A UNIQUE NATURE...
POINTS OF INTEREST
The Cave of Rizes is located at the southeastern part of Ithaca. From Vathi taking the road to Marathia, and just before the area Anemodouri, the path that leads us to the cave starts. Inside, we can observe the impressive roots of an old fig tree, which probably give to the cave of Rizes its name. The cave is relatively spacious, for the facts of Ithaca, and for that reason, in the past it was used to house cattle. Also, some scholars mention that the Cave of Rizes could be related to the Homeric Cave of Eumaeus, Odysseus’ swineherd, in which he kept these cattle.
Monoliths of Anogi
The impressive monoliths also called “menhir” (in the Brettonic language, men = stone + hir = long) of Anogi constitute impressive isolated boulders of Upper Cretaceous (100.5-66.0My) limestones of the Ionian zone. They are scattered around the wider area of Anogi, the most mountainous village of Ithaca built at 550 meters of altitude on Mt Niritos, which is the highest mountain of the island. The “menhir” of Anogi are one of the most important attractions of the island. They have been incorrectly considered as prehistoric megalithic monuments; however their origin is purely geological and not anthropogenic (from rock or stone carving). Their striking shape, however, attracted the interest of the locals who have given names to the boulders based on their shape. Thus, the largest and most impressive boulder has been named "Araklis" (alliteration of "Hercules") (Figure 1) dedicated to the ancient hero. It has a spindle shape, and is located 600m east of the village standing at a height of 9m, while a total of about twelve smaller monoliths of various shapes and sizes have been found in the area (Cobra, Dolphins, Tulip, Odysseus' palm of the hand, Sheikh, Hippocampus, Turtles, Whirligig and Mushrooms).
Cave of Nymphs or Marmarospilia
The geosite cave of the Nymphs is located west of the capital of Ithaca, Vathi, at an altitude of 190 m above the bay of Dexa. The Cave of the Nymphs develops in white fine-grained limestones of the U. Jurassic-L.Cretaceous (163.5-100.5 My). The excavations at the Nymph cave revealed archaeological findings dating from Hellenistic and Roman times..
About five hundred meters from the village of Anogi in the area of Klismati is the cave of Bogordos. A very narrow entrance and the help of a five-meter ladder lead to a small but impressive cave, the only one with stalactites and stalagmites found in Ithaca.
The "hole" was known to the old Anoissans who not only did not want to know what was hidden inside it but tried to block it with stones so as not to "pop out the evil spirits"
No one had seen its interior until a few years ago, when Panos Moraitis-Bogordos decided to explore it. He enlarged the entrance and with the help of his brother Velissaris descended to it for the first time with a rope. Since then, apart from Panos, only four people have visited the cave. These are a couple of Germans and Demosthenes Syrmis with his friend the well-known speleologist George Avagianos who recorded the cave. (http://northithaca.blogspot.com/2014/07/blog-post_13.html)
Ithaca lies almost exclusively within the Ionian Zone. Except for small areas covered with flysch and marls in the north-westernmost part, it is dominated by limestones. Due to limestone dominance island Ithaca, lack surface water (Higgins & Higgins 1996, Stavropoulos 1991).
The actual vegetation of the island is largely moulded by agriculture dating back to ancient times. Terraced fields, nowadays partly abandoned, are extending to high altitudes. In particular, wide-stretching olive groves dominate the landscape. Intermixed are various degradation stages of mediterranean evergreen woodland, such as macchia and more intensely grazed garrigues, both dominated by sclerophyllous and spinous shrubs and lianas. However, floristic diversity is extraordinarily high, and anthropogenic influences have partly led to an enrichment of the local flora.
After the World Wars and the great Ionian earthquake of 1953, many Ithacans migrated away from Ithaca leaving their land and homes behind. Now with a small local population of around 3000 people, agricultural practices are greatly reduced and much of the island overgrows with colorful wildflowers and lush vegetation. Spring time in Ithaca is a spectacular sight. Although tourism is still very minimal, the island is literally buzzing. Wildflowers are everywhere and the walking trails are teeming with butterflies, beetles and giant bumblebees. The island’s butterflies are a conspicuous attraction with over 23 different species. The fields up around higher areas are alive with various types of colorful insects and flowers, and when you combine that with the glorious views of the Ionian, you really come to appreciate the natural beauty of the island. Night time in Ithaca is just as amazing. During the month of May there are areas where fireflies light up the dark with their fascinating bioluminescent mating displays. The soothing calls of Skops Owls can be heard near and far.
The mythical Ithaca, the island of Odysseus and a world symbol of hunger, is a hardy but sweet place that hosts in its small area many interesting species of flora and fauna of the Ionian. According to mythology, it took its name from Ithaca, son of King Pterelaos of Cephalonia. The root of the name connects the island with other etymologies such as from the word "Ithi" which means merry, from the Phoenician word "Utika" which means colony and from the word "Ithis" which means steep. Ithaca stretches next to Kefalonia and impresses with its lacy coastline and verdant hinterland.
The island is located in the northeast of Kefalonia, from which it is separated by the homonymous channel that has a length of 13 nautical miles, maximum width 4 nm. and a minimum width of 1.5 n.m. To the north is Lefkada and to the west are the coastlines of Etoloakarnania with a small Polynesia of uninhabited islands.
Ithaca looks like two islands connected by a narrow strip of land, the isthmus of the Aetos , 550 meters wide. It is an elongated island with a direction from north to south. The area of the island reaches 92.5 sq.km. and the length of the coastline is 105 km.
