Wishing you all a very happy Christmas! Below is the choir singing Corfu Christmas Carols - enjoy!
A much-awaited TV series started in Greece this week. It is the serialisation of Victoria Hislop 's novel The Island. What makes it especially gratifying is the fact that the bestselling author rejected six-figure offers from Hollywood to turn her debut novel about a leper colony off Crete into a blockbuster film.
The Island has sold more than 1m copies in Britain alone, won several awards and been translated into more than a dozen languages, but Hislop chose Greek TV to dramatise her story for a fraction of the fee. She said, "What I wanted, and will now get, is a chance to have a say in the TV series. I feel much happier with some of my input and knowing that the Greeks, who took the book to their heart, will care about making the series and keep loyally to the plot. I was simply not happy with the approaches from America. I was worried what might happen to my story and my characters."
The island of the title is Spinalonga, just off Crete. Schoolteacher Eleni is diagnosed with leprosy and is exiled to Spinalonga, leaving behind her husband and two beautiful daughters on Crete. Years later, Eleni's great-granddaughter Alexis returns to Crete to find answers to her family's mysteries.
The 26-part TV drama employed about 300 local actors and Hislop herself owns a house on Crete with her husband, Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye magazine.
Kudos to Victoria Hislop, I say!
Continuing our series of Corfu Lists Of 10, below are 10 traditional tavernas and restaurants in Corfu, including one on the nearby small island of Paxi.
Prices listed are for a 3-course meal for one, including a half bottle of wine and all taxes and extra charges. These are just to give you an idea of the prices of each establishment.
I came across this British Pathe short film of Corfu from 1962. Tourism on the island was quite different at that time! Notice the empty beach and the lack of cars on the roads! It also shows some villagers collecting prickly pears - something that hasn't changed, see our previous post here.
I can highly recommend this guide in the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Top 10 Guides series. Not least because I was personally involved (in my own small way!) in the preparation of the guide.
The guide contains dozens of Top 10 lists for Corfu and the Ionian Islands - whether you have plenty of money or are on a limited budget. From the Top 10 bays and beaches to the Top 10 myths & legends, picture postcard villages and outdoor activities. To save you time and money, there is even a list of the Top 10 Things to Avoid.
The guide is up to the usual excellent standards of all Dorling Kindersley publications and I suggest you obtain a copy before you visit Corfu and / or the other islands.
I've just come across this new Corfu website, which I think is a great initiative. It's called Green Corfu and as the name would suggest, it aims to promote a 'greener' side to Corfu than that known to most people.
As the site says in its introduction - Corfu is a green island, because of its lush vegetation all year round, full of olive trees, cypresses, and a wealth of other plants, insects, birds and animals. It’s an island that is ideal for tourism all year round. You can walk through the beautiful countryside, go horse-riding over ancient paths, cycle amid awe-inspiring olive groves, taste traditional local products, visit traditional wineries, olive presses, picturesque churches and ancient castles, relax and come in contact with pure natural beauty.
You can find sections on Nature, Eating, Healing, Corfiot Products, Recycling / Green Energy, Walking and Accommodation. It's well worth a visit and I wish them all the best!
I have just been reading that research has shown that the Prickly Pear cactus can be used to purify water up to a degree of 98%. I've written a post about it in my other blog Be The Change.
I previously wrote about Prickly Pears in Corfu here - we have several cacti around the house and they are extremely prevalent on the island as a whole. So, I'm going to investigate and see exactly how it is done and give it a try - apparently, it's quite simple and was common practice amongst 19th century Mexican communities.
It is the actual cactus that is used, not the fruit, and you need to cut it up and boil it, but I'm going to try and find the exact method. Hopefully, I'll be able to publish the results here soon!
Today is the final Sunday before Lent, which means it's the day of the final Carnival here in Corfu as well as in the rest of Greece. Unfortunately, it's cold and rainy today, which is a bit of a dampener.
The Carnival has its roots in Ancient Greece and in Corfu especially there is a strong Venetian influence from the time of the Venetian occupation. Originally, the carnival developed from the ancient Greek festivals in honour of Dionysios, God of Wine, which took place at the beginning of spring in order to have a good harvest and successful breeding among the animal stock.
Thursday was Tsiknopempti, when everyone eats meat before the forty days of Lent leading up to Easter. In Corfu, we also have what is known as Petegoletsia (The Gossip) which is an old form of street theatre in the Old Town, in which women leaning out of windows overlooking the narrow alleyways exchange gossip about what is going on locally.
