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Kefalonian winter - sheep on the beach


Kefalonia, Greece .... often referred to as 'the jewel of the Ionian', an island of stunning scenery, friendly local people, majestic mountains, delicious local cuisine, a temperate climate, sparkling clear sea and beautiful beaches.

The patron Saint of the island is Saint Gerasimos who came to Kefalonia in 1555. After spending 5 years living in a cave in Lassi, he established a monastery at Valsamata (approximately 14kms from Argostoli, the capital), the Saint Gerasimos Monastery which cared for the poor and became a center for charity. Saint Gerasimos is believed by the local Kefalonians to protect them and to also heal them of illness. Many natives of the island name their children after Saint Gerasimos as a tribute to the Saint who protects them ('Makis' is short for Gerasimos by the way).

The Monastery of Saint Gerasimos in Kefalonia

With an area of 688.8 square kilometers, the island of Kefalonia is the largest in the Ionian Sea and the sixth in size of all the Greek islands.

It lies off the North West coast of Greece, and is also known as Cephallenia, Cephallania, Cephalonia, Kefallinia, or Kefallonia. The island is named after the mythological figure Cephalus (Ciphalis), although some believe it’s name literally means "an island with a head", referring to the island's shape, because the name "Ciphalis" is derived from the Greek word for "head".

The island has about 30,000 inhabitants, with approximately 7,500 of them living in the capital of Argostoli, located in the south-western portion of the island. The capital is also one of the two main ports of the island, the other being Sami, situated about 25 kilometers northeast of the capital in a well protected bay opposite the southern portion of the nearby smaller island of Ithaki, or Ithaca.

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Together with Ithaka, Kefalonia forms the nome of Kefallinia. Before the earthquake in 1953 there were 365 villages on Kefalonia alone, now only 200 remain. You can still see some of the abandoned wrecked homes in many of the villages and on the remote mountainsides. The extensive road network (ahem! whilst not all made of tarmac!!) allows access for the more adventurous to visit them all.

The mountains on Kefalonia are some of the highest on any of the Ionian islands, in the southeast looms the Ainos range whose highest peak is Megas Sorus at 1,628m.

In more recent times (2000) the island has become well known as the location for Louis de Bernieres 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin, however the island has not become over commercialised and still remains traditionally Greek.

Fisherman in Argostoli selling his 'catch of the day'

The economy of Kefalonia is based mainly on it's agricultural produce, but also on stock-breeding. Fishing is another source of wealth, as is the tourist industry which has been growing slowly but steadily during recent years. Some well-known products of Kefalonia are it’s famous Rombola wines, several varieties of grapes, cheese products, fine honey, olive oil and figs.

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