The Omala Valley is a small community in the centre of Kefalonia and has lots to offer visitors. The settlement sits 700m above sea level and with Mount Ainos providing the perfect environment to grow grapes, there are many vineyards here.
The Monastery of Saint Gerasimos is located in the Omala valley. Agios Gerasimos is the patron saint of Kefalonia and his relics have been preserved here for hundreds of years. Every year, in memory of the saint, two great festivals are held; the first of these is on the 16th August, which is the anniversary of the day after his death in 1579. The second is held on the 20th October, which is the anniversary of the day his remains were recovered intact in 1581. It is during these festivals that the remains of the saint are passed over the sick with the hope that they may be cured. He received his sainthood when the patriarchate canonised him in 1622.
Next door to the Monastery is the winery where they produce the famous Kefalonian Robola wine; pop in to see how everything works and sample this locally produced wine – it goes nicely with a Kefalonia sunset from your balcony.
Near to the monastery are what remains of the original village of Valsamata, now known as Palia Valsamata. It was the main settlement in the area at the time of the 1953 earthquake and was all but destroyed, but many of the buildings are remarkably well preserved. The new village of Valsamata was established shortly after and today it thrives with a population in excess of 700. You can also see earthquake period ruins above the neighbouring village of Fragata.
You can arrange to join a guided tour which takes in this part of Kefalonia and although you cannot see the sea, all around is stunning scenery and magnificent views.
If you intend on hiring a car, it’s worth driving around the picturesque villages in the valley; Valsamata, Fragata, Michata and Panochori are traditional Greek villages and there are some excellent tavernas in the area.
Mount Ainos is the highest mountain on Kefalonia with an elevation of 1,628 meters. It was declared a national park in 1962 and is frequently visited by tourists and locals alike.
If you drive along the Mt. Ainos road from the north west you can park your car at the transmitter station and continue you journey on foot. After following the dirt track for about 10 minutes you will come across a sign post by some steps on your right – go up the steps and continue walking for a further 10 minutes until you reach the summit. The views are breathtaking and on a clear day you can see the north west Peloponnese, Ithaka, Lefkada and Zakynthos. There are a few walking trails should you want to experience the mountain on foot, you may encounter the semi-wild horses, golden toothed goats, reptiles and many other weird & wonderful creatures along the way. If walking remember to take plenty of water and be careful in the midday sun. Don’t forget to sign the visitors book when you reach the top – it is in a container strapped to a concrete post.