|CAPTAIN CORELLI'S CEPHALONIA|
Metaxa, the Ithaka-born Greek dictator, said “Okhi” (No)
to fellow fascist Mussolini’s request to occupy Greece.
And thereby ensured a place in history. A small,
undeveloped nation - Greece - inflicted the first defeat
of World War II on the all-conquering AXIS forces.
However, they returned in numbers: on 30 September, 1941,
Kefalonia was occupied by the Italians. However, a
significant number of troops didn’t support their fascist
leader and, in August 1943, German troops ‘reinforced’ the
island. A month later Italy surrendered to the Allies.
Having surrendered, over 9,000 Italian soldiers were
massacred by the Nazis on Kefalonia.
The Italian war memorial can be found just outside Argostoli on the hill above Katovothres and next to the Catholic church on Lithostroto there’s a small museum dedicated to the soldiers.
Inspired by these inhumane true events, and the dangerously derelict remains of Farsa, destroyed in the ’53 earthquake, Louis de Berničres Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is a literary master-piece. The film, although not as well received, is undoubtedly a beautiful advert for the island of Kefalonia, where it was filmed.
|What wasn’t destroyed during
the war was mostly razed to the ground during the
devastating earthquake of 1953: little is left of Captain
Fiskardo is famous for its old buildings and Assos, too, has some impressive remains. One of the sources of inspiration for the book, the old, abandoned village of Farsa, can be seen above the 'new' village of the same name.
Old Skala has been largely lost to new tourist villas but the remains of old Valsamata still stand. Look very carefully and you might see the faded sign for the barber's shop on the wall of one of the buildings. Quite substantial remains can be seen at Harakti, on the mountain road between Poros and Sami, and at Kambitsata, in the hills outside Poros. The settlement of Asprogerakas, on the hill track from old Skala to Poros, although reconstructed after the earthquake, gives a good feel of a traditional hill village, as do the small settlements, such as Plagia, on the east coast road from Agia Efimia to Fiskardo.
Between Argostoli and Lassi, on the Piccolo Yiro, you can find the Red Villa (almost next to the recently restored Agion Theodorion lighthouse at Fanari) where many Italian soldiers were imprisoned before being walked up the coast. At the first road junction there is a rocky pit on the right. Peer between the green railings and the bushes and you will see a plaque on the wall, in Greek and Italian. This is where a number of Italians soldiers were massacred. Turn left at this junction and follow the lane as it winds up the hill and you will come to the Italian War Memorial. Continue along this road and you’ll come out by the old harbour in Argostoli.
If you want to check out the main locations used in the film:
Sami: the main set was built around the Kastro Hotel. Recreated as wartime Argostoli, the inspiration was the beautiful Venetian-inspired Corfu Town.
AntiSamos beach: where the landing craft came ashore and where the Italian encampment was based.
|Dikhalia village: the main set for the
village was built on the site of Dikhalia, between Sami
and AntiSamos, an original village lost during the
earthquake. Here, in the film, were the houses of Dr
Iannis and Drossoula. The set was dismantled after filming
but a large display board with still clips from the film might still remain.
Dr Yiannis' village, photo from Sami photo shop
|Paleo Vlakhata, Karavomylos: here, inland
from the duck pond, the firing squad scene was… shot, and
where the andartes (resistance) gathered arms.
Agia Fanentes Monastery: high in the hills above Sami, this is the location for the opening and closing festival scenes.
Sia Monastery: the love scene between Corelli and Pelagia was filmed at this old monastery near Myrtos.
Myrtos beach: where la Scala, Corelli’s musical ensemble, frolicked with the imported tarts and where Corelli detonated the old Turkish mine... while the villagers watched from the cliff above.
Horgota beach: Mandras’ beach, where he fished and where he threw Pelagia in to the sea from the jetty. The jetty was built for the film but was left intact when the crew departed, although over the years it seems to have been dismantled by souvenir-seeking tourists.