Preserving the Past
Farsa, a small mountain village overlooking the bay is located north of Argostoli, East of Lixouri and South of Fiskardo on the Argostoli Fiskardo Road, was developed during the Venetian occupation, some 400 years ago. However, in 1953, the big Earthquake destroyed every building in the village. The entire population at that time were left homeless. While some of the inhabitants settled in other parts of the island, others who had also abandoned their mountainside village started a new settlement further down the slope.
In 2003, some 50 years later, Huxley College of Environment part of Western Washington University in Bellingham WA, US, offered to sponsor a research program and Farsa was chosen as a pilot project. Although most of the remnants of the 160 former structures were still intact, when the village leaders and island officials met with the program faculty management team, they emphasised the importance of preserving the villages past while planning for a sustainable future.
Because the skeletal template was undisturbed after the quake, using modern technology, the students could accurately develop baseline site plans of the 400-year-old historic village and with the assistance of the former villagers, now living in the new&'146; Farsa Village further down the slope, individual homes were identified and a building programme began to take shape in this seventeenth century village.
During the summer months, when many Farsans return to the island for their summer vacations, the faculty presented their findings and recommendations at community meetings in Farsa and in Athens, where a large proportion of villagers now reside, to report on their progress to ensure that a general agreement is reached. The ruins of the old village are still clearly visible on the mountainside, evoking memories, nostalgia, and a hope that is being realised as the restoration work progresses.
To the Farsans, the program has served as a catalyst for reawakening their dream of a village restoration after a 50-year dormant period. And, to the students who, in 2006, received recognition of the their achievements, when the project received the Mediterrania Honorific Award, a prestigious international recognition for its innovative applied research approach to sustainable rural development, by using the skills they have acquired through the program other cultural community projects will be able to benefit