves are also
worth a visit. Find
Kefalonia has hundreds of beautiful
churches, all dripping with gold and decorated with brightly coloured
frescoes depicting the deeds of the numerous orthodox saints. The
biggest of these is St Gerasimos (the island's patron saint), in
the Omala valley. Here they wheel out the mummified body of the
saint himself twice a year (August and October), an occasion accompanied
by marching bands, processions, and a giant flea market.
And of course, Kefalonia's focal
point is the capital, Argostoli. Here you will find most of the
shops, lots of the bars & restaurants, but also musuems, theatre,
open-air cinema and lots more besides.