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I dwell in shining Ithaca. There is a mountain there, high Neriton, covered in forests. Many islands lie around it, very close to each other, Doulichion, Same and wooded Zacynthos. But low-lying Ithaca is farthest out to sea, towards the sunset. And the others are apart, towards the dawn and sun. It is rough, but it raises good men.
Homer first immortalised Ithaca in The Odyssey as the home of Odysseus, the cunning king who finds himself having to face the most formidable enemies. On this very island Penelope waited 20 years for her husband to return, keeping ageing at bay by producing a constant stream of tears in what Homer described as her “bed of sorrows”.
With 3,000 permanent inhabitants and not much in the way of infrastructure, little has changed since Odysseus was king of this island. Mountains studded green with pine trees, beaches of tiny white pebbles bordered by soaring cliffs and water so colourful it could have kept Monet occupied for decades – Ithaki, as it is known to the locals – is a treasure trove of paradisal clichés.
The island’s beauty will leave an indelible mark in your mind, and there is a quiet majesty here that tends to permeates everything. Take in small villages lined by olive trees – some thousands of years old – and the sound of sails unfurling in the harbour, where proud fishermen display their catch, or the distant echo of water and wind travelling through forests. You’ll find the setting fosters a sleepy, refreshing kind of peace.
The Perfect Day
This is the place to reconnect with the people you already know, so try to bring your company with you. Even the capital of the island and the main port (which is one of the world’s largest natural harbours) is quiet and picturesque, so there’s not a tremendous amount of socialising or people-watching. It is a place to disconnect and unwind – to spend days swimming and visiting secluded beaches with a sunny lunch at Calypso tavern at the harbourside in Kioni. Return in the late afternoon to a nap, with your skin taut with salt and tanned from the sun.
Early evening brings a cup of coffee on a balcony with a slice of rovani, a native dessert drenched with local honey. At night have dinner at Libretto, an Italian restaurant in Vathy, followed by drinks at a quiet bar in the port as late as you like. Or venture into the other villages – Lefki, Stavros, Frikes and Kioni. Little light pollution leaves the night skies clear for stargazing.
Gidaki, Rachi, Skinos Bay.
Itha108 yoga retreat.
No need – the whole place is a great escape.
How to Get There
Fly to Kefalonia from Athens then take a ferry to Ithaca.
How to Get Around
A rental car or a motorcycle.
What to Pack
A white linen dress, shoes from Ancient Greek Sandals.
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