The charms of Greece’s blazing summer sun and warm August seas are well known, what to do though when the mercury is a bit lower, skies are less than an unblemished blue, the water temperature is still fresh, and the waving cypresses and green mountains coo seductively? Take a hike is our best advice.
Ithaca, one of the smallest Ionian islands, poor, rocky and fit only for goats as Homer so memorably put it, is also fit for those who love walking secret paths and aged-old processional ways; ways that wind past thousand year old olive trees, small chapels lit by a few candles, and who enjoy the perfumes that waft up while treading mint and sage under foot. A passing shepherd raises a hand in greeting, and the views from every vantage point of this mountainous little island unfold in an ever changing spectacle of vistas over distant islands and peacock blue inlets.
One group was lucky enough to encounter the procession of priest and devotees as it slowly wound its way up, chanting the ancient hymns, to the Chapel of Saints Helena and Constantine for the saints’ name day festival. As one of the group was called Helen, they were invited to join in, receive a blessing, confirm that Christ is Risen, and eat some of the holy bread (dusted with sugar and studded with nuts and cinnamon.) They were for that evening, part of the village.
For advice on hiking in Ithaca, or any other island, or indeed how to celebrate your saint’s name day, contact us at Five Star Greece.