<<… and Zeus was so proud about the imminent birth of his son, who would have reigned over the house of Tirinto […] And finally the long-awaited day came: Heracles was born; his first cry announced the fame of his future deeds.>>

The mother Alcmena immediately understood that the child would be persecuted by the notorious fury of the queen of heaven, Hera. Baby Heracles, thanks to a stratagem of Alcmena, managed to take a sip of milk from the breast of the Goddess. It was enough to acquire his divine essence. The countless attempts at murder by Hera were vain, as she considered little Heracles the fruit of Zeus’ betrayal.

Heracles grew up, becoming a healthy and strong boy. The most meticulous care and careful education was not spared on him. Amphitryon, his tutor, was prodigal of lessons for the spirit and the body, teaching him to tame horses and drive a chariot. From every corner of Greece came the most illustrious and well-known masters lecture him about arts, sciences, and physical strength.

However, when he was guilty of the murder of his music teacher, Lino, the life of Heracles changed forever, and all the events that subsequently happened were triggered by that unfortunate moment. The wrathful character of Heracles radically changed his destiny, with all the consequences that followed. Forced to live among the guardians of his own flocks, He did not, however, renounce to his education.

At the age of eighteen, Heracles – handsome, strong and wise – had become the symbol of virility and self-denial, always alongside the weakest. He continued to listen to the advice of the Duty which, under the guise of a beautiful woman, gave him a life with a winding path yet respectable, and which would have been handed down to posterity. Following his choice, Heracles started with his first deeds, lavishing himself for the good of others, fighting against bandits and petty thieves. He was on the Argonauts’ expedition, married Megara, from whom he had eight children, who all found death by his own hand, because of the Anger – in agreement with stepmother Hera – which upset his mind.

Having prevented suicide, after a consulting with the Delphi oracle, Heracles did his best to face the notorious twelve labors with courage and wit, symbol of the eternal struggle between man and nature, man and his fears, in the wildest and most terrible form.

Many others were the vicissitudes that Heracles had to face: all his life he had to fight against his demons, the demons of all men – the feelings – until he found peace in death, also violent at the end of a life so troubled, between the flames and spasms caused by the poison of which his clothes were soaked…

Olympia and Katakolon (Ph. by Valentina Contavalle)

Olympia and Katakolon (Ph. by Valentina Contavalle)

This is only a legend. And yet, we like to imagine this hero, perhaps while still wandering among the ruins of Olympia. Because that’s our new destination, in the footsteps of the heroes and gods, between Greek history and traditions that make this culture immortal.

Before reaching the Olympia site, a stop at the small town of Katakolon is unmissable.

Katakolon was just a small fishing village before the construction of a modern port that allows the docking of cruise ships to allow cruise passengers to visit the archaeological site. Beside cruises, this city lives mainly from beach tourism and fishing income. Today it’s a charming seaside town, small but alive and prosperous.

It’ll be possible to visit Katakolon in complete relaxation, shopping among the many shops in the only street of the town. Continuing along on it, you’ll find the small church of Agios Nikolas, the saint of Katakolon, located just above the city; all you’ll have to do is walk down a staircase to see it.

Not far from the church, an interesting stop is the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology, with a very low-priced entry ticket. Katakolon is also famous for its lighthouse: it’ll be exciting to imagine ancient maritime feats in front of the foam of the waves and caressed by the sea breeze.

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