A former teacher and charity worker from the North East of England, I love people and places and like to try out new experiences wherever possible. Capturing that 'perfect pic' is all part of the pleasure. Access issues are a particular interest.
Along the same stretch of coastline, on the road between Aghia Efimia and Sami, the Drogorati cave consists of impressive formations of stalagmites and stalactites. The existence of the cave has been known for more than 300 years but has only been open to the public since 1963. With illuminated walkways that take you down into the very heart of the cave, you can now take an excursion to see the natural wonders of this subterranean environment.
The Drogorati Cave near Sami - Image from uniquevillaskefalonia.co.uk.
The acoustics inside the cave are so good that it's possible to hold seasonal music concerts there and none other than one of Greece's most famous sopranos, Maria Callas, did just that during the post-war years of the 1960s.
Maria Callas with Aristotle Onassis 1960 - photo by top-antropos.com
A long time love of shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, Maria Callas and he were the society darlings of their generation.
The Drogorati and Melissani Caves are both open from 8a.m. – 8p.m. throughout the summer season. Separate entrance fees apply with the boat trip included in the price when visiting the Melissani Cave.
Lover's Meeting - Poster from Captain Corelli's Mandolin starring Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz - image from impawards.com
While in Sami, it is still possible to visit the pier built especially for the filming of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, where lovers Antonio Corelli and local doctor's daughter Pelagia, played by Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz, were filmed in a passionate embrace in the WW2 love story.
On a darker note, the Drogarati caves are where the former occupying army of Italian troops sought refuge during that period when the tides of war began to change following the surrender of Italy in 1943. Subseqently, their one time German allies became the enemy, resulting in the brutal massacre of thousands of men from their division as Italian soldiers were rounded up and hunted down. Local people were warned they would suffer the same fate if they tried to assist the Italian soldiers in any way.
As Italian forces outnumbered their former Axis commanders still based in Kefalonia, the viability for them to remain as prisoners of war (POWs) on the island was seen as untenable by the remaining German forces despite many of the Italians surrendering their weapons en-mass.
Neither could they be returned home to their native Italy. Apart from running the gauntlet of opposing navies engaged in battle in the Mediterranean waterways between Italy and the Greek Islands, the battle for Italian soil still raged and a resurgent force of thousands of fully trained troops - who may well take up arms in defence of their homeland against German forces still engaged in combat against an new Allied offensive, could not be countenanced by high command.
These darkest days of island history is the true story behind Louis de Bernières novel 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' and they are not forgotten by the locals. A small museum dedicated to the Acqui Division of the Italian Army commemorates 'The Fallen' on the main street of the island's capital, Argostoli.
It's hard to divorce yourself from this unimaginable tragedy or to try and understand how war can come to such a beautiful place, this museum is perhaps the most poignant tribute to a wartime enemy that paid the ultimate price when the tides of war began to change.
The story still resonates today, and rightly so. The romance of the Captain Corelli story may have drawn you to the island but the real story is far more compelling.