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What’s left of Venice in Zante
What’s left of Venice in the urban landscape of Zante Town is, predictably, not much. (And it’s still more than what’s left of the British presence; apparently it’s limited to a soccer pitch in the old town fortress.)
Old Venetian crests feature in houses they built, both in the Ionian Islands and in Crete: they are a very common sight in Rethymnon.
Here they would have been toppled in the earthquake…
… And when people rebuilt, they popped them right back into the new house.
Three of the Ionian islands have prominent patron saints: Spyridon in Corfu, Gerasimus in Cephalonia, and Dionysius in Zante. The cults of the saints are huge: there are not that many Spiros in Corfu, but Cephalonia is full of Gerasimoses, and Zante of Dionysises, named after the saints.
I assumed that Dionysius was of the same vintage as Spyridon—presumably the first century St Dionysius the Areopagite. But to my surprise, both Gerasimus and Dionysius were born in the 16th century and were locals. So their cult was promoted by their own community.
Which is why it is possible that the birthplace of St Dionysus of Zacynthus, bishop of Aegina, is right next door to my hotel. (With impressive flowers spilling over from the next house.)
And that the first church he officiated in, St Nicholas of the Quay (του Μώλου) is still at the edge of the Central Square. It is one of only three churches that have been restored, and it looks very out of place next to its neoclassical neighbours.)
The tourist trade has also encouraged the city fathers to revive a practice we know the Venetians partook of:
Medieval Times, Zante edition. Something else I’ve just missed. Again.
And if you haven’t been reading that much creatine Renaissance literature, now you know both the Italian and hence the Cretan Greek word for jousting: τζιόστρα.
Or, according to the more literal-minded official language, “pole-battle”, κονταρομαχία.