north-west corner of the map of Corfu, three small islands of barren
appearance, of barren soil and of barren recollection, are now
beginning to develop for tourism. If you are seeking solitude and
peace, search for the Diapontian Islands.
Diapontian Islands were colonised after the sea battle of Naupactos
in 1571, when the islanders, who were under Venetian rule, started
to move away in search of greater safety. It was then that people
from Paxos and Parga came to Othonoi and once their families
increased in size, they crossed to the other two islands. Thus is
explained the number of surnames which are common to all three
islands and also to Paxos. A strong characteristic of the islanders
is their intense desire to emigrate to America and Australia, a
tendency which began in 1850.
Pita and bread maker at Othoni island
forms the westernmost point of Greece. It covers 10.8 square
kilometres, with a width of about 3.6 kilometres, a length of about
5.6 kilometres, and a coastline covering 30 kilometres. Five
settlements are scattered over the island, but during winter only
Ammos and Stavros have any sort of life. It is a wonderful place for
visitors, perfect for a sailing holiday but also for quiet holidays
ashore. It is a poor region, and the few islanders who have not
emigrated live from fishing and from their few olive trees (36,000
of life led by the people today, however, is not indicative of the
island's history. At one time, boats approaching and leaving the
Adriatic Sea used to stop here and the harbour of Ammos was always
busy. Some ruins on nearby Kastri Hill, probably of a Venetian
fortress, and the former Italian name of the island, Fanos, indicate
that a lighthouse of great importance to shipping once stood here.
The Othoniots were skilled seafarers and built their own caiques. In
addition, the island was famed for its good climate, and it is said
that during the British Protectorate sick soldiers would be sent
here to recuperate.
the boat will leave you at Ammos, a little bay with a pretty beach,
where the few shops that exist on the island are located. Footpaths
and tracks connect with the interior of the island, a paradise for
lovers of walking. In the centre of the island lies the settlement
of Stavros, on the slopes of 'Mount' Kalodiki (217 metres). Most of
the seashore is rocky and precipitous, but in the west there is the
beautiful beach known as 'Aspri Ammos' (White Beach), with the
'Calypso' cave, and to the north is the Bay of Fiki.
Othoni Island/Aspros Ammos
The Castle of Othoni
Erikoussa is a round island two kilometres in diameter with a
population of around 90. It is said that the name is derived from
the heather (reiki), which is to be found all over the island. The
configuration of the landscape resembles that of Sidari, on the
coast of Corfu opposite. The south coast, where the solitary
settlement of Porto is located, is one immense stretch of sand which
attracts many visitors from Corfu. A footpath leads northwards
through lush vegetation to Pangini Beach. In all, there are 6
settlements on Erikoussa, with about 20 houses each.
smallest of the Diapontian Islands, Mathraki is located 4 nautical
miles from the Cape of Arillas and is 3 square kilometres in size.
Its coastline forms bays, of which the two largest, Ammos and
Apidies, are used as harbours by the small boats operating the route
between Corfu and Mathraki. It boasts beaches of fine sand and is
encircled by reefs, shoals and rocks which attract all the fishing
boats of the region. At the two extremities of the island stand the
twin villages of Ano and Kato Mathraki. You will also find two
hotels with fine views and several picturesque little tavernas.