Vónitsa is a small seaside town on the Greek mainland, located on the southern coast of the Amvrakikos Gulf, approximately 10 miles east of Preveza. We have driven past it many times over the years and although it has always been on the list to visit in the boat, we have never quite made it there.
It is thought that the name of the town originates from the Slavic word ‘voda’ which means water (a place that has a lot of water). Vonitsa is situated on the edge of the wetland of the Amvrakikos Gulf, it is the largest wetland in Greece and is an important sanctuary for birds, fish and turtles.
As you approach you see the town being dominated by a large Venetian fort on top of a tree covered hill. There had been some rain during our journey here but thankfully it stopped as we arrived and moored in the small natural harbour below the fort.
A very inquisitive (and persistent) cat came on board to welcome us, first entering through the back hatch he strolled around down below investigating everything. Paul eventually evicted him so he decided to relax on our cockpit table. Feeling that he hadn’t seen enough of the boat, he looked around the deck then casually stepped down the companion way (which is quite steep) had another look around before laying on the bed. He had to be evicted several times despite us putting various obstacles in the way to try and prevent him re-entering! Eventually the owner of the boat next door realised that he was missing and called him back, apparently (like me) he always likes to look around other boats.
After making sure that all the hatches and the door were closed to prevent further visitors, we met up with some friends and went for a walk around the old town. It was very quiet as we walked through the narrow cobbled stone streets and town square with everything closed for siesta time.
We passed through the town and a wooded area to the small island of Koukoumitsa which is connected to the mainland via a newly built pedestrian bridge.
Among the pine trees on the island is the small humble chapel of Agios Nektarios which the faithful used to reach on foot through the water.
Vónitsa is a busy fishing town with many local fishing boats in the harbour. On return to the seafront it started to rain again so we decided to stop for dinner at one of the cafés to try some of the local catch of the day.
The following day started with a walk through pine and huge eucalyptus trees up the 65 metre hill to visit the fort at the top. It was erected by the Venetians in the 11th century on the remnants of the Byzantine castle that had stood there before it. Due to its strategic location it served to protect the inhabitants from pirates with its great views across the larger part of the Gulf.
Unfortunately, it was Tuesday which (unbeknown to us) is the one day of the week that the fort doesn’t open so we decided to walk around the outside of the tall stone perimeter walls instead. It started with a fairly wide track giving us spectacular views over the town and the gulf.
As we proceeded the trail became progressively overgrown, narrower and steeper. At approximately half way around there was no longer a clear way through and we were not sure whether to continue or turn back, but in the spirit of adventure we pushed on. As there had been some rain over the past couple of days, the ground was very slippery and we were having to hold onto the trees and bushes to try to stay on our feet. Eventually, slightly muddy and covered with twigs, we made it all the way around and arrived back at the entrance.
There were some strong southerly winds forecast so the next day we headed south to Vlikho bay back on Lefkas island, this is often our ‘go to’ anchorage particularly with wind from the south as it has great holding and would give us good shelter from the wind and swell. We stayed here a couple of days to wait for the strong wind to pass.
The calm before the storm!