If we drew a line straight east from the "toe" of Italy's "boot" to the largest, westernmost island in the south Ionian Sea, we would find mountainous Cephalonia. Variously spelled (Kefalonia, Cephalonia and Cephallonia), it is an island paradise.
Beyond its stunning beauty, Cephalonia's history is rich with folk tales and tragedy. (Fiskardo, for example, is the only town that was not ruined by the 1953 earthquake.) Ithaca, the kingdom ruled by Odysseus (also called Ulysses) and made famous by Homer in The Odyssey, is just to the east. Legend has it that Cephalonia was once ruled by Ithaca.
Tombs, artifacts and jewelry from the Mycenaean civilization have been found on the island. (Follow the link to view a necklace from the 12th century B.C.) Although some historians believe Cephalonia's civilization reached its cultural peak during those distant times (nearly 3,500 years ago), today some of the best wine in Greece is made from Cephalonian grapes.
From the shore at Myrtos Beach, to the beautiful caves of Melissani and Drongarati, to the top of Mt. Aenos, Cephalonia is a land of contrasts. It is a favored tourist destination during the summer months. Boasting a mild Mediterranean climate, the rainy season extends from October to April.
Because of its strategic location, Cephalonia has been the target of hostile takeovers throughout its long history. As far as anyone knows, however, none ended worse than the 29-month Italian occupation that began on April 30, 1941.
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