Corfu means culture and natural landscapes and North Corfu is the part of the island that has them both in a really high level! Those who have been to Corfu or who have heard of Corfu’s history and events that take place there, can certify that Corfu, Culture and Natural Beauty are three meanings, connected to each other and fulfilling each other… After all the number of people who visit Corfu every year isn’t at all left to chance.
Corfu fascinates its visitors no matter where they come from . They fall in love with the island at the first sight . Who hasn’t been impressed by the old traditional and monumental buildings of the old Corfu Town? Or by the Old Fortress when they see it on their way to the island while on a ferry? Who hasn’t admired the natural beauty of the island while landing at the airport? With their first sight of Corfu being one of its most famous landmarks , Pontikonisi or else the Mouse Island and right in front of if the little Church of Virgin Mary. Who hasn’t admired Liston and the palko (meaning an old stage , located on the top of Spianada Square) on magazines and photographs if not live? And when talking about natural beauty and cultural events that give Corfu a special scent how could someone begin describing all these things? The musical tradition in Corfu? The hospitality? The Venetian architecture? The picturesque villages? the arches in Corfu town? Or the indescribable natural wealth? Which is one the many reasons it attracts so many visitors each year . As you understand the list is endless so today I will focus on the natural landscape and the cultural tradition and beauty of North Corfu.
Commencing a summer day , we can start let’s say from Palaiokastritsa. The best thing to do when you get there is to take a dip in the deep cold blue/green waters of the two little gulfs of Palaiokastritsa. Afterwards, visiting the picturesque, rich in flora monastery and then going on a boat ride to the magnificent caves and the secret little beaches that can only be approached by boat.
For those who love a good view from a high mountain going to the village of Lakones or Agelokastro which is one of the most important byzantine castles in Greece ! Going further up the North part of the island in a location called “Chelidoni” (Chelidoni is a swallow, the bird, in Greek), going by Chelidoni no one can resist the view it provides to the people passing by it. Others take photos of the place, others get their photo taken with that marvellous place from where all you see is an infinite view of the horizon, of the sky and the sea.. the ultimate blue view!
The sea that is viewed from Chelidoni is called Agios Georgios Pagon and deeper in the horizon you can see three little islands that belong to Corfu, Mathraki, Erikousa and Othoni. Headed now to Afionas you can see may famous beaches side by side, separated by little lines of land, each one of them having a different water temperature!
A bit higher from there (a place not many people know , and those who know it are hopeless romantics) there is a little hill , getting to which you’d have to cross many little streets and the yards of many houses. From that little hill you have a mesmerizing view of the sea! At night, you can watch the sky, filled with stars, seating on a bench with your other half , glaring at the sea and the lights of the tourist attractions and in that view you can’t help but fall in love!!
Continuing our trip on North Corfu and going towards Arillas now, you can visit the nice family-friendly beach and enjoy the sunset. In addition, you can also visit the Corfiot brewery and have a taste of the local beer. If you want to enjoy the most talked about and the most romantic place to be in that area, you must go to Loggas at the village of Peroulades, that undoubtedly consists one of the most relaxing places, not only in North Corfu but in the whole island – and maybe even on Earth – that anyone can visit.
Right underneath is the beach of Loggas which is characterised by the natural grey clay covering the landscape around it. Close to Loggas is “To akrotiri tou drasti”, hidden in a beautiful forest-like scenery. Beyond that, there are numerous little, isolated beaches and islets. Access is guaranteed only on a boat which helps maintaining the place natural and virgin. Right there, between Sidari and Peroulades, a place that scares (in a very good way) its visitors minds is the famous «Canal D’Amour», that is consisted of little rocky places of land that stretch into the sea, creating little gulfs and there are little roads and steps that can get you to these little gulfs.
Now, as we keep going we will reach the village of Roda, where you can see an ancient temple the findings of which you can see at the Archeological Museum of Corfu. Next is Acharavi, for those who love folklore history, in Acharavi you can find an organised folklore museum. Only a few kilometers away you will find a picturesque village with many churches, Palaia Perithia, with houses built from stone, with Venetian architecture that makes the village a historical monument of North Corfu. Another picturesque village is Nimfes, a village rich in flora, waters and legends! The breathtaking view of the waterfalls and an old historical monastery with steal your hearts. As an addition to these, in Nimfes you will find the factory of Corfu’s traditional fruit, Kumquat.