The main feature of Ithaca is the intense division of the east coast with its many beautiful bays, coves and capes and the mountainous, inaccessible geomorphology on the mainland. The largest mountains of the island are Mount Nirito with a height of 809 meters in the north, Merovigli or Mount Nion in the south with 669 meters and Nerovoulos, again in the south, with a height of 567 meters.
In Ithaca the limestones prevail and here are some remarkable caves, such as the cave of Rizes, of the Nymphs, the underwater cave of Loizos and the caves of Eumeos. Around the island there are many small and uninhabited islands, such as the small Lazareto, Nisopoulos, Agios Nikolaos, Skartsubonisi and a little further east, the larger islands Arkoudi and Atokos. Ithaca is a rocky and relatively arid island which is full of beautiful trails that end in ridges with impressive views and small beautiful beaches with turquoise waters.
In many places the dense vegetation is combined with the rough ground, making the crossing almost impossible. The presence of the famous forest of Perachori stands out on the island, or "Boss Loggos" with the beautiful native oaks, but also the forest of Anogi on Mount Niritos.
The tree vegetation consists of species, such as Aleppo pines, Shrub cypress, cypresses, holly, arias, day oaks, poplars, elms, afroxylia, wild olives, foliage, cockroaches, mycorrhiza, cucumber, wild boar, cucumber. It is important that in Ithaca there are also scattered chestnut trees. The shrub vegetation includes skin, laurels, thyme, lavender, oleanders, daffodils, asparagus, astivas, heather, milkweed, oilseeds, thorns, aphids, oregano, sage, reserves and capers. Many rare Ionian species grow on the island, such as the amaranth Limonium ithacense and Limonium saracinatum, the wild garlic Allium ionicum, the bellflower Campanula garganica subsp cephallenica, Saponaria aenesia, Stachys ionica and Galium ionicum. Other important species of the island are Leucojum ionicum, Scaligeria moreana, Ornithogalum ulixis, Alkanna corcyrensis, Campanula drabifolia, wild carnation Dianthus fruticosus subsp occidentalum, Colchic eposparis Moluccella spinosa, Teucrium halacsyanum, Fritillaria messanensis subsp gracilis, Consolida brevicornis, Arenaria peloponnesiaca, Poa cephalonica and Ranunculus asiaticus. The flora is supplemented with species such as Anthriscus tenerrimus, Bupleurum fruticosum, Crithmum maritimum, Eryngium maritimum, Heptaptera colladonioides, Arum italicum subsp italicum, Aristolochia sempervirens, Asparagus limelolium Ornithogalum prasinantherum, Ptilostemon stellatus, Brassica cretica subsp aegaea, Valeriana italica, Petrorhagia obcordata, Silene bellidifolia, Silene reinholdii and Silene ungeri, Sthedus lotus, Phedimus stellatos Linum pubescens subsp sibthorpianum, Orobanche baumanniorum, Cymbalaria microcalyx subsp minor, Veronica trichadena, Cosentinia vellea and Verbascum densiflorum. The orchids Anacamptis coriophora subsp fragrans, Anacamptis papilionacea, Anacamptis pyramidalis, Himantoglossum robertianum, Limodorum abortivum, Neotinea lactea, Neotinea maculata, Orchis anthropophica, Orchis, Orchis, Orchis Serapias vomeracea, Spiranthes spiralis, Ophr
Ithaca is located right on the great migratory passage of the Ionian Sea. There is only one wetland on the island, the small Aliki in the north, which is very important for the seabirds. The dense and inaccessible vegetation creates ideal conditions for rest and supply for many species of birds. In summer, the rare black peppers appear in the area. Other birds of prey on the island are the osprey, the hawk, the hawk, the hawk, the peregrine falcon and the rock hawk. From the nocturnal predators on the island live otters, owls and otters. Among the marine species here are found sea crows, artemisias, mice, herring gulls and winter gulls. The bird filled with island partridges, quail, woodcocks, birds, woodpigeons beans, European Nightjar, Swift, vounostachtares, hoopoes, kingfishers, Stravolemos, skylarks, dentrostarithres, vrachochelidona, miltochelidona, stavlochelidona, spitochelidona, livadokelades, dentrokelades, Eurasian Wren, nightingales charcoal , Cinderella, white-tailed deer, bluebirds, chewing gums, melodotsirovakos, mavrotsirovakos, kokkinotsirovakos, ohrostritsides, ashtomogyhaftes, azzapapaditses, eetomachos, kokkokefalades, karlakos
From the amphibians in Ithaca live Balkan frogs and tree frogs, while efforts are made to save the last green frogs that were previously more common. The reptile fauna on the island is distinguished by the presence of the Ionian osprey (Podarcis ionicus), the Kefalonian konaki (Anguis cephallonica) and an endemic subspecies of the Roumeli lizard (Algyroides nigropunctatus subsp kephallithacius). Caretta turtles often appear in the surrounding seas. Other species that live on the island are the river turtle, the Mediterranean turtle, the tarentola, the samiamid, the convex finger, the blind, the tranosaur, the Taurus gouster, the moraitosaurus, the avlefaros, the efios, the tree spear snake, the snake snake, the rotten viper and the viper. Of the mammals in Ithaca, few species appear, such as asparagus, petrokunava, hares, hedgehogs and some species of small rodents and bats. The passages of the island are very important in terms of marine mammals. Mediterranean seals live in Ithaca, while the presence of rhinoceros and common dolphins is frequent. Impressive fin whales occasionally appear off the island, while flocks of tuna often appear on the canal to Kefalonia. Finally, some rare endemic invertebrates are found on the island, such as the dolichopoda ithakii and the isopods Armadillidium jonicum and Paxodillidium schawalleri.