Ithaca

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WorldMediterraneanIonian SeaGreeceIthaca
Ithaca
There are Port(s) of Entry here
38°23.278'N, 020°40.247'E Chart icon.png
lat=38.38796 | lon=20.67078 | zoom=11 | y
Greece IhacaS.jpg
Magnify-clip.png
Satellite view of Ithaca

Ithaca or Ithake (Ιθάκη) or Ithaka has an area of about 95 km2, is 29 km long and 6.5 km wide. It is separated from Kefalonia, its near neighbour on the W side, by a two mile wide channel, the Steno Ithakis. One of the smaller Ionian islands of Greece, it has about 2500 inhabitants, the majority of them living in the island's capital and main ferry port, Vathi. Apart from its historic connections (many experts identify it with the Ithaca of Odysseus of Homeric fame), Ithaca is undeniably a beautiful island and many cruisers’ favorite among the Ionian islands.

Consisting of two separate landmasses joined by a narrow isthmus, there are three harbours suitable for yachts, Vathi, which lies at the head of a large gulf in the centre of the island’s E coast, and the smaller harbours of Kioni and Frikes on the NE coast. All offer shelter from the prevailing NW winds - although Vathi can be uncomfortable if on the main quay - but the latter two harbours are very uncomfortable and potentially even dangerous in strong SE or E winds. In addition, there are a number of anchorages around the island that are usable in appropriate weather conditions.

Charts

BA
203 Nisos Zakinthos to Nisos Paxoi
Imray-Tetra
G12 Nísos Levkas to Nísos Zákinthos
NIMA
54280 Corfu Channel to Nisis Proti
Greek
30 Kefalonia, Ithaki

Weather

Passages

Islands

Chart of Parapigadi region

Parapigadi Island

Parapigadi Island/wiki/Ithaca#Parapigadi_Island
Island icon Parapigadi Island [[Ithaca#Parapigadi Island|Parapigadi Island]] (Παραπηγάδι) 38°20.1′N, 20°44.8′E

Parapigadi Island is a pleasant and deserted anchorage. Anchor in 4-5 m between Ithaca and the island. Reasonable holding. There are also two small coves just a few hundred meters to the south.

Warning: It is reported that large rats live on the island. Do not tie a line to the small quay.

Communication

  • Coast Guard - VHF channel 12
  • Olympia Radio - VHF channel 03

Also see World Cruiser's Nets.

Navigation

All the harbour approaches are straightforward, but be prepared for some strong gusts in the prevailing NW winds when entering them – especially Vathi. See individual port entries for details. Shelter in the harbours is mostly good in the prevailing W/NW winds but less good in strong easterlies – especially Kioni and Frikes, which could become dangerous. Vathi experiences a brisk afternoon seabreeze most days of up to F4-5, which causes an unpleasant chop for a few hours but usually dies down by nightfall.

Berthing

Ports

Vathi harbour from NW
Key to symbols: |Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Anchorage icon – anchorage ||

All the principal harbours of the island are on the more sheltered E coast. From N to S these harbours are:

  • Frikes Frikes /wiki/Frikes Harbour icon – harbour |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
  • Kioni Kioni /wiki/Kioni Harbour icon – harbour |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
  • VathiVathi/wiki/Vathi,_Ithaca Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Anchorage icon – anchorage |

Marinas & Yacht Clubs

None.

Anchorages

Sketch of Polis

Polis

Polis/wiki/Ithaca#Polis
Anchorage icon Polis [[Ithaca#Polis|Polis]] (Πόλις)) 38°26.23′N, 20°38.36′E

That very Moment
great Odysseus woke from sleep on native ground at last—
he'd been away for years—but failed to know the land,
for the goddess Pallas Athena, Zeus's daughter,
showered mist over all ...

Odyssey Book 13:213 (Trans Robert Fagles)

Polis is the cove where it is believed that Odysseus first landed on his return to Ithaca. Anchor in the middle of the cove. It safe to leave the boat and visit Stavros, about 30 minutes uphill, where it is believed that Odysseus' palace was located.

Sarakino Point

Sarakino Point/wiki/Ithaca#Sarakino_Point
Anchorage icon Sarakino Point [[Ithaca#Sarakino Point|Sarakino Point]] 38°20.407'N, 020°44.410'E
Is a small cove N of Parapigadi Island.

