Ithaca, the Unspoilt Star of the Ionian Islands
Enjoy a Peaceful Place Full of Mythological Promise

For those who think that the idea of finding a Greek island that is unspoilt, quiet and beautiful is an impossible dream, there is good news.

Ithaca, one of the smallest of the Ionian islands, has miraculously managed to retain an innocence and an ambience unsullied by high-rise hotels, breeze-block diving schools or anything resembling a fast-food outlet.

Indeed, the fastest food to be seen was at a beachside restaurant in the tiny port of Frikes, where a lone fisherman brought ashore the octopus he had just caught, slapped it hard on the quay several times, and then delivered it up to one of the restaurants that edged the pebble beach in a setting so ridiculously picturesque that you might have wandered on to a film set.

Half an hour later the island's rush hour began when a ferry arrived from Ithaca's larger neighbour Cephalonia. For a full five minutes a few cars, some cyclists and a handful of foot passengers disembarked, then an equal number embarked and the boat sailed off. Tranquillity reigned once more.

Most holidaymakers are based in the island's main town of Vathy, only 20 minutes from Frikes by car, but on a road that for part of the way clings, leech-like, to the mountainside. Although the island has an area of approximately only 40 sq miles, the landscape changes with every turn.

Two large mountains dominate the skyline - in fact one guidebook sums the island up as two mountains joined by an isthmus - while at sea level, blue, perfectly clear water, washes against a succession of pebble beaches.

(Posting date 22 May 2009)

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