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Ithaca

General Information Home of Odysseus, and perhaps Homer, this tiny island attracts sailors and holidaymakers from all over the world. It is very beautiful, and is surrounded by some of the clearest waters in Greece. Because it is small and a bit difficult to reach, it does not get the mass tourism that the neighbouring islands do. Therefore many celebrities like spending their holidays here - either on their yachts or renting a house.

Ithaca is truly a magical place, and stands for the homecoming. Odysseus sailed for a decade to reach his home, and many sailors believe Ithaca is the ultimate goal. Its friendly people will do their best to make you feel welcome, and it is no coincidence that many return here year after year.

History Even though Odysseus is the best known name of Ithaca, it was not he gave the island its name. According to mythology, Ithacos was the son of a Cephalonian king who settled here, and who together with his brother built a fountain that provided the whole island with water.

The island has probably been inhabited since the 2nd Millennium BC, and there is evidence it was the capital of Cephalonia during the Mycenaean period (around 1500BC). This coincides with the Trojan war, and if Odysseus really existed, now is when he would have been king.

The Romans occupied the island in the 2nd century BC, and later it became part of the Byzantine empire. It was constantly attacked by pirates, and made an alliance with Cephalonia in AD800.

The Normands and the Franks ruled Ithaca in the 12th and 13th century, and after a 30 year Turkish rule (1479-1499) it fell into Venetian hands.

Towards the end of the 18th century the island was occupied by the French, and in 1809 it was conquered by the British. In 1821 the war of Independence broke out, and Ithaca was finally liberated in 1864.

Much of the island was destroyed in the terrible earthquake of 1953. Therefore most of the buildings on the island are no older than 50 years, and the Italian influence is quite obvious.

What to See Ithaca's beautiful little capital Vathy has the worlds largest natural harbour. Here you can visit the cave of the nymphs, as well as the small archeo-logical museum. Local artists have their own shops, and the many small cafes and taverns will impress you.

The monastery of the Virgin Mary (Panagia) Kathara is open for visitors. It was probably built in the 16th or 17th century, and has very beautiful icons, as well as very nice surroundings.

There are also some ancient ruins just outside Stavros.

What to Do :You just Relax!!! Ithaca is also excellent for snorkelling and some people like to climb its mountains. The nature is steep and beautiful, and has a wide range of flora and fauna, so going for long walks is a good choice. Bring lots of water, though, and prepare for some serious climbing. There are water sports, tennis courts and daytrips to the neighbouring islands.

In August there is a cultural festivals with artists and orchestras from all over the world.

Beaches There are both sand and pebble beaches. Vathi, Frikes and Kioni all have beaches, but a great alternative is also to take a boattrip and visit some of the more inaccessible places. You'll be amazed by how clear the water actually is!

Nightlife: Ithaca is an island for relaxing but if you want some nighlife, there are two discos in Vathy. Otherwise, you can enjoy some very nice little bars and cafes with a romantic atmosphere in the evenings.

Food-The local taverns serve mostly good, traditional Greek food. Most of the local specialties are based on fish, and there are some sweets that are worth a try.

Shopping: You can find both traditional souvenirs and clothes on the island. In Vathy there are several shops with very distinct handmade costume jewelley, art works and antiques.

Getting Around There is a bus connecting Vathy, Frikes and Kioni. Because the island is so mountainous, many find the bustrip horrific, since the roads are quite narrow and winding. There are also smaller boats that can take you around the island. A few taxis work, and you can rent a moped.

Getting There :Ithaca doesn't have an airport, so most people prefer to take a direct flight to Cephalonia or Lefkas, and a boat from there. From both islands there are ferries as well as excursion boats.

Facts about Ithaca* Phone numbers*
Population: about 3000 International code: 0030
Airport:: No Local code: 26740
Cash machine: yes Health center: 26740
Internet cafe:yes Port Police: 32909
Highest Mountain: Nirito  806 meters Police:32205
Price rate: Average Archaeological museum 32200
Size: 97 sq. km OTE 32299

*The info displayed may be inaccurate. If changes have been made, please let us know.

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