Amenities

Facilities
Water
  • Frikes: Makis +30 6979 687 862 has a water truck that delivers here
  • Kioni: Makis +30 6979 687 862 has a water truck that delivers here
  • Vathi: a water truck will come by the western quay. Enquire at the adjacent taverna for their telephone number (it is also on a phone booth nearby)
Electricity N/A (Not Available)
Toilets N/A
Showers N/A
Laundry ?
Garbage There are bins around all the harbours and in several anchorages
Supplies
Fuel Vathi: there is a fuel quay on the East side. Depths at the end are 2.75 metres but it is less than a metre towards the root. In 2012 they only accepted cash which is available at a bank machine in the centre of town (1 km).
Bottled gas ?
Chandlers None, only fishing supplies
Services
Repairs Minimal
Internet Internet Café in Vathi
Mobile connectivity Good 3G signal in most of the island
Vehicle rentals Vathi: Alpha Rentals have good scooters, often with low mileage on them

Provisioning

Vathi/wiki/Ithaca#.5B.5BVathi.2C_Ithaca.7CVathi.5D.5DProvisions icon Vathi [[Ithaca#Vathi|Vathi]] Good shopping here.

  • Limited elsewhere.
  • The local wine is worth buying

Eating out

Nickos/wiki/Ithaca#NickosEatingout icon Nickos [[Ithaca#Nickos|Nickos]] near the square is one of the best tavernas in the Ionian. Great roast meats and prepared Greek dishes.
Eumeos (Εύμαιος)/wiki/Ithaca#Eumeos_.28.27.27.CE.95.CF.8D.CE.BC.CE.B1.CE.B9.CE.BF.CF.82.27.27.29Eatingout icon Eumeos (Εύμαιος) [[Ithaca#Eumeos (Εύμαιος)|Eumeos (Εύμαιος)]] has good roast meats.
there are also several other tavernas there.
Several good tavernas.

Transportation

Tourism

History

Ithaca has a long history. As everyone knows, Mycenian Ithaca was the home of Odysseus. During this time (1500-1100 B.C.) Ithaca rose to the highest level of its ancient history. The island became the capital of the Cephalonians states, which included the surrounding islands, and the opposite lands, and was referred to as one of the most powerful states of that time. The lthacans were characterized as great navigators and explorers with daring expeditions reaching further than the Mediterranean Sea. On classical times the island was under the influence of Corinth and declined. In Roman times (180 B.C.-394 A.D.) the island was part of the province of Illyria. In Byzantine times (394-1185 A.D.) Ithaca was annexed to Cephallonia and both islands were under the authority of the Epirus province. The Byzantine Empire coerced the population into paying heavy taxes for any property or income they owned. The inhabitants had to deal with invasions from pirates, which forced them to seek refuge up in the mountains, where they established their homes and remained there until the Venetian rule. During this period the Christian religion was instituted and churches and monasteries were erected in different areas of Ithaca. The Norman Occupation (1185-1204 AD.) is the first in a number of continuous but rather short dominations, which altogether lasted for almost three centuries.

During the Crusades the Normans ruled Ithaca which became part of the Cephallonian-Zante county and was somewhat neglected. The county is ceded by the Normans to the Orsini Family of Rome (1204-1357 A.D.) who controlled the island by force with the cooperation of the pirates. The Orsinis' rule was ended by King Richard of Napoli, who placed the county under the jurisdiction of the Toques Family (1357-1479 A.D.) The Toques strengthened the county developing it into an independent state with a well equipped army and a naval fleet. They kept their authority until 1479. They abandoned the islands when they were informed that the then very powerful Turks were planning to annex the island to the Ottoman Empire. In 1479 the Turkish forces landed on the islands setting the villages on fire, plundering, killing people and taking them captives. Ithaca became desolate and isolated. Many of the people fled from the island out of fear of the Turkish occupiers. Those that remained, were hiding up in the mountains to avoid the pirates who controlled the channel between Cephallonia and Ithaca and the bays of the island. In the following five years the Turks, Toques and Venetians placed claims on the islands diplomatically. The possession of the islands were finally given to the Turkish Empire (1484-1499 A.D.). During this time the Venetians had strengthened into major power with an organized fleet. The Ionian islands were part of their pursuits, and in 1499 a war between the Venetians and the Turks started. Ithaca, and the other islands were besieged by the allied fleets of the Venetians and the Spanish. The fleets prevailed, and from 1500 A.D. the Venetians controlled the islands. According to a treaty of 1503, Ithaca, Cephallonia and Zante belonged to the Venetians, and Lefkas to the Turks.

The Venetian rule (1504-1797 A.D.) of Ithaca officially began in 1504 with an appointed governor representing Venice. In order to build up Ithaca, the Venetians offered the sale of land for cultivation leaving a tax free period for the first five years. During the Venetian occupation Ithaca was considered a semi-independent island ruled with a liberal and democratic system, and was the only Ionian island where no aristocracy, upper and lower classes existed. Production, export and shipping were the main factors of the economical and social improvement on the island. The population steadily increased to 4,500 by the middle of the 17th century and reached a total of 10,000 at the end of the Venetian period. In that period the systematic cultivation, especially that of the raisin, which large amounts were exported, brought about a better economical situation for the people. In the same century ships were built on the island to confront the pirates. Within a short period of time a remarkable naval force was created with the over fifty large ships in its fleet and many excellent sailors from the population.

