Corfu

A tiny bit of history…

Corfu is the second largest island in the Ionian Sea.

The island’s history goes back to Greek mythology. Its Greek name, Kerkyra, comes from the nymph Corcyra, daughter of the river Asopos. According to a myth, Poseidon, god of the sea, fell in love with the beautiful nymph Corkyra and abducted her. Corfu is identified by archaeologists with the mythical island of Phaeacians.In Homer’s Odyssey Odysseus is washed ashore in Scheria (the land of Phaeacians) after days of struggle with the sea-waves. On the other hand, the name “Corfu”, an Italian version of the Byzantine Κορυφώ, meaning “city of the peaks”, derives from the Greek Κορυφαί (Koryphai), denoting the two peaks of the old fortress.

The sites…

While wandering in the old town, it becomes evident that Corfu was under foreign control for a very long time. It has been said that “Corfu town is Venice and Naples, a touch of France and more than a dash of England, apart of course from being Greek”. That is logical, considering it has been under Venetian, Russian, French and British rule, until its final union with Greece. One can find many historic sites in and around the town: The impressive 15th century Old Fortress, as well as the New Fortress, Spianada, the largest square in Balkans, Liston, the city’s trademark, the church of Saint-Spyridon, The Palace of St. Michael and St. George (museum of Asian art), Dionysios Solomos Museum, Mon Repos Palace, Palaiopolis (where the ancient Agora used to be) and last but not least Achilleion (palace built by the empress Elizabeth of Austria). Moreover, Corfu was home to the Ionian Academy, the first Greek academic institution established in modern times. It is considered as the precursor of the Ionian University, established in 1984. (Fun fact: In June 2007, based on the ICOMOS evaluation of the old town of Corfu, it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.)

…and the views:

Apart from its rich multi-cultural heritage, Corfu is also known for its stunning natural landscape, which combines the harshness of the cliffs , the green which overwhelms the whole place and the six small bays with the unbelievably crystal water on a beach with hills and capes covered by olive trees, cypress trees and lemon trees.

A taste of Corfu…

We cannot, however, forget the food. The old town is full of tavernas where one can try Corfu’s traditional dishes, like Sofrito and Pastitsada, as well as other greek foods for every taste. The island is also famous for its production of kumquat, a peculiar fruit that is however ideal for liqueurs, jams and glyka tou koutaliou, in other words traditional Greek spoon sweets (namely fruit in syrup). As for drinks, Corfu is famous for its incredibly tasty ale, which is always worth a try. And of course, there is Gingerbeer (or “Tsitsibeera” for the locals): Corfu was a British protectorate and gingerbeer is one of the British style drinks that the locals adopted with enthusiasm.

And now for something completely different:

There are more things to do in Corfu than just the food and the sites. One of these is meeting the people. The Corfiots are generally hospitable and fun, and one can easily observe the everyday life of the town by having a coffee in one of the cafes in the old town, taking a stroll in the people, picturesque “kantounia” (the narrow streets of the city), or just relaxing on the grass of Spianada and enjoy the calm and easy-going nature of life in Corfu.