Fourteen kilometres south along the main road from Atháni, barren Cape Lefkátas drops abruptly 75m into the sea. Byron’s Childe Harold sailed past this point, and “saw the evening star above, Leucadia’s far projecting rock of woe: And hail’d the last resort of fruitless love”. The fruitless love is a reference to Sappho, who in accordance with the ancient legend that you could cure yourself of unrequited love by leaping into these waters, leapt – and died. In her honour the locals termed the place Kávos tis Kyrás (“lady’s cape”), and her act was imitated by the lovelorn youths of Lefkádha for centuries afterwards. And not just by the lovelorn, for the act (known as katapondismós) was performed annually by scapegoats – always a criminal or a lunatic – selected by priests from the Apollo temple whose sparse ruins lie close by. This purification rite continued into the Roman era, when it degenerated into little more than a fashionable stunt by decadent youth. These days, in a more controlled modern re-enactment, Greek hang-gliders hold a tournament from the cliffs every July.

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