The island of Kefalonia is a tourist attraction. Tourism to Cephalonia started in the early 19th century, when the Royal Family of Greece sent their children during the summer months to Lixouri. Tourists arrive from all over Greece, Europe, (especially Italy) and the world. Kefalonia is well-equipped to handle the influx of tourists during summer. It has something to offer to everyone. Fiscardo is the most cosmopolitan place with a port that receives many yachts every summer.
Kefalonia is an island ideal both for family and romantic holidays. Due to its large size, tourism is spread and the island keeps its quiet, laid back style even in high season.
The film, Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001), shot on the island itself, made Kefalonia more widely known.
Kefalonia is a mountainous island with Mount Ainos rising to 1628 meters. It has beautiful beaches such as Antisamos, Lourdas and Skala, with the most famous is the spectacular Myrtos beach. Other natural attractions include the Melissani’s underground lake, the Drogarati caves, and the Koutavos Lagoon in Argostoli.
The island has a rich biodiversity, with a substantial number of endemic and rare species. Over 200 species of birds have been spotted on the island. Several parts of the island have been declared important sites in the European Union’s Natura 2000 network. The endangered loggerhead turtle population nests on many beaches along the south coast of the island. A small population of the endangered Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus, also lives around the island's coast. The European pine marten is known to live on the island.
The island has a long winemaking tradition and is home to the dry, white lemony wines made from the Robola grape. Olive oil production is also a major component of Cephalonia's economy. The Ionian Islands have their own culinary tradition which is quite different from the rest of Greece. It is not influenced by oriental food but much from the Italian and Austrian kitchens.
Although the island was destroyed by some earthquakes, many notable churches all over the island have survived, some dating back to the Renaissance. The ornaments of the churches are influenced by Venetian manierism. The Ionian Islands have a musical tradition called the Ionian School. Lixouri has the Philharmonic Orchestra (since 1836) and Argostoli the Rokos Vergottis Conservatory. Richard Strauss visited Lixouri some times where he had an affair with the pianist Dora Wihan (born Weiss).
From an archaeological point of view, Cephalonia is an extremely interesting island. Archaeological finds go back to 40,000 BC. The most important is the Mycenaean era, from approximately 1500-1100 BC. The archaeological museum in Cephalonia’s capital Argostoli – although small – is regarded as the most important museum in Greece for its exhibits from this era. In late 2006, a Roman grave complex was uncovered as excavations took place for the construction of a new hotel in Fiscardo. The remains here date to the period between the 2nd century B.C. and the 4th century A.D.
During its history Byzantine, Ottomans, Venetians, French and British have all left their traces on the island. In 1864, Cephalonia, together with all the other Ionian Islands, became a full member of the Greek state.
There are four harbors and ports in the island: Sami is a major port with links to Patras and Ithaca. Poros, in the south, has ferry routes to Kyllini ; Argostoli, in the west, is the largest port, for local boats and ferries to Zante and regularly to Lixouri; Fiscardo, in the north, has links to Lefkas and Ithaca. There is room for about 100 small boats in Argostoli, where the port stretches 1 kilometer around the bay, while Lixouri is situated 4 km (2 mi) across the bay from Argostoli, on the Lixouri peninsula. Kefalonia has an International Airport 10 km south of Argostoli with regular flights to and from Athens. In summer the airport handles a number of charter flights from all over Europe.
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