Villas and Apartments on Corfu on the Ionian Islands in Greece.
Ionian Islands A group of 7 main islands found on the western most edge of Greece in the ionian sea
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An Introduction to the Ionian Islands of Greece
An Introduction to the Ionian Islands of Corfu, Paxos, Lefkas, Ithaca, Kefalonia and Zante (Zakynthos) from Friends of the Ionian.
Italy and back in minutes
On the waterfront, relishing a breakfast of spinach pie and black coffee in the shade of a heavily-laden pomegranate tree, I felt triumphant. I had just staked my claim to a world record. Smiling, snowy-headed locals who had witnessed the feat confirmed it had never been done before. It would look good in the Guinness Book Of Records, I mused: The first person to swim, non-stop, from Greece to Italy - and back.
'Oh dear, you forgot to time yourself,' my wife chuckled. 'Ah well, I'll have to do it again before lunch,' I grinned. 'Nothing like getting the rehearsal right.'
The rocky, 600-yard, turtle-shaped islet of St Nicholas is a mere 200 yards off the northern tip of the seductive Greek island of Zante. But - more than 200 miles from Italy - it remains Italian, an outpost from the 300-year Venetian occupation of Zante.
Incredibly, uninhabited St Nicholas, passed on to Vatican ownership, was overlooked in the island's unification with Greece in 1864. So the international swimming record could legitimately be claimed, but I decided not to pursue the idea. I hadn't packed a stopwatch, anyway.
Idyllic, verdant Zante (population 37,000) is a small island, 23 miles by ten, roughly the size of the Isle of Wight. It captivated us. We explored the gem in the oh-so-blue Ionian Sea first by boat, taking a leisurely day-long cruise from Zante Town aboard the 145ft Delfini, which never reached its top speed of 17 knots.
There are 25 beautiful, top-rated beaches - and countless deserted coves accessed only by boat - on the island, including the longest in Greece, the six miles of golden sands at Laganas Bay, the breeding ground of the loggerhead turtle.
From the Delfini, we spied all of the beaches, stopping for a dip at three of them. The absolute must-stop is Smugglers' Cove in St George's Bay. Here, half-buried in the sand, lies the rusting wreck of a cigarette-smuggling cargo ship which ran aground in the late Eighties. It is one of the most famous sights of Greece, though suspicion surrounds the shipwreck story. Perhaps, so perfectly placed, bang in the middle of the cove, it was beached deliberately. What a coup by the island's tourism spin doctors.
At Cape Skinari, we were astonished as the sleek, white Delfini nosed into the Blue Caves. The refraction of the light turns everything in the water blue, even the boats.
Travel guide: Ionian Islands
A group of 7 main islands found on the western most edge of Greece in the ionian sea
|Zakynthos||Zante||Zakynthos Town||38,957 (2001)||410|
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Villas and Apartments on Corfu on the Ionian Islands in Greece