Ithaca's history


Without an airport, this small island home of farmers and fishermen and their traditional villages has managed to retain an innocence and ambience unsullied by highrise hotels, crowds and anything resembling a fast food outlet. It’s gentle beauty remains for a select few who discover its green valleys, the slow pace of village life, ancient pathways to mountaintop villages and its many crystal clear white pebbled swimming coves. The island is the perfect all seasons' holiday for every age.

Ithaca is well known to students of history as the kingdom of Homer's Mycenean hero Ulysses , the wandering Greek hero of Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. However, it remains less known as a holiday destination.  The English word ‘odyssey’ is an apt description even today - it’s somewhat of an odyssey to reach this geographically stunning island of wooded mountaintops protruding from the Ionian sea on the Western side of Greece.

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Ithaki was first inhabited in 4000-3000 BC. Information about its first inhabitants who were indigenous Greeks, comes from shards incised with the Linear A script found in Pilikata. Finds from the Pilikata settlement and Loizos Cave date back as far as 3000-2000 BC. By 1500 BC, the whole island was inhabited. The island's civilization reached a high point in 1000 BC, when the kingdom of Ithaca included the other Ionian islands and part of the coast of Arcanania.

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Ithaki (ancient Ithaka) is said to have taken its name from the island's first settler, Ithacus, son of Poseidon and Amphimele. When he and his brothers, Neritus and Polyctor, grew up, they came to live on the island. Another myth has it that Ithacus was the son of Pterelaus and grandson of Taphius. Other experts believe that the name is from the Phoenician "Utica" (distant colony) or "Ithys" (cheerful, frank). the island's conquerors gave it various names, such as Nericie, Val de Compare (Valley of the Godfather), Fiaki, and finally Thiaki.

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