Additional Location Information
Spartia is a small village along the south coast of Kefalonia not far from Argostoli, the capital of the island or Lassi with all its sandy beaches. There are a couple of small supermarkets and a good taverna in the village and the other villages in the vicinity also offer a wide selection of tavernas and shops.
Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian islands off Greece’s western coast and for many it is the most interesting. This has something to do with its size, since there are major differences in character between the villages and the terrain of the north and the south. The island’s size also helps explain another feature of Kefalonia, which is its air of self-sufficiency. Many visitors come to Kefalonia each summer to take advantage of the exceptional holiday villas scattered throughout the island and to enjoy its wonderful beaches. But not only is the island quite big enough to absorb them all with ease; the Kefalonians, while the most hospitable of Greeks and perfect hosts, clearly still have a life of their own independent of tourism. The result is that on Kefalonia there is very little of the ‘hard sell’ that has affected other parts of Greece.
The Kefalonians’ sense of pride in their island is, as the visitor quickly realises, well justified. First, there is the natural beauty. Like a number of its sister islands in the Ionian archipelago, of which it is the second most southerly, Kefalonia is remarkable for its greenness, from the fruit orchards and olive groves of the southwest – where there is glorious display of wild flowers in the spring months – to the fir trees and cypresses of the hillier north. The interior is rugged and quite mountainous, particularly in the very centre where Mount Ainos dominates the national park of the same name, while the coastline is edged with a profusion of fine, unspoiled beaches of glorious sand or fine shingle. Myrtos beach in the northwest is probably the best known (and most photographed) of them but from the secluded coves around Fiskardo in the north, to the sandy nesting grounds of the loggerhead turtle in the south, there is a succession of welcoming and relaxing beaches offering clear water and easy swimming.
Some of the Kefalonians’ resilience must be attributable to the great natural disaster that struck them in 1953. That year the island was hit by a major earthquake, which levelled many of the older buildings in towns and villages. With these went most of the elegant Venetian architecture for which the island had been known; only the great fortresses of Saint George, in the south, and Assos, in the northeast, survived as witnesses to Venice’s 400 year presence, along with one complete town, the picturesque fishing port of Fiskardo in the north. One good thing, however, did result from this tragedy: all new building undertaken on Kefalonia since the 50s has had to conform to the strictest building regulations. This has meant that the standard of holiday villas on the island far surpasses that in many other parts of Greece and indeed other areas of the Mediterranean. The villas on Kefalonia are not only constructed in wonderful locations, with panoramic views, but are built from the best materials and to the highest specification. Many them also have sizeable gardens, particularly in the greener, lusher south.
Unlike on some smaller Greek islands, a car is really a necessity on Kefalonia, since the distances are greater and few villas are within easy walking distance of a restaurant or shop. But here a car is a virtue, since it opens up the great wealth of interesting sights and experiences the island has to offer, from the great stretches of Scala and Lourdas beaches in the south, to the underground lake of Melissani near Sami on the east coast, the urban sophistication of the island’s capital, Argostoli, in the southwest and the pretty coastal villages of Agia Efimia, Assos and Fiskardo in the north – not to mention the spectacular “red beaches” of the Lixouri peninsula. It’s no surprise to learn that some visitors have been returning to Kefalonia every year for the last ten (or twenty) years. It has a lot to offer!