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How a real-life journey through the mythical lands of the ‘Odyssey’ helped heal my heartbreak

From Stromboli to Marettimo and on to Favignana, Laura Coffey embarked on her own journey of wonder through the lesser-discovered Mediterranean islands, thought to be the setting of the epic Greek poem. And just like Homer’s hero, she too found a world of intrigue and colourful characters...

Saturday 11 May 2024 06:00
Isle of wonder: just off the coast of Sicily is an archipelago steeped in myths
Isle of wonder: just off the coast of Sicily is an archipelago steeped in myths (Laura Coffey)

On the boat, I stared out to sea thinking about maps and getting lost, about imaginary islands and the places where geography and mythology collide. I was on my way to a mystical archipelago of islands just off Sicily, supposedly the real-life inspiration for the fantastical islands of the “Odyssey”.

I hadn’t planned to be chasing Odysseus around his island sea kingdoms and searching for mythical lands but my heart had been broken in various ways and I was sorely in need of grey-eyed, gold-shod Athena, Aeolus who rules the winds and all of the trickster gods, to be spun into their drama. To become enchanted.

Like Odysseus, my journey stretched out far longer than I expected. And just like him, I met an eccentric cast list of characters on the way: a sex therapist, Naked Andrew, a 70-year-old enthusiastic nudist, and a Menorcan ornithologist.

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