In the final carnival (today), King Carnival is 'he who takes on the burden of sins' and is held responsible for whatever bad has happened in the previous year. He is brought to trial and sentenced to death by burning, so that all evil is burnt with him. So, the carnival procession concludes with a bonfire in which King Carnival is burnt, his will is read and music and dancing follow.
Monday is what is called Clean Monday , which is the beginning of Lent. You can find recipes for some traditional dishes that are eaten on Clean Monday here.
Images: Terra Kerkyra
As part of our series Corfu Lists Of 10, we have here 10 museums on the island.
Built between 1962 - 1965, its initial purpose was to house the archaeological finds from the Temple of Artemis in Corfu. In 1994 it was expanded with the addition of two more exhibit halls that display the more recent finds at the ancient citadel of Corfu.
The Byzantine Museum is housed in the Panagia Antivouniotissa church. The church is dedicated to our Lady Virgin Mary Antivouniotissa (Antivouniotissa = opposite the mountains) and is one of the oldest and richest ecclesiastical monuments of the city.
Historical and Folkloric MuseumThis museum is housed in a traditional house in the village of Sinarades. The first floor is a reconstruction of a typical village house from the 19th century and the upper floor has a collection of Corfiot costumes, musical instruments, agricultural and artisan tools as well as other implements and items.
This museum is housed in the summer home of Ioannis Kapodistrias - first Greek prime minister after independence in the early 19th century - in the area of Koukouritsa in his birthplace of Corfu. It has exhibits commemorating his life and accomplishments.
Mon Repos Museum of Palaeopolis
The museum contains fascinating archaeological finds, historical documents, prints and lithographs concerning the use and history of the Mon Repos Mansion as well as a collection of watercolours and botanical samples representing the natural heritage of Corfu.
The Museum was founded in 1927, when the ambassador Gregory Manos donated his collection comprising some 10,500 works of art. It operated until about 1974 as Sino-Japanese museum. Later the museum was enriched with other collections mainly from mid-Asia and since then has operated as the Museum of Asian Art. The museum often hosts periodic exhibitions.
The Museum houses numerous surviving samples of Corfiot ceramic art, which flourished in earlier times. These samples are valuable works of popular art, distinguished by their simple form, the variety of shapes and their austere painted decoration.
Olive Oil Museum
Serbian War Museum
The Serbian Museum exhibits rare material from the First World War. The Serbian Army, (about 150,000) together with the government, found refuge and compassion in Corfu, after the collapse of the Serbian Front in 1915. The visitor can see photographs from the three years that the Serbians stayed in Corfu, together with other exhibits like, uniforms, arms and ammunition of the Serbian soldiers and officers, Serbian regimental flags, ecclesiastic canonicals and other items of the Serbian priests, surgical tools of the Serbian doctors from the island of Vido in 1916, medals of honor and other decorations of the Kingdom of Serbia and various other items.
The National Poet of Greece, Dionysios Solomos, spent the greatest part of his life (1798-1857) in Corfu, where he wrote the greatest and most important part of his work. The house where he lived, worked and died was restored by the Corfiot Studies Society after the Second World War and today functions as a Museum and Centre of Solomos Studies.
For those of you interested in Greek cooking, I would recommend the new e-book 50 Greek Vegetarian Recipes. Greek cooking is not just roast lamb and souvlaki - there are many delicious dishes that are vegetarian. Follow the link below to download the e-book for just 3 Euros.
The area of Roggia in North Corfu had been abandoned over the last 30 years until the idea of Roggia Farm eventually came to fruition. Roggia Farm has newly built houses with modern facilities and comfort inside, but which blend into the existing environment. The owners claim - rightly, I believe - that their building intervention did not dramatically change the scenery of Roggia but, on the contrary, added new aura and fresh life to the area.
It is an organic farm with a range of local trees, plants and animals with the aim of applying biodynamic farming in the future. Since 2008 visitors have been able to come and stay at the farm and have the choice of helping with the animals and land or just watching; helping with the cooking or just eating!
The farm consists of a main building plus 3 maisonettes / studios for guests. For those who wish it, daily activities include feeding and cleaning the animals and cultivating, collecting, watering and pruning the vegetables and crops. Other activities, on request, include cycling, walking, horse-riding, yoga and massage and aromatherapy.
On my recent visit to the farm, I was much impressed by the whole environment and the enthusiasm of Nikos and his mother Lina who run it and for whom it is indeed a labour of love. For more information, visit their site here.