Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kythira Island

Kythira is the southernmost island of the Ionian chain, located just off the eastern tip of the Peloponnese. Known as the island of Aphrodite, according to legend it is where the goddess was born. Its strategic location between the Ionian and Aegean seas made it a prized territory for Minoans, Spartans, Athenians, Macedonians, Venetians and later Russians. Each civilization left its mark.

Kythera is an hour's ferry ride from Neapolis, making it a perfect one-day trip. One can drive one's car onto the ferry, then enjoy the crossing from the upper decks: a perfect example of the importance of the journey itself.

Once on Kythira, it is easy to explore the island by car. Take a short hike to a lovely waterfall, visit Byzantine churches, monasteries and ruined fortresses, taste a selection of local varietals at a winery, relax on a deserted beach. Or time one's visit to coincide with a local festival. Then catch the evening ferry for the return trip to Neapolis.