Kefalonia : Ag Gerasimos and Old Valsamata

We had hired a car for the duration of our stay in Kefalonia this time, which meant we could do a few more of the walks from the excellent Walk And Eat Kefalonia book by Brian and Eileen Anderson.  We were building up to the Mount Ainos walk (after I mistakenly failed to reach the summit last time, which you can read about here), so this morning, as the thunder and lightning had passed from the night before,

Lightning (and there was thunder but it does not show up in the photo)

Lightning (and there was thunder but it does not show up in the photo)

we headed off in the sunshine to do the walk around Ag Gerasimos and Old Valsamata.

We drove over from Lassi, taking the road into the near edge of Argostoli, going along the coast to the other side of the bay, before cutting across the island through Razata on the road towards Sami.  Very soon we reached a junction and taking the right fork took us towards Ag Gerasimos.  It was an easy drive and sufficiently well signposted.  We would be coming back to Lassi by another road which would complete the circle.  Before we started the walk itself we explored the monastery complex of Ag Gerasimos, and I have to say it is stunning throughout.

Ag Gerasimos

Ag Gerasimos

It is set in such a serene location, is dominated by a building which is magnificent from the outside, even in the shadow of the surrounding mountains, and which has interiors that are beyond description.  We began in this imposing new church, entering through the door along the left-hand side, and were immediately struck by the splendour inside.

Going for the wow factor !

Going for the wow factor !

Every surface seems to be covered in some way and the lights down the centre were staggering even though they were not lit up.  The little church in the convent of New Jerusalem was no less ornate or splendid,

Breathtaking

Breathtaking

and we were fortunate enough to be there while a blessing and veneration took place.  We were also fortunate that the nuns had a selection of skirts available to borrow outside so that Debbie could be appropriately dressed to enter.

No hotpants allowed

No hotpants allowed

We left the complex through the high bell tower, to begin our walk.

The bell tower

The bell tower

The walk begins on the road opposite the monastery, going uphill towards Mixata.  As it swept right we stayed ahead uphill on a concrete road before turning left at a crossroads of the tracks.

Wonderful countryside

Wonderful countryside

We were now on a track and walking across a gorge with wonderful and extensive views of where we had come from over the Omala plain, and all in the shadow of the mountains and under the sun on a beautiful day which was not too hot.  Very soon we reached the first ruins of old Valsamata, destroyed in 50 seconds in the earthquake of 1953, but the ruins still give a wonderous representation of the village that would have stood here.

Old Valsamata

Old Valsamata

We headed towards the village church, and then behind that up the old village street, before returning to the church to continue the walk past the church tower with its Venetian-style base and then the smaller, more recent chapel of Ag Paraskevi.  We kept along the main track now as it slowly wound its way to new Valsamata, going downhill on a concrete track to the left which became a stony track and ran alongside the wall of the boundary of Moni Aiyon, and we kept going until we reached a road, turning left to walk into the village.

It is a lovely village to walk through and when we came to a major tarmac road we turned right uphill to pass the church and two war memorials on our right, before going on to a crossroads and turning left to take the road out of town.  We turned left downhill when we got to a no-entry sign, crossed the next road and took the steps down to the main road to Ag Gerasimos, stopping at Denni’s taverna, which we had spotted on our initial drive in.  Denni does not appear to have a menu and instead tells you what he has been cooking that day.  We had one of each, with Debbie having the chicken with potatos and I had the spaghetti with a tomato sauce, both of which were delicious.

That's today's menu

That’s today’s menu

In fact, that was the best spaghetti I ate all holiday.  Denni also brought us two plates piled high with his grapes, because, as he put it, he “had a lot,” and they were very tasty too.  We were suitably refreshed and followed the road past the holy well in the centre of the roundabout before we got back to the car.  We did not stop, however, as we carried on along the track to the right of the monastery, which curled round to the left and rose up to the Robola Winery, where we were able to take a tour of the facilities before Debbie enjoyed a wine tasting of three of their products.  We bought a bottle of their red.

They bottled the view...

They bottled the view…

We walked back to the car, which was parked in front of the monastery, and we had noticed their was a sign for Argostoli pointing up that road, so we decided to follow it.  This kept us inland and took us through Troianata before we passed the imposing St George’s Castle and joined the main road from Skala to Argostoli, which is a road we would use a few more times this holiday.

We walked for 4.5 miles in total.

You can see more photographs from the monastery here.

You can see more photographs from the walk here.

You can see more photographs from the winery here.

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