And then, there is Kassiopi! In my personal opinion it is one of the prettiest tourist-attracting and by-the-sea resorts of the North because in Kassiopi you can find everything you need. It is a small village for aspiring fishermen and at the same time it makes a tourist attraction of all ages. With Albania within reach. The Castle of Kassiopi and Aggelokastro are two of the places you should visit in Kassiopi.
In between Kassiopi and the village Sinies is where one of the most significant ecosystems of the island is located and it is called Erimitis and what you ‘ ll find there are isolated beaches and lakes. Leaving Kassiopi you will encounter the beach Kouloura. This graphic gulf, with luxurious yachts laying anchor there, that will attract your sight even when your are high above it. Ending our little tour I will mention the annex of the local art gallery that has some standard and periodical art shows in Korakiana.
And all these from just one upward sample of the natural beauty and the cultural and historical monuments of Southern Corfu… and in the end I haven’t even mentioned the cultural events that these special traditional villages hold for many religious and non- religious celebrations, which was in my mind when I started writing that are totally worth mentioning for each one separately! But that’s how it is sometimes… our thoughts get dragged and we lose the trail of our thoughts … after all, we only have one brain, haven’t we?
Source: Corfu Diary Blog
They say that in Corfu the chances of finding a family, a member of which is not a member in one of the corfiot philharmonic bands are from slim to none. In every family there is at least one person who either plays at least one musical instrument or sings at a local choir ! Besides the corfiot philharmonic bands it is also worth mentioning: the Symphony Orchestra of Corfu , Corfu’s Conservatories, the bands that the locals or the Ionian University of Music students have created, the teams of the Ionian University and of course the local singers that solely sing traditional cantatas.
Let us not forget that after all music keeps us company at any time of our lives. From classical music that doctors suggest to pregnant women and the “happy birthday” song that everyone has been singing ever since childhood to song that are sung about marriages and in occasions of farewells or even at funerals! This type of art is a part of our everyday life (actually right now while i’m writing, I am listening to classical songs played by corfiot philharmonic bands!) in the car on our way to work, at work, at the stores where we go shopping and on TV.
Nowadays in Corfu you will hear music everywhere, on the streets, at the squares and at the little streets in Corfu town! You can even feel the music in the accent of the locals. It should be pointed out that music gives birth to culture and raises the educational level of people and helps makes a place special and different from another and Corfu island owes a large part of its culture to the corfiot philharmonic bands.
The corfiot philharmonic bands, or just “bands” as we call them in Corfu, are a piece of my life that I love a lot because I happen to be a member of a small one and it is like a second home to me after having spent many beautiful and creative moments in its premises all these years, are the cultural ornament of Corfu ! In a small island such as Corfu no one could think there could be this many philharmonics but their number reach to 17 ! Three corfiot philharmonic bands and the most famous ones are based in Corfu Town and are the following (according to date of establishment): The Philharmonic Company of Corfu (or else called “Palaia”, which means the old one), Mantzaros and Kapodistrias. Palaia, like its name suggests, is the first philharmonic band of Corfu and the oldest one in Greece. It was established in 1840 D.C. expressing the new reborn nation of Greece (that was only less than 20 years ago released from being under the control of Turks) and its intentions were to help creating an educated musical community. Some of the most important Greek composers are somehow connected to Palaia.
The famous song “Amleto” is Palaia’s most characteristic song and it touches every single Corfiot soul and every visitor while it is played on the day we celebrate the Patron Saint of Corfu, Saint Spiridon, or on Holly Saturday. On that Saturday morning both locals and visitors follow the corfiot philharmonic bands headed to Spianada Square to accompany the relic of St. Spiridon and feel the awe and the sadness the Week of the Passions Of Jesus Christ represents and get prepared for the first Resurrection (the local custom of throwing pitchers off the windows on Easter eve) and the very special celebrations we have in Corfu for that. Easter is a very big chapter and for that reason I should leave it to that and not talk about it in detail right now.
Watch the following video by mr Spyros Margaritis and enjoy philharmonic band of Kapodistrias drumline showcase.
