Cephalonia was a convenient point to aim for after 2 days at sea from Messina but also Ivan and Lu based their holiday destination on our itinerary so we could meet. However, John introduced us to his friend Keith who lives on the island and he turned a great stop over into a fantastic one.
As soon as we turned up in Argostoli he came and took us for a night out, then the following day took us shopping and on Friday he took us for a tour of the island! He has lived here for 6 years and was a regular visitor for many before that and loves the island and was keen to show it off taking us to places off the beaten track, so to speak.
Cephalonia has an ancient history, as you might expect, and unlike many of the places mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey all those in Ithica and Cephalonia can be identified. Unfortunately the island is subject to earthquakes, the last major one was in 1953, and it caused massive damage, virtually destroying the island, hence, most of the architecture is quite modern.
During the war the island was occupied by the Italians and this is the backdrop to the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, filmed entirely on the island.
For our island tour Keith took us first to the Church of St Gerasimus, a 17th century philanthropist. Keith told us that two years after his burial a light was seen above his grave. He was disintered and found to be undecomposed. He was canonised and put in a glass sarcophagus which on occasions is opened for viewing and sometimes the faithful are permitted to kiss one of his toes. The church interior was very ornate but it didn’t seem appropriate to take photos.
From there he drove us to the top of Mount Ainos, at 1628 metres the highest peak in the Ionian. The views from here across southern Cephalonia were magnificent. He also took us to what used to be the retreat of Prime Minister Metaxa, hidden away from the road but offering more fantastic views from the balcony.
Then we drove down to Sami, for a coffee, then to the picturesque bay of Antisamos, one of the film sets, then on to Melissani an under ground cave, the roof of which collaped to reveal the hidden river lake. It has been shown using dyes that sea water disappears to a cave in Argostoli and sometime later appears again as fresh water in Sami.
After Sami we drove to Fiskardo, a small port on the north east tip of the island. Under clear blue skies, with yachts moored on the quayside and against the rocks close by it looked really picturesque.
Then it was back to Argostoli where we treated him to dinner before we said our good byes.
Without Keith Cephalonia would have just been an island, now it is somewhere we plan to return to to see more of. A massive thanks to him for showing us some of his lovely home.