8 things to do and see in Ithaca

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Alejandra Rangel

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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8 things to do and see in Ithaca

Small, surrounded by lush Mediterranean vegetation and crystal clear sea, Ithaca is the ideal destination for a relaxing holiday. A charming island that in the last twenty years has undergone considerable development without being overwhelmed by it, as often happens to places that experience sudden popularity. Then there is the story. The island of Ulysses (Odysseus) attracts throngs of tourists eager to know some of the places and situations celebrated by Homer. Obviously, the debate on their exact location is open, but it matters up to a certain point. The myth feeds on regardless of the "fussiness" of historiography and basically it is also normal that this is so. Below we see together the main attractions of Ithaca. Happy reading.

1 Vathi

A journey to discover Ithaca (or Ithaki) can only start from the capital Vathi. The reason, very banal, is that the ships all land here, in this pretty town on the south-eastern side of the island. Vathi is a small, orderly town, rebuilt in the wake of the best Ionian architectural tradition after the terrible earthquake of 1953 had wiped out almost everything. The town is an excellent base for tourists to stay, as there is everything you need on holiday: ATMs, post office, mini market, bakery and a multitude of shops and clubs concentrated mainly in the port area. The latter, in addition to being the main port of Ithaca, much appreciated by sailors, is also a scenically beautiful place. According to many, one of the most beautiful ports in the Mediterranean, located as it is at the end of a deep bay surrounded by steep hills overlooking the sea. The archaeological museum of the locality is also worth a visit (with several ancient finds from the Mycenaean age to the Roman one) and Perachóri, a town just 2 kilometers away, famous for its spectacular view.

2 Anogi

Anogi is a small village 500 meters above sea level. It is about 15 kilometers from Vathi and to reach it it is necessary to cross the tongue of land, just over 600 meters wide, which divides the southern side from the northern one (hence the similarity with an hourglass with which Ithaca is often described ). There are two reasons why it is worth stopping in this locality: the presence of ancient megaliths with an elongated shape (up to 8 meters high) and that of the bell tower and the church dedicated to the Virgin of the Assumption. Inside the latter there are some well-preserved frescoes dating back to the end of the 600th century. Furthermore, from Anogi, an excursion itinerary starts that ends in Kioni, another very famous village of Ithaca which we will discuss more fully in the next point.

3 Kioni

Founded by the inhabitants of Anogi at the end of the XNUMXth century, Kioni is a village on the northeastern side of Ithaca. According to many it is the most beautiful place on the island; certainly the most coveted from a tourist point of view. The local economy revolves around the port where, during the summer, yachts and charters from all over the Mediterranean land. In short, a place for the rich who love to laze around here in the bars and clubs near the quay. But that's not all, because Kioni is a pedestrian village. In fact, in the summer months, car transit is not allowed, which is why anyone wishing to reach the town from Vathi (about 24 km away) must leave the car outside the town. As for the urban structure, in part it is still the one before the earthquake of 1953. Some houses survived the earthquake but even those built later respected the traditional aesthetic canons of Ionic architecture. The churches located in the vicinity of Agios Ioannis, Evangelistria and the monastery of Agios Nikkolaos are also worth a visit.

4 Frikes

A small port and, behind it, a picturesque village. This is Frikes which, despite the tourism, has preserved the traditional face of the Ionian settlements. The atmosphere is sleepy except during the summer when charters and yachts dock at the quay, lapping the coasts of Kefalonia, Zakynthos and the other islands of the archipelago. Frikes is above all a good base for those wishing to go trekking in Ithaca. Several beautiful hiking routes start from the village. The path that leads to the beach of Marmakes is wonderful. In short, a piece of traditional Ithaca that compensates for the absence of great services and entertainment with the spectacular landscape all around. To be seen!

5 Stavros

Stavros is the largest town in Ithaca. About 700 inhabitants live there out of 3000 and passes the entire island. The kilometers from the capital Vathi are about 16, easily accessible by car, scooter and public transport. In the town square stands a bust of Ulysses. It is believed, in fact, that the ancient Homeric hero stayed in Stravos and, to corroborate the circumstance, there are also some artifacts found not far from the village. Also worth seeing is the church of Sotiras (see photo) and the beach of the same name (Stavros), according to many one of the most beautiful in the Ionian archipelago. Not to be missed!

6 Cave of the Nymphs

Ithaca is full of signs that connect the places on the island with the adventures of Ulysses. Obviously, as already mentioned at the beginning, there are not enough historical evidence while, on the contrary, the suggestion that it may really be the island coveted by the Homeric hero works very well from a tourist point of view. One of the most popular places is the Cave delle Ninfe, a ravine not far from the beach of Dexa. According to legend, nymphs lived in this cave to whom Ulysses, finally landed on the island, left his belongings in custody, including the gifts received from the Phaeacians who participated in his return home. The landscape is not exceptional but, on the basis of the mythical tale, it is equally very popular, especially during the summer months (note that the inside of the cavity can be dangerous).

7 Source of Arethousa

Together with the Cave of the Nymphs we mentioned earlier, the Source of Arethousa is another symbolic place of Ithaca. According to legend, this spring is the place where Eumeus, the best and most faithful among the servants of Ulysses, brought the master's pigs to water.. We are talking about hundreds of animals that, according to the mythical tale, found in the acorns and other fruits of the wild Ithaca everything they needed to grow and multiply. The source is located at the foot of a steep rocky wall that can be reached in just over an hour's walk from the capital Vathi. Alternatively there is a car or a scooter, always following the road signs for “Arethousa Spring”. To do!

8 Beaches of Ithaca

Apart from the legend of Ulysses, what has been said about Corfu and the other Greek islands of the Ionian also applies to Ithaca. These are places where the "weight of history" is less than the rest of the Hellenic nation. The seaside dimension definitely prevails over everything else and therefore it is useful to review the beaches of the island having as reference point Vathi. The beach of the capital is very crowded during the high season Filiatro. The good thing is the sea (which in Ithaca, it must be said, is beautiful everywhere) and the fact that the beach is not very commercialized; or at least not yet. Along the south-east coast, however, we meet Sarakiniko e Skinos, two beautiful beaches (especially the first) absolutely not to be missed during a stay in Ithaca. Also not to be missed Agios Ioannis (approx. 9 km from Vathi) e Polis, the beach of Stavrós. To all these listed so far we must add an infinity of other coves that can be easily reached by boat. During the summer, goiters and other small boats are parked in almost all of Ithaca's landings (the official activity is generally fishing) taking tourists around to discover the suggestive inlets of the island.

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