Kefalonia10 things to do and see in Kefalonia and 1 not to do
In the collective tourist imagination, the Greek islands are all the same: white houses, cobbled streets, bougainvillea pergolas and old people with sun-baked faces sitting outside some shabby tavern. Obviously this is not the case and we have already had the opportunity to reiterate this in several circumstances. However, Kefalonia is the best place to realize the gap between tourist representation and reality. The largest of the Ionian islands, in fact, offers little from a historical-cultural point of view and a lot, instead, from a naturalistic point of view. In short, beaches, sea and mountains (trekking) are the factors that have allowed the population to emancipate, at least in part, from agriculture and livestock. Yes, because traditional activities not only continue, but have proved invaluable in mitigating the effects of the economic crisis that has afflicted Greece for some years. Below, we see together the main attractions of Kefalonia. Happy reading.
Founded by the Venetians in the XNUMXth century, Argostóli is the main center of Kefalonia. Unfortunately, little remains of the neo-classical vestiges attributable to the domination of the Serenissima. The terrible earthquake that hit the island in 1953 compromised much of the architectural heritage of the past. Inevitably, the reconstruction has changed the urban layout of the city which therefore presents itself with a predominantly modern face. That said, there is no shortage of attractions. From the seafront, where much of the social life of the area is concentrated, to the two city museums (Archaeological and Folklore), passing through the church of San Spiridione and the Lighthouse of San Teodoro, there are several things to see. Separate mention for the monument to the Italian fallen of the Acqui Division. The work commemorates the massacre carried out by the Germans against Italian soldiers following the armistice of 1943. A particularly heinous episode, costing hundreds of victims buried in a pit not far from the monument itself. Finally, also in Argostóli are the Catavothres. It is a fairly rare geological phenomenon consisting in the progressive disappearance of the sea underground. A real scientific enigma solved only in the 60s of the last century thanks to the intuition of a group of Austrian researchers who, simply by throwing a coloring substance into the depression, ascertained the existence of a long underground path (the dye resurfaced 14 days after on the other side of the island) which cuts through Kefalonia in a northwest direction. To be seen!
2 Myrtos Beach
Unmissable at sunset, Myrtos is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean, so much to contend with the Beach of the Shipwreck of Zakynthos the palm of queen of the Ionian islands. The rankings, however, matter to a certain extent. What really matters is the correspondence between the images circulating in magazines, travel sites and blogs and the actual state of the places. In the case of Myrtos, the images don't lie. It is a wonderful beach that has kept its environmental peculiarities intact over the years. The merit is mainly due to its not very simple accessibility. To reach it, in fact, it is necessary to take a country path about two kilometers long in the small village of Divarata (alternatively, of course, there is the boat). The sheltered position, without forgetting the luxuriant vegetation all around, has preserved this beach from large numbers. In fact, even in August, there is enough space for everyone. A noteworthy detail that contributes to the sui generis charm of Kefalonia. Not to be missed!
Almost unanimously recognized as the most picturesque place on the island, Assos is a tiny village located along the northwestern side of Kefalonia. To be precise, along the Erissos peninsula characterized by rocky cliffs overlooking the sea and a mainly agricultural hinterland. Assos, being on the coast, has always lived off the proceeds of fishing and, only in more recent years, has the tourist economy added to this. The country is a beautiful example of Mediterranean architecture and here lies its most fascinating reason. The other is the presence of one fortress of the sixteenth century built by the Venetians with the function of sighting and defense against pirate raids, very common in the second half of the 500th century. Today only a few ruins remain of the Assos Castle. However, the panorama that can be seen from the ruin abundantly compensates for the lack of everything else. To be seen!
About 40 kilometers from Argostoli and about twenty from Assos, Fiskardo is an essential stop on a holiday in Kefalonia. It is a small fishing village along the north coast of the island, which miraculously escaped the earthquake that struck the Ionian archipelago in 1953. The circumstance has allowed the town to keep its architectural features almost intact which, over time, have proved to be an excellent tourist attraction. The harbor area is worth seeing, where both the yachts of the vacationers and the fishing boats of the locals are moored. On the sides of the port, moreover, two small pebble beaches, surrounded by rich Mediterranean vegetation, complete the holiday offer of the town. Finally a curiosity. The topos Fiskardo derives from the Norman leader Roberto Guiscardo, Duke of Puglia and Calabria, as well as Lord of Sicily, who died in battle against the Byzantines in Kefalonia in 1085.
5 Melissani cave
About thirty kilometers from Fiskardo (a little less from Argostoli), the Melissani Cave is a must during a holiday in Kefalonia. Discovered in 1951, this cave houses a half salty and half sweet underground lake (a spring coming from the subsoil mixes with the sea), as well as a series of stalactites and stalagmites. The touristic fascination of the ravine began, however, after the earthquake of 1953. The earthquake, in fact, caused the collapse of the vault above, allowing the sun's rays to enter the cavity, giving rise to spectacular blue and turquoise reflections. During the summer months there are numerous boats that accompany tourists visiting the cave. Generally we sail from Sami, a small town opposite the island of Ithaca, however famous for being the main port of Kefalonia, connected daily with the city of Patras. To be seen!
