The Ionian Island Group is composed of 7 islands (Eptànissa in modern Greek) each of them with a distinct character and one more beautiful than the other. They lie off the west coast of Greece and start with Corfu and Paxos in the north, Lefkada, Ithaca and Kefalonia in the Central Ionian and Zakynthos in the south.
Ionian Islands are the most famous sailing destination in Greece. The Ionian islands, specificly Ithaca (modern Itháki) were the Homeric realm of Odysseus. Here alone, of all the modern Greek territory, the Ottomans never held sway – except on Lefkádha.
After their fall possession passed over to the Venetians, and the Ionian Islands became a pillar for the Venetian Maritime Empire. Although most of the population never accepted Italian as their official language and the Roman Catholicism as their religion, the Venetian influence remains evident in the architecture of the island.
On Corfu (Kerkyra), the Venetian culture is mixed with a British influence, which comes from the military “protectorate” established over the Ionian Islands during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1864 the archipelago was officially declared Greek.
Today there is no doubt about the population's Greekness: the poet Dhionyssios Solomos, author of the national anthem, hailed from the Ionians, as did Nikos Mantzelos, who provided the music, and the first Greek president, Ioannis Kapodhistrias.
The rich multi-cultural heritage, the historic monuments, the stunning natural landscape, the crystal clear seas, and the excellent weather all year round explain why Corfu is one of the most cosmopolitan Mediterranean destinations weaving a powerful spell on its visitors.