Church Off Corfu
Corfu (Kerkira) is the largest and most northerly of the Ionian islands,
off the western coast of Greece and lying close to Albania. It is 58km (36 miles) long and
27km (17 miles) at its widest. The north is mountainous, the centre more hilly and the south
low-lying. Long stretches of the coast have sand or pebble beaches.
Corfu is famous (among other things) for its portrayal in Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals.
Durrell describes his first sight of the island, coming in by ferry:
"... before us lay the island, the mountains as though sleeping beneath a
crumpled blanket of brown, the folds stained with the green of olive groves. Along the shore curved
beaches as white as tusks among tottering cities of brilliant gold, red, and white rocks.
We rounded the northern cape, a smooth shoulder of rust-red cliff carved into a series of
giant caves. The dark waves lifted our wake and carried it gently towards them, and then at their
very mouths, it crumpled and hissed thirstily among the rocks. Rounding the cape, we left
the mountains, and the island sloped gently down, blurred with the silver and green irridescence
of olives, with here and there an admonishing finger of black cypress against the sky. The
shallow sea in the bays was butterfly blue ..."
Corfu has a land area of 593 sq. km. (229 sq. miles) and a population of
120,000 - making it one of Greece's most densely populated communities. The annual visitor influx
of one million makes Corfu sound as if it is appallingly crowded. But remember humanity's
'herd mentality': a third of the population live in Corfu town; Greek and Italian tourists
are concentrated in July and August - and most go to the major resorts. Outside the busy season
and a small number of over-crowded resorts, Corfu still retains its old attractions. There are 217 kms (135 miles) of marvellous coastline and
a largely unvisited interior to explore.
The warm, wet climate is ideal for agriculture. 65% of the surface area is farmed with
olive oil - some of Greece's best - being the main product.
According to the Globetrotter Travel Guide to Corfu, the island's popularity is due to:
- Some of the best beaches in Greece
- The warm climate (for most of the year) and regular rainfall makes it an
unusually green Mediterranean island.
- Outstanding scenery, the north being dominated by Mount Pantokrator
- Friendly people with traditional Greek warmth towards strangers
- Inland villages where life goes on as it must have done for hundreds of years
- Corfu town - one of the most attractive island capitals in Greece
Frommer's Greek Islands also favours Corfu town:
"With its Esplanade framed by a 19th century palace and the arcaded Liston, its
old town a Venice-like warren of structures, its massive Venetian fortresses, and all this
enclosing a lively population and constant visitors,here is urban Greece at its most appealing"