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Greece's insider take:

The only redeeming quality of the 2001 film Captain Corelli's Mandolin may have been that it showcased the gorgeousness of Cephalonia, the largest of the Ionians. As the movie made clear, beaches are the main reason to come here—especially the pine-tree-lined Anti-Samos, on the mid-eastern coast, and the white sandy crescent of Myrtos, just north of the capital city of Argostoli (both had cameos in the film). Also worth a visit are two dramatic underground caves: Melissani Lake, where the blue water is surrounded by overarching limestone walls; and the stalactite-festooned Drogarati Cave, which is so large that Maria Callas once gave a concert in its chamber. Persa's Tours runs trips to both (30-267-108-1075;, as well as to the 5,341-foot Mt. Ainos in the center of the island, where you can go hiking and sometimes see herds of wild horses. Of the many charming villages that dot the coast, the most compelling is Fiskardo, at the northern end. The only town on Cephalonia that remained untouched by the devastating 1953 earthquake (which registered 7.3 on the Richter scale), Fiskardo is full of preserved tile-roofed Venetian-style buildings and adorable tavernas. The capital city of Argostoli is even more cosmopolitan; it's chockablock with shops, cafés, and bars.

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