EOT licence 0829K920004001
recommended by:The Sunday Times (50 Spectacular villas) Jan 2013
Conde Naste Traveller April 2013
The Independent (6 of the best) May 2013
The jewel of the house is its balcony, stretching the length of the house. All those who see the moon rising above the mountains of Epirus, shining over the sea behind the bell tower never forget it.
The house itself is furnished with family pieces, a mixture of Venetian and Greek, with English and Indian additions, bought during their stays there.
The hub of the house is predictably the vast kitchen, where the old bread oven is still used- although now only for storage.
The main 'saloni' has four rooms leading off it- sitting room, formal dining room, library and shower room. From here French windows lead out to the balcony and another door leads onto the stairs to the first floor. There are tables, chairs and couches on the balcony, so that you can live out there should you choose to do so.
Each bedroom has its own individual character, be it Venetian, Greek or British.
The house was featured in the Sunday Times (Jan 2013) as one of Europe's 50 sensational villas.
In the orange grove is a private swimming pool 12m X 5m.
surrounded by a paved area for sunbathing and relaxing.
At the bottom of the road a tunnel leads under the coast road leading to a well kept shingle beach, with an excellent bar serving light meals as well as drinks. There is plenty of shade here, and the owner looks after his clients very well.
A fifteen minute walk brings you into Benitses, an attractive fishing village with excellent bars and tavernas, you can try a different one every night of your stay and still not visit them all. Fresh fish is sold daily on stalls by the sea. The houses are painted dazzling white every Spring and cluster round the two village churches, one of which has its name day on 17th July- a good excuse for a party!. It is one of the island's oldest villages, and contains the remains of Roman baths, and an interesting legacy of the British rule here in the 19th century- the waterworks- which are fascinating to explore.
Along the coast within walking distance are many small coves that you will have to yourself except on the very busiest days of the year. A short car journey brings you to a nearby sandy beach, and many of the bays offer watersports- paragliding, waterskiing, and so on.
Another nearby village is Gastouri, where the Achilleon Palace is situated. It was built by Elizabeth of Austrta, and after she died it was bought by Kaiser Wilhelm 2nd, who used it until his defeat in the First World War. It was a casino at one time, but is now restored and open for visitors to wander through the reception rooms, climb the grand staircase, and enjoy the well tended garden, with its famous statue of the dying Achilles. Stroll through the pretty village and go to the lower part where the well which Elizabeth gave to the village is situated. Processions visit it during the year, especially on Epiphany, accompanied by the local band
Walkers can follow the well marked tracks to the villages of Agii Deka (Ten Saints) and Stavros, and some go further, to Agios Gordios, on the other side of the island. The Corfu Trail, which goes from north to south, passes quite close to Benitses, making it a popular stop.
Buses go regularly into Corfu Town, 30 minutes away, a fascinating old town very reminiscent of Venice, without the canals. It is especially fun to explore in the cool of the evening when the town's inhabitants congregate in the main square to enjoy a drink, while the swifts fly overhead. The council often puts on performances of singing, dancing, and the Corfiot speciality- the brass band- sometimes in the bandstand on the main square, and also in the town hall square where you can sit at a cafe sipping a drink while you listen. The town offers the full range of culinary treats, from simple street food to luxury restaurants, truly something for everyone.
Buses nearly all go in and out of Corfu Town, there are few cross island routes, and a few days car hire does make exploring a lot easier, but be sure to book it, or asj us to do so on your behalf, in plenty of time especially in high season. From Benitses you can get buses going south to Agios Georgios, Messonghi, Lefkimi, Cavos etc. but they are not very frequent and a trip does need some careful planning.
The north of the island is mountainous and hilly, the middle more 'rolling- with a large agricultural valley in its midst, and the south is flatter. Sandy beaches are mainly on the north (Agios Spyridon, Acharavi, Roda, Sidari) and west coast (Glyfada, Agios Gordios, and from Agios Georgios south to past Vitalades is one long stretch of golden sand), It is possible to hire small boats to explore the Corfu channel itself (north east coast) and the myriad small coves dotted along its length, and tiny villages such as Kouloura, Agni and Kaminaki..
If you leave the coast within a few kilometres you will find unspoilt villages where life has not changed much in the last hundred years, stunning views around every bend in the road, and aleways a friendly local 'cafeneion' or bar, often selling home made dishes.
On the west coast the monastery of Paleocastritsa is a jewel, but one to be visited in the late afternoon when the tour coaches have gone home, before that just look down on it from the village of Lakones perched on the cliff overlooking it, whilst enjoying a cold drink,
There are a number of old castles in Corfu- two in Corfu Town itself, one at Gardiki, in the south, and most spectacular of all- Angelokastro, just north of Paleocastritsa. It is a climb, but the view well repays it.
Corfu has an excellent golf course, about 25 minutes away by car, in the Ropa Valley, whilst younger visitors all enjoy the water park, Aqualand.
The island is famous for its wildlife and flowers- many varieties of wild orchids can be seen in Spring, and in Autumn the wild cyclamen carpet the valleys. Many naturalists have followed in the footsteps of Gerald Durrell and spent happy hours watching the insects and animals up in the hills. Artists too enjoy painting and sketching in one of the old villages, or on a vantage point overlooking the island spread below them.
Opposite on the mainland you can see the lights of the new motorway, intended eventually to run from Istanbul to the mainland port of Igoumenitsa opposite. This road has opened up the interior of Greece, and it is now possible to visit the incredible monasteries of the Meteora, high on roacks overlooking the plain of Thessaly, and come back the same day, although ideally a one night stay would be more restful. The motorway also passes Metsovon, a small but fascinating town which is a ski resort in winter. Its Averoff-Tossitsa museum is a gem,, and you can also visit the state of the art winery on the town's outskirts.
Another day on the main land can take you to the magical world of Zagoria- 46 villages where time seems to have stopped still, linked by the most beautiful bridges, all built by the villager over a hundred years ago. The whole area is a nation al park, and there are bears there, although you would be very lucky to see them. Walkers and white water rafting are both popular here, and also riding. Europe's second deepest gorge is her, the Vikos, and it is possible to walk its length, the track shaded by the tall trees.
If you drive south from Igoumenitsa you can visit Necromandeion, the Oracle of the Dead, situated above the Acheron River (the Styx of mythology), and Nicopolis, or Victory City, built by Augustus Caesar to celebrate his victory over Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium, in the gulf of Prevesa nearby. Before the battle they reputedly visited Corfu and watched a play in the ancient theatre at Kassiopi.
I live on the island so am at hand to help in any way, and I really enjoy pointing people in the right direction so that they will enjoy their stay on this beautiful island to the fullest. Having been here almost continually since 1976 I think I know most of the places to recommend to the new visitor, and it is very rewarding to hear the comments!