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Arts and Culture

The island’s disrupted history left its mark on the local culture with many Western-European elements being creatively assimilated into its authentic culture, the arts, the music, the dance and folklore. At traditional and folklore festivities, local traditional dances such as the balos, the dibaratikos and the manetas give way to music and dances such as the waltz and the tango from the nobility of the European middleclass of 1920. In addition, the kantrilies, dancing around the traditional Greek maypole, stand apart from Kefalonian carnival, whereas, even to this day, in the narrow streets of Argostoli, the more fortunate will come across traditional serenaders with the accompaniment of a guitar.

Artistic creativity on the island of Kefalonia was succeeded by the so called “Heptanese School” (or Ionian Island’ School) (18th century), a school of post- byzantine art that marked the departure from the traditional representations and the shift to Renaissance and Baroque trends. In this context, Kefalonia offered remarkable painting, sculptures, ecclesiastical art, architecture and literature to the spiritual rebirth of the Ionian Islands and Greece. Local traditional architecture undoubtedly played a significant role in the local culture with its dominant and characteristic form having a strong Renaissance and Baroque influence, maintaining the Heptanese Architectural style, but with simpler and well-balanced lines. Nevertheless, the successive earthquake of 1953 caused major destructions in the northern part of the island and leaving very few old buildings intact.

Lastly, activities and events dominate modern day culture, especially during the summer months with the most significant being the Eortia in Sami, the Choir Festival in Argostoli and Lixouri, the Robola Festival, and other artistic events held at the “Kefalos” Municipal Theatre in Argostoli, in Sami, in Poro, Myrto beach and Skala. Furthermore, carnivals and various folklore events such as festivals and religious celebrations are held from one end of the island to the other.


Captain Corelli and the Infantry Division Acqui. A tragic story took place on Kefalonia during World War II. In proportion with its size and population, Kefalonia accommodated one of the largest Italian military units, the Infantry Division Acqui. In 1943, after the Treaty with Italy concluded by the Allies, the Division spontaneous resisted the German forces and the outcome of this conflict was tragic given that 5000 Italian soldiers were executed and another 7000 were taken captive and led onto ships some of which were sunk before reaching mainland Greece. This incident shattered the local community, which at the same time, was counting its own losses. The story because famous with the movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin starring Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz, which was filmed on the island in the year 2000.


The progressive Kefalonian...The island’s residents have been known for their boldness, their political intransigence and the liberal stance so much so that even Lord Byron came to love them, so it is said. Kefalonia has been the place of origin of many poets, novelists, scientists and politicians, such as A Lascaratos, P Katsaitis, N Cavvadias, G Molfetas, J Typaldos, P Calligas, S Skadaresis, B Anninos and others, all of whom, with their works or ideas, hold a place in the renaissance of Greece and in history.

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