Melissani Cave, The Cave of the Nymphs

Since our ordeal with the builders plastic and the sail drive, we have been parked up in a cute little town on Cephalonia called Sami. I mentioned in my previous post that this is where they filmed Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. What I didnt know until last night (because I havn’t seen the movie or read the book) that there is truth in the story. From talking to the loverly old Dutch couple a few boats up, during the war there were 1000 Italian soldiers based in Cephalonia during the War. The Italians, developed a good relationship with the locals and co-existed. The Germans however were not to happy with how close everyone was getting so, even though Italy was and Ally, they killed all the Italian soldiers on the Island. All for what I would think a not so strategic site in this day and age.

Sami and Cephalonia has a rich history as being a strategic port for trading acting as a gateway between the east and western Mediterranean 1000s of years ago. During the Roman Occupation Sami was the Last town to surrender after being under siege for years.

One of the main attractions here is the Melissani cave, also known as the cave of the Nymphs is situated about 2kms from Sami. The Melissani cave is the largest of a network of underwater caves across Cephalonia that are all interconnected. Legend has it that it is named after a young shepherd girl call Melissanthi who found that lake while looking for one of her sheep that had wandered off. When she came upon the banks of the lake, she was so frightened that she would fall in, she left in a hurry, since that day the lake has been know as the lake of Melissani. The more romantic version is that the nymph Melissanthi killed herself in this very same lake because the God Pan would not return here love. This has some credence as archaeologists have unearthed a clay idol of the god Pan as well as a clay disk with at representation of Nymphs dancing in a circle and a clay tile with the procession of Nymphs walking towards the left. Archaeologists have dated these finds to the late 4th to early 3rd century BC and believe it was an important place of worship for the locals of that time.

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