Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Set Your Sights on Kefalonia; SELF-CATERING REVIEW VILLA CHRISTINA Kefalonia, Greece

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Set Your Sights on Kefalonia; SELF-CATERING REVIEW VILLA CHRISTINA Kefalonia, Greece

Article excerpt


AHEAVY electric gate at the end of a dirt track through olive groves is the first indication that Villa Christina might be something special. The house, a 25-minute drive from Kefalonia airport (through countryside made famous by Captain Corelli's Mandolin), is a strikingly modern affair enjoying a privileged and extremely private position on an unspoiled, clifftop plot.

It's one of 37 properties managed by Unique Kefalonia, a rental agency specialising in villas with exceptional views. In Christina's case, that view is across the sea towards Zakynthos, the southernmost of the Ionian chain, with the mainland visible atop the horizon -- when the summertime heat haze permits.

Screened on both sides by steep bluffs, Villa Christina's strong, clean lines suggest Bauhaus influences and it's equally impressive inside. A large, open-plan living space nearly fills the ground floor, which flows out through wall-to-wall sliding glass doors to an infinity pool and garden terrace. Glass panels beyond, at the cliff 's very edge, ensure there is no interruption to those staggering views.

A sweeping staircase leads from the living space past the first of five ensuite bedrooms. There are three more upstairs, including a master suite (with sea-facing balcony) that takes up the full width of the house. The fifth bedroom is down in the basement, along with a sauna, steam room, small gym and home cinema.

But despite all these indoor distractions, it's the outside that holds the most allure. As well as the pool, there's plenty of space for lounging around, plus a large cooking station and shaded dining area to maximise outdoor living. And when the lure of the jewel-coloured sea can no longer be ignored, a steep, wooden staircase provides private access to a discrete, rocky cove where sea turtles swim.

The extraordinary position and privacy of the house make it incredibly hard to leave, but if diversion does beckon there's plenty to do nearby -- though you will need a car. Most of Kefalonia's sandy beaches are in the south and east, putting them within easy striking distance. The best-known beach, pebbly Myrtos, can be included in a road-trip incorporating the stalactite-filled Drogarati Cave (where opera legend Maria Callas once performed) and pretty Fiskardo village. …

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