Tailor made holidays and honeymoons to Colourful Corfu – home of The Durrells
Contact us on 01728 748209 or send an enquiry for any holiday to Corfu or Greece
Renowned naturalist and founder of the Durrell Wildlife Park (Jersey Zoo) Gerald Durrell grew up from the age of 10 on the Greek island of Corfu when his family, lead by mother Louisa left the UK for a better life in the sun. The ITV programme The Durrells (series one shown on UK TV in Spring 2016 and series two is now showing Spring 2017) relays the true story of the family as they fall in love with the unspoiled island of Corfu with its olive and fruit groves, azure seas and plentiful wildlife (much of which was collected by Gerry in his bedroom!).
If you are a keen walker contact us to take ‘The Corfu Trail’
Literary holiday makers who have read the book ‘My Family and Other Animals’ will enjoy visiting the old villas of the island which still to this day offer a flavour of the ‘old Greece’. The Durrell’s villas included Strawberry-pink, Snow-White and Daffodil villas.
Corfu is the greenest and most northerly of the Ionian Islands and has 200 km of coastline full of quaint fishing villages and coves. Groves of tall, silvery-green olive and cypress trees cover the slopes of the central hills tumbling down to the steep west coast, with its sweeping sandy beaches and magnificent sunsets. The small resort of Aghios Gordis here appeals to all generations and there is no coastal road running behind the superb beach here. Still among olive trees the south of the island levels out and the tiny hideaway of Maltas combines an untouched countryside, rich in traditional ways, with one of the best sandy beaches on the island. To the north of Corfu is a different landscape – a rocky, twisting coastline of cliffs and gorges curl around the great mountain called Pantokrator, ‘Lord of Creation’. The north east, with its white pebble coves, stunning views and countless walks, is particularly magical.
The island of Corfu is full of colourful myths, legends and history. Locally known as Kerkyra one legend says that this was the daughter of a river god Asopus. Poseidon first abducted and then seduced her on the island where she gave birth to a son, Phaeax, the ancestor of the Phaecians who lived on Corfu in antiquity. Jason (of the Argonauts) was one of the first visitors. Having stolen the Golden Fleece as well as the beautiful Medea he sought refuge on the island. Not only did he manage to hang onto his treasure but he married her in a cave near the palace at Alcinous.
The island has continued to inspire writers and poets, including Shakespeare who probably used the island as the model for the magical kingdom in The Tempest. Much later, prior to World War Two the eccentric but talented Durrell family came to live on the island. Gerald memorably described the island, inhabitants and animals in his evocative book, ‘My Family and Other Animals’.
As The Durrells found, the Corfiots are the most friendly and generous people, especially the country folk. They work hard on their land and many still follow traditional lives. Walkers, botanists and ornithologists will find an inexhaustible source of natural history interest in Corfu. The Corfu trail, which winds from north to south through some of the island’s most beautiful and enduring landscapes, can be tackled in small parts and runs close to some lovely small resorts. To quote from ‘Landscapes of Corfu’, “Walking on Corfu is sheer bliss. You will be spoilt by a kaleidoscope of landscapes, and you needn’t be an intrepid hiker to find these beauty spots. The walks lead to some of the most beautiful beaches you will ever see.”
With a perfect, fertile climate, Corfu has been treasured and fought over by many warring nations, including the Venetians, Saracens, French and British, finally achieving union with an independent Greece in 1864. The heritage left by all these uninvited guests, together with the fascinating archeological remains of earlier civilisations means that the island today is a unique blend of ancient myth, classical architecture and a vibrant culture as well as being the ‘emerald isle’ of the Ionian. Corfu Town, with its warren of narrow streets, its graceful Venetian facades and its wonderful main square, has been renovated without losing any of its character. Many of the narrow alleyways have been pedestrianised and venerable buildings sensitively restored.
Of course there are still busy resorts, but in recent years the waterfronts are far more likely to be busy with families enjoying themselves than late night revellers! A network of roads lead out from the capital across the island, whilst the quiet byways and lanes of the rural interior have been re-surfaced but are still relatively traffic free, the hamlets and villages they connect remain unspoilt.
Stay in a little piece of history at The White House, one of the Durrell’s original homes in Corfu!
Gerald Durrell, the famous naturalist, zoo keeper, television presenter and conservationist, was born in India in 1925 and, on the death of his father a few years later, the family moved back to the UK. However, the British weather soon drove his mother and three older siblings to seek refuge in Corfu in 1935, where they lived until 1939. His book, My Family and Other Animals, recounting his experiences on this magical island and his encounters with the local fauna, was written in 1956. Very few in their early teens in the 1960s failed to read the book, which described an idyllic existence on Corfu. For many, the book captures the carefree approach to life, the informality and the friendship that epitomise life on the Greek Islands. The north-west of Corfu is one of the most beautiful coastlines in Greece, and the White House, sitting on the water’s edge in the fishing village of Kalami, has become part of the island’s heritage. Originally, the house was a single storey property owned by Anastasios Atheneos, the grandfather of the current owner, Tassos. The second floor was added for Gerald’s elder brother Lawrence, the famous writer, who also lived on the island with his wife during the same period. The ground floor is still the Atheneos family home, while the basement and traditional old fisherman’s hut are now the White House Restaurant. But the rooms on the upper (first) floor (a four- bedroomed apartment where Lawrence Durrell and his wife lived and wrote) – are available for holiday stays. The house and apartment are of course old in style and full of character, with antiques and Durrell memorabilia everywhere in the living room, from which French windows open onto a balcony overhanging the sea; the sound of the sea beneath will lull you to sleep. The location is stunning and the exterior of the the White House has lost none of its original character; it literally sits on the water’s edge with amazing views. A few steps from the upper floor lead down to a private patio with a myriad of Mediterranean potted plants. A few more steps down and there is a common patio overlooking the villa’s private jetty and the beautiful bay of Kalami. This is an iconic property and it delivers both the epitome of the traditional Greek lifestyle and a taste of the home and surroundings that so inspired Gerald Durrell’s ‘My Family and Other Animals’.
We work with independent AITO operators and selected villa suppliers to offer you a wide range of properties have been chosen to represent the real Corfu, an island of clean beaches, green hills and valleys, excellent museums, fine tavernas and restaurants. Try and get a table with a view, which is typically Corfiot. You should be able to make out the lattice of traditional fish traps and fishermen tending their nets as they and their ancestors have done for a thousand years or more. This is the magic of Corfu, ancient and modern…..
Here are just a few of our suggested favourite places to stay:
Elsa’s Limani House in Agios Stefanos. Perfectly positioned apartments on the waters edge in the heart of an idyllic fishing village.
Villa Agni-Stefania near Agni. An elegant hillside 3 bedroom villa with private swimming pool, hidden amongst the cypress trees with breathtaking views
Villa Georgina near Nissaki. A superbly located 2 bedroom villa with a private swimming pool and spectacular sea views towards Corfu Town
The Stone Cottage is a small 2 bedroom stone cottage with a private swimming pool surrounded by mature gardens close to the unspoilt harbour and hamlet of Nissaki on Corfu’s northeast coast.
St George’s Bay Country Club is a low key lovely hotel in the north east of Corfu with a pool and spa and lush gardens.
Art Hotel Debono is in Gouvia, close to the marina and the beach at Dassia, and has 32 acres of lush gardens filled with olive and palm trees.
Most flights to Corfu operate on a Monday from various airports.