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CEFALONIA is by far the largest of the Ionian islands and, some think, the most impressive.

It is dominated by the Aenos mountain range whose highest peak soars to 1,630 meters (over 5 thousand feet) and its slopes are covered with a local variety of black fir. The beaches on the south and the west coasts are among the best in the Ionians, and northwest Myrtos beach vies with Lefkada's Porto Katsiki and Zakynthos' Shipwreck for the title of the best beach in the country. The fishing villages of Poros, Asos, and Fiskardo are a delight, as are the inland mountain villages on the slopes of Aenos. The Melissani and Drogarati caves are quite unique natural wonders definitely worth a visit. Finally, the northeastern coast, with the island of Ithaca just a few hundred meters off it, features great views, and a unique landscape. Cefalonia is a huge, green island, with every holiday attraction in the book, except mega resort hotels and antiquities. Everything else you will find here. The island was never an important player and its ancient history is dominated by Odysseus' Ithaca, its smaller but more cunning neighbor to the east. The island was destroyed completely in 1953 when more than 100 earthquakes devastated the southern Ionian in a period of 3 days and leveled Cefalonia and Zakynthos. Except for a few villages, like Fiskardo and Asos, the rest of Cefalonia crumbled and burned. Thousands died and it took the island years to regain some modicum of normal life. Argostoli and Lixouri, the capital and the second largest town and, this being Greece, perennial rivals for pre-eminence, are located across each other at the island's west bay. They are both pleasant seaside towns built in a wonderful natural setting. The beaches around them are also noteworthy, especially the red-sand beach of Xi, south of Lixouri, and Makrys Gyalos (Long Beach) and Platys Gyalos (Wide Beach), south of Argostoli. The eastern shore features Poros, the gateway to the harbor of Kylini on the Peloponese, and Sami, the link to Patras. Sami is the ancient harbor town of Cefalonia that is featured in Louis de Bernieres' book "The Mandolin of Captain Corelli" and the recent Hollywood movie of the same title, directed by  John Madden (Shakespeare in Love), and starring Nicholas Cage, Penelope Cruz and John Hurt.

Cefalonia's natural wonders, besides the western beaches, are the sea caves of Drogarati and Melissani, near Sami. This part of the island is quiet and dominated by family accommodations. A little north of Sami, Agia Efimia is a picturesque traditional village, and the gateway to the north part of the island.

 

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