With its past on the verge between myth and history, Zakynthos has been said to be founded and named after the son of the legendary Dardanus, to be conquered later by Odysseus , mythological king of Ithaca. Known are the alliances with Athens and Sparta, the submission to the Romans and the Venetian domination, that left the island to the Austrians, until it became a British protectorate.
In other words, Zakynthos mirrors, with its current cosmopolitan appearance, the historical succession of so many different cultures, come harmoniously together.
But the most amazing aspect is the natural wild beauty of the western coast, with white sandy beaches between rocky cliffs, the color of the water in all her nuances, toning down from the pale-blue to the lightest turquoise of Navagio Beach, a not to be missed!
The coast and the see inspired many artists and writers, among others the Italian Ugo Foscolo, who dedicated to the Island his renowned “To Zakynthos”.
Never will I touch your sacred shore again
where my young form reclined at rest,
Zakynthos, regarding yourself in waves
of the Greek sea, where Venus was
virgin born, and made those islands bloom
with her first smile; nor did he bypass
your lacy clouds and leafy fronds
in glorious verse, the one who sang
of fatal seas, and of the broad exile
after which, exalted by fame and by adventure,
Ulysses kissed his rocky native Ithaca.
You will have nothing of your son but his song,
motherland of mine: and our fate already
written, the unmourned grave.
Né più mai toccherò le sacre sponde
ove il mio corpo fanciulletto giacque,
Zacinto mia, che te specchi nell’onde
del greco mar da cui vergine nacque
Venere, e fea quelle isole feconde
col suo primo sorriso, onde non tacque
le tue limpide nubi e le tue fronde
l’inclito verso di colui che l’acque
cantò fatali, ed il diverso esilio
per cui bello di fama e di sventura
baciò la sua petrosa Itaca Ulisse.
Tu non altro che il canto avrai del figlio,
o materna mia terra; a noi prescrisse
il fato illacrimata sepoltura.
Sonnet “A Zacinto” written 1802-1803.
From the Italian poet Ugo Foscolo (b. Zakynthos 1778 – d. England 1827).