Hidden Villages Of Corfu, Greece
There’s something about venturing off in a
destination where few tourists tread. You get a feel for the area,
its people, and their way of life. My jeep tour of the hidden
villages of Corfu, Greece, offered just that.
located in the western part of Greece along the Ionian Sea near the
Albanian border. Compared to continental Greece, this enchanting
island, often called “green island” for its lush vegetation, is
known for the olive and lemon groves that line its countryside.
Added to that, the dramatic mountains and the turquoise sea that
surround it only enhance its beauty.
Our jeep tour to the
hidden villages of Corfu took us down narrow country lanes, up
winding mountain roads, and through several beautiful traditional
villages. What we saw were hillsides filled with olive trees and the
occasional cluster of villas (many dilapidated) above and around the
We followed the twisting road up the side of Pantokrator
Mountain, Corfu’s highest, to where the tiny village of Sokraki is
nestled. On the way up, we saw a magnificent view of the islands
below and Albania off in the distance. Were it not for four-wheel
drive trucks, this tiny village might never see foreign visitors.
Only a few decades ago, the main form of transport between mountain
communities was walking on footpaths. Many of these small
mountaintop villages are secluded because, during Byzantine times,
they were built as escapes from the pirate raids and malarial
mosquitoes that often invaded the coast.
Our jeep tour arrived en masse and was watched
closely by a few curious locals sipping coffee in a tiny café.
Numerous women were still wearing the bolia, a traditional
white headscarf. They seemed pleased to see us, and gave us big,
gap-toothed smiles. We wandered through the narrow alleys around the
crumbling stone houses into a picturesque village square with
hanging flowers. While there, we dined in a tiny taverna (a
Greek restaurant/bar) to sample meze (Greek peasant’s lunch
of olives, hummus, baba ghanouj, and other appetizers), local wine,
and of course the local favorite uzo.
It was from
Sokraki that we went off-road and took a dirt track to the
2,000-foot summit of Troumbeta. From the summit, we could see the
sea, a bright blue band in the distance. The dirt road emerged onto
a ridge with spectacular views back to the coast. There we saw
limestone plateaus carpeted with bright yellow broom grasses.
Along our winding descent, we encountered numerous donkeys
that are still used for transport among villages. At the bottom of
the mountain, we reached the village of Skripero, which is known for
its fantastic bird’s-eye views of Corfu’s mountainous
If you prefer to stay on the beaten path, the biggest
attraction is Corfu’s capital, Corfu Town. The town of Corfu offers
unique surroundings that have been left over from other
civilizations. Built on a cape that projects into the sea, the town
is separated into a northern and a southern section. In the northern
part, there is the Old Fortress with massive ramparts that are cut
off from the town by a moat. For centuries residents lived within
this citadel, which was founded by the Byzantines. Venetians, who
occupied the island for 400 years, greatly expanded and developed
the town and its architecture. You will find old high-sided Venetian
buildings with elaborate iron balconies, and narrow side streets and
alleys with marble pavements.
Other attractions include the
300-year old Church of Saint Spiridon, which holds a priceless
collection of religious icons. For those wishing a very leisurely
vacation, Corfu’s numerous beaches are first-rate.
all, Corfu seems to have a split personality as far as tourism is
concerned. On one hand, the trendy beach resorts and discos have
long been the favorites of many young Europeans seeking lively
nightlife. On the other hand, there are the private, secluded villas
and quaint, isolated beaches that attract travelers who prefer a
more subdued atmosphere. Nonetheless, many tourists seem largely
unaware of the spectacular beauty of the island’s interior that
offers a glimpse into a way of life seemingly untouched by
Other Corfu Resources:
Online guide with happenings, destinations, commerce and public
services, and general information about the island.
Corfu Information: Offers
history, places to visit, photos, business directory, and
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