DRUMLINE SHOWCASE – KAPODISTRIAS PHILARMONIC BAND.
Other corfiot philharmonic bands are spread around the island and in most cases are named after the village that hosts each one of them: Gastouri (“Omonoia“) Skripero, Lefkimaion, Kontokali, Korakiania (“Spiros Samaras“), Sinaradon, Agiou Mathaios (“Lorentzos Mavilis”), Liapades, Kinopiastes, Lakones and locals on the North: Karousades, Avliotes and Thinalion. All the corfiot philharmonic bands take part in litanies, parades and the local events of the regions they belong to. Moreover, they host concerts and take part in festivals both in and out of Corfu, in that way promoting the tradition of their villages and of the island altogether and their artistic and cultural level.
A great day on the island is what is called in Greek “Kiriaki Ton Vaion”, it is a celebration of religious matters one week before Easter and it is when all the corfiot philharmonic bands gather in Corfu Town to take part in the huge litany. Each band has its own costume, in different colours and usually with a little feathery top on their hat. On the day of May 21st when the reconnection of Corfu with the rest of Greece is celebrated, there is a parade in Corfu town, according to protocol the corfiot philharmonic bands start wearing their summer costumes that are mostly of white colour and of lighter fabric than the winter ones.
It is important to say that the lessons at the corfiot philharmonic bands are free of charge as the corfiot philharmonic bands are non-profit companies that teach theory of music, solfège and any instrument that a pupil may desire. In each band there are some subsets of musicians, the percussionists, the wind bands, the horn players etc and what are called “bantines“ a set that is consisted of only children! I should also say that tons of amateur musicians grew to become professionals and turned their hobby and love for music into profession.
In addition, besides the fact that the corfiot philharmonic bands promote and represent the island inside and outside the boarders of Greece, philharmonics from the rest of Greece and other countries come to Corfu and as the birthplace of culture that it is, it gives the opportunity to musicians and non to get to know other cultures and the melodies that are played in foreign places, to raise their musical education and listen to something special and different from what they have before.
Ending, I have to point out that music and the philharmonics are a way of life for the Corfiot musicians and that is because they spend a great part of their free time and lives learning music and that there is not one celebration on the island that the philharmonics aren’t there to entertain the people. The only assumption that I can reach is that Corfu is a model of musical education and evolution for the rest of Greece because Corfiots love music, they have musical education, tradition and they most of all love these philharmonics that work without making any profit and that make a great reason many tourists and artists want to visit Corfu.
Source: Corfu Diary
One of the greatest events during the summer in Corfu Island is Varkarola Palaiokastritsas. Varkarola is an annual event that took place for the very first time back in 1996 and represents the arrival of Homer’s Odysseus at Corfu Island. At the main beach of Palaiokastritsa, usually on the first weekend of August, the festival for which people from all around Corfu but also from other places and tourists get to Palaiokastritsa to enjoy, is is taking place under the moon and literally into the sea!
The story of the play is known all around the world. Odysseus is travelling towards Ithaca when Poseidon shipwrecks his raft at Corfu’s coasts. Being saved by Nausicaa, princess of Corfu island, he manages to get back to Ithaca, after receiving King Alcinous’ help. In the chorotheatrical scene participate musicians, vocalists, dancers, cheerleaders and dancers on boats and on floating stages, along with the boatmen of Palaiokastritsa while fireworks end the festival. During the play and the narration (which is on both English and Greek) the famous song on Vaggelis Papathanasiou “The chariots of fire” is being played… After Varkarola Palaiokastritsas a beach party almost every year takes place to continue the feast till the early hours of the next day!
Well, if you would like to join the event I would suggest you to go to Palaiokastritsa pretty early because most of the times, the traffic is high and the three large parking areas get full early enough every year. The best idea is to go to the beach on the afternoon, swim in the beautiful blue sea of Palaiokastritsa and get the best spot on the beach to enjoy both the beach and the festival, just when the sun falls.
On the area you will find cafeterias and restaurant and of course the organizers of the feast set up a kiosk selling souvlaki, beers, wine, beverages and other stuff
For more info about Varkarola of Palaiokastritsa, videos and photos, you may visit the official website www.varkarola.com
Source: Corfu Diary Blog