A few years after the French Revolution, the Ionian area came under the rule of the French Democrats (1797-1798 A.D.) and the island became the honorary capital of Cephallonia, Lefkas, and part of the Greek mainland which formed the Ithaca country. The population welcomed the French, who took care in the control of the administrative and judicial systems, but later the heavy taxation they demanded, caused a feeling of indignation among the people. During this short historical period the new ideas of system and social structure greatly influenced the inhabitants of the island. At the end of 1798 the French were succeeded by Russia and Turkey (1798-1807 A.D.) which were allies at that time. Corfu became the capital of the Ionian States, and the form of government was democratic with a fourteen member senate in which Ithaca had one representative. The Ithaca fleet flourished when it was allowed to carry cargo up to the ports of the Black Sea. In 1807, according to an agreement with Turkey the Ionian islands, once again, came under the French rule (1807-1809 A.D.). The French quickly began preparing to face the English fleet, which had become very powerful, by building a fort in Vathy.

In 1809 England gained possession of the Ionian Sea and Ithaca after the siege on the French fort at Vathy. Under the English rule (1809-1864 A.D.) The United States of the Ionian Islands was formed, governed by a constitution, which was imposed in 1817, and Ithaca was represented in the Ionian Senate by one member. In the years of the Greek Revolution against the Turkish occupation, Ithaca was one of the islands where hospitality and medical care were offered to the revolutionaries. A number of Ithacans also participated in the Greek fleet. The population steadily increased and reached a total of 15,000 by the end of the English period. A few people emigrated most drawn to Romania, the number of sailors were increasing and several Ithacans kept high positions either in intellectual or financial areas in Europe. The island and the people were progressing in all fields and there was a lot of construction including that of the road from Vathy to Northern Ithaca. During the last years of the English rule three main parties were formed. The most important of the three was the Radical Party which supported the Union with Greece. Finally, because of the international situation in Europe, and after a series of negotiations, England granted the Ionian islands to Greece in 1864.

In WWII the island was first occupied by the Italians who were followed by the Germans. During this time the inhabitants suffered. A 7.2 earthquake damaged most of the buildings in the 1953 and many had to be rebuild. Finally in more recent times, Ithaca, like many other Greek islands, was invaded by the tourists.

Places to Visit

There are several sites associated (at least, for the benefit of tourists, even if the archaeologists disagree) with Homer’s Odyssey. The Cave of the Nymphs is a dingy cleft in the rocks leading to a cave which can be entered by a rickety ladder (take a torch). It lies up a side road 1.5 kilometres out of Vathi on the road N. The Fountain of Arethusa is at the SE end of the island and is a long, dusty trek from the road along a dirt track. More tangible evidence of what may have been the palace of Odysseus (at any rate, the remains are of the right Mycenaean period) is the mountaintop acropolis of Alalkomenes off the road a few kilometers further N from the Cave of the Nymphs. A hard uphill trek of around 1.5 hours brings you to the impressive walls of the settlement, with superb views N over the island. Further archaeological evidence of Mycenaean settlement can be found at Pelikata near the town of Stavros at the N end of Ithaca. Finally, the route back to Vathi along the spine of the island, via the village of Anogi, has spectacular views down over Vathi. The church of Agia Panagia in the village has some (sadly not very well preserved) Byzantine frescoes, which can be spied through the windows if the church is not open.

Entrance to the Cave of the Nymphs
View north from Alalkomenes
Ancient water cistern, Alalkomenes
In Vathi

The Archaeological Museum has exhibits from the Geometric to the Roman periods.

Stavros

One of the theories places Odysseus' palace here (the other possible location is Alalkomenes). There is a small Museum in the town.

Friends

Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.

Forums

List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)

Links

References & Publications

See Ionian Sea.

Comments

We welcome users' contributions to the Wiki. Please click on Comments to view other users' comments, add your own personal experiences or recommend any changes to this page following your visit.

  • Vathi is an attractive large port that should always have room and shelter. There is frequently a strong katabatic wind as you enter the harbour approach in an afternoon NE wind that can surprise you.Monterey June 2012
  • Frikes can be dangerous under certain conditions, especially when large ferries pass too close to the island. Read the instructions on the Wiki page with care before you moor up there. Athene of Lymington

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SailorSmiley.gifContributors to this page

Names: Lighthouse, Istioploos, Athene of Lymington, Rodger, Fourplay, Monterey


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