Ithaca is the fifth largest inhabited island in the Ionian see. It is located N.E. of Cefalonia and S. of Lefcas islands. The island is 27 km. from end to end and 6.5 km. at its widest point. It has an area of 92,7 sq. km. Ithaca is mostly mountainous.
The highest mountain of the northern part of Ithaca is Anoghi (the Homeric Mountain Neritos), 629 m. high. Ithaca is one of the districts under the jurisdiction of Cefalonia. According to the last census its population is 3.056. The origin of the name Ithaca is believed to derive from ithacos, son of Pterelaos.
Some claim that Ithacos was the son of Poseidon and Amfimili. Ithacos came to the island with his brothers Neritos and Polictor. Other interpretations as to the origin of the name of the island come from the Greek word “ithy” (cheerful) and the Phoenician word “Utica” (colony). VATHY Vathy a town of 1700 people has been the capital of Ithaca since 1500.
It is set around the bay of vathy. The entrance of vathy’s port (the Homeric Forkys port) is 300 m. wide and the length is 926 m. Lazareto or Sotiras isle lies at the southwestern part of the port. There is a small church on the isle called Sotiras (savior). During the 19thy century those entering Ithaca were put in quarantine to prevent the spread of diseases.
Later the building on Lazaretto served as a prison until 1912. On the top of Lutsa hill, near the entrance of the port, lays a fort built by the French in 1807. Two cannons are the only arms that can still be observed. The cave of the Nymphs is a few kilometers north of vathy.
According to Homer, when Odysseus retuned to Ithaca he used the cave to hide the gifts offered to him by the phaeacians. There are remains of the ancient town (8th century B.C.) and ancient town walls (7th century B.C.) extending from the summit down slope of Aetos mountain 4 kms. West of vathy. The archaeological museum shelters a rich variety of findings from the Mycenaean, Corinthian, Protogeometric and Geometric periods such us pots, coins, tools, etc. Another remarkable museum to visit is the Historical and Cultural one.
An interesting church to visit is the Cathedral. The wooden iconostasis dates from 1793 and the steeple dates back to 1820. Another church you must visit is Aghios Georgios at Vunaki. It shelters an icon believed to be painted by El Greco. The library in Vathy shelters remarkable old books. There are many interesting old buildings in Vathy. A low, passed in 1978, prohibits construction in any other style of architecture.
There are several hotels, apartments, villas, traditional houses and studios to let. There are a great variety of restaurants, taverns, snack bars, coffee houses, and confectioneries. You can have fun at pubs, bars and clubs in and around Vathy. Motorbike, car, and boat rentals are available.
They’re a lot of service stations and two petrol stations. Near vathy there are several beaches: Lutsa, Dexa, Sarakiniko, Filiatro, Gidaki, Mnimata, Skinos, Aetos and Pisso aetos.
They are easily reached by car or boat. Gidaki beach is accessed either by boat are by hiking trail. Buses depart daily from Vathy to Stavros, Frikes, and Kioni villages.
To see Vathy at its festive, decorated best, one must visit during May through to October when the town is thronged with people enjoying “Ithaca festival” including theatrical plays and concerts. Every summer an International Meeting on “ODYSSEY” is held in vathy.