Zakynthos, the island of music, poetry, hospitality … A corner of the Ionian Sea that stands out thanks to its distinct culture and customs. That is why many gave the island the name “Florence of the East”.
Its unique traditions, its uncommon tastes, its sunsets (less touristic than Santorini’ s but likewise unforgettable) and finally its unique beaches, a result of the seismicity of the island and the deep waters of the Ionian Sea… All this rightly gives Zakynthos a special place among the favourite destinations.
Sometimes, however, the reality comes to add a final touch to the masterpiece of nature.
Μodern Pirates of the Ionian and a shipwreck.
The older of the islanders can still remember the tiny beach with black stones named Spirili.
After 1922, landslides created the first remarkable beach. And in 1982, the shipwreck of the merchant ship “Panagiotis” came to take this beautiful beach out of its obscurity and to travel it all over the world.
The reason that has caused this naval accident was ..… piracy (at least as it is said). But the ship “Panagiotis” belonged not to Captain Jack Sparrow, but to a Kefalinian named Charalampos Kombotheklas and is said that was carrying contraband cigarettes from the ports of Yugoslavia and Albania, which would later be delivered by small high-speed boats to neighbouring Italy.
Two Italian smugglers, who were supervising the delivery of the load were the only foreigners between the crew and captain who had their origins in the neighbouring island of Kefalonia.
The Greek captain and crew captured the Italian smugglers and locked them in a room as they had already decided to sell off the illegal cargo for their own benefit. That’s why they led the ship to the Bay of Spyrilis, a rather unknown and hidden place, and waited. But the weather was bad and the ship got stranded in the shallow waters of the bay. In their try to set it afloat, they began to unload the cases with the packs of cigarettes on the tiny beach. But the situation was not easy, and the weather didn’t help. The waves swept away several cases with cartons of cigarettes and washed them everywhere in the surrounding area.
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The day after…
Under these circumstances, it was obvious that with the first light of the day, everybody would be in great danger. They set free the two Italians and tried to run away climbing the steep rocks. To find a way back to the city of Zakynthos, where they could easily hide themselves seemed to be their own hope.
In the meantime, after dawn, the residents of Volimes saw the cigarettes floating in the sea and began to collect them and stored them wherever they could, in warehouses, dwellings, ovens and stables. The fact that this “unexpected treasure” was packed in such a way that the content would not be destroyed if it ended up in the sea, was a very big advantage! Rumour has it that no tobacco products were sold on the island for the next four years.
The authorities hunted the smugglers down and arrested them. Later a trial followed, the shipowner and the smugglers were punished, the Italians were deported to their homeland and the cigarettes which were found sold in an auction.
Only fairy tales have always a good end.
After that began the looting of the ship.
As it was abandoned, everyone used to go there, in the beginning out of curiosity, later only for looting. They took everything they could carry. The whole ship got stripped and it stayed there, a ripped wreck to be beaten by the wind, to be destroyed and rusted by the sea and the waves. In the meantime gradually more and more stones piled up around the ship’s frame cutting off surely the contact of the ship with the sea. This is when the first photos were taken and the forgotten Bay of Spirilis became famous taking new names: “Navagio” and “Smugglers Cave”.
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