6 Antisamos beach
In addition to the Melissani Cave, from Sami you can also easily reach the beach of Antisamos, another unmissable stop on a holiday in Kefalonia. It is a long strip of white sand, surrounded by lush Mediterranean vegetation, whose bright green contrasts with the turquoise of the sea. Antisamos were shot several scenes of "The Mandolin of Captain Corelli" 2001 film with Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz that traces the story of the massacre of Kefalonia which we mentioned at the beginning (see point 1). Thanks to this Hollywood production, the popularity of the beach has increased considerably, so much so that in the high season it can also be quite crowded. For the rest, it is a wonderful place where it is nice to relax in the sun (there are free sections and others equipped) and snorkel. Not to be missed!
Skala is one of the most advanced tourist resorts of Kefalonia. Over the years, various accommodation facilities have sprung up behind the beach, and still others are springing up, an almost exclusive prerogative of English tourists. Indeed, the quality of life on the south-eastern side of the island is more than good. The beach is very well kept, with free sections and others in concession, without forgetting the pine forest just behind the beach, where you can safely take refuge when the sun beats too hard. There are also several restaurants, almost all with an excellent quality / price ratio. Not far from the town, easily reachable on foot, there are also the ruins of a XNUMXrd century Roman villa. To see, the mosaic floors of the house which have remained in good condition despite the antiquity (see photo). Finally a piece of advice. About ten kilometers from Skala is Poros, another lovely seaside resort that is also worth a visit during a stay in Kefalonia. To be seen!
8 Drogarati Cave
A 150 million year old cave, "blown out" 300 years ago following an earthquake, and open to "only" visits since 1963. These, in summary, are the salient news of the Drogarati Cave, a cavity on the eastern side of Kefalonia, not far from another cave, that of Melissani (see point 5), and from the village of Sami. The things to add are few, because, as they say, the place speaks for itself. About 100 meters long, the Drogarati Cave is divided into two areas. One, smaller, renamed "Royal balcony", hosts an infinity of translucent stalactites; the other, known as "Room of the apotheosis" it's a real one natural amphitheater with excellent acoustics that over the years have suggested its tourist enhancement. During the summer, in fact, in the "apotheosis room", various musical evenings are held which can be attended by up to 500 people. Concerts or not, the Drogarati Cave, is another unmissable stop on a holiday in Kefalonia. Seeing is believing!
9 Monastery of San Gerasimo
The most famous and visited monastery in Kefalonia is located about 400 meters above sea level, not far from the villages of Valsamata and Fragata (the Robola Wine Festival takes place between August and September in Fragata). Founded in the 1953th century, the convent consists of two parts: an older church, where the relics of the saint are kept, and a more modern one, built after the XNUMX earthquake.. The ancient garden that gives access to the area is also very beautiful. It is a long open-air avenue entirely paved and scattered with ancient wells for collecting rainwater. The pilgrims who go up here, in the plain of Omalon, are many all year round. However, the full number of visitors is in August and October, on the occasion of the two celebrations dedicated to the saint. The premiere on August 16; the second on 20 October. Not to be missed!
10 Mount Aenos
Kefalonia, we said at the beginning, is not just beaches and sea. The largest of the Ionian Islands boasts several destinations above a thousand meters, including Mount Enos which with its 1628 meters above sea level is not only the largest mountain in the archipelago, but is also one of the most impressive peaks in the whole Greece. Not surprisingly, the mountain, which is located in the south of the island, in 1962 has been declared Kefalonia National Park. There are several reasons for the recognition. First of all, the presence ofAbies Cephalonica, autochthonous species of fir present massively along the slopes of the mountain, from 800 meters up. Second, the extraordinary biodiversity of fauna present, including several species of migratory birds, turtles and even one large colony of horses living in the wild. There paths is well maintained and duly marked to allow hikers to easily reach the top from which, ça va sans dire, you can enjoy an amazing view (see photo). However, during the summer period, due to fires, it is possible to run into access restrictions. To be seen!
1 Eating on the beach attracts wasps
Kefalonia is also known for the considerable amount of insects that populate it, in particular bees (from which the excellent honey produced by the locals comes) and wasps. The latter are attracted to food and therefore we do not recommend taking them to the beach (if you really can't help but remember to seal it well). We also advise against particularly scented creams. It is therefore good that the most sensitive to this kind of "encounters" are prepared for the presence of insects, especially in areas further away from inhabited centers. We also remember that the api, unlike wasps, they are a protected species and an indispensable resource for our planet. We learn to distinguish and respect them, also because the api just ignore them and they go away on their own (unless you are a flower). They hardly get to sting, they do it only if in danger, on pain of their own life.