The first thing to notice approaching the Corfu port is that the water is as clean and clear as anywhere on the continent, it is the second largest Ionian island and situated in the sea of the same name. The island is steeped in history, with a rich history(often tragic) right up to modern day, as a result Corfu city’s old town has been named as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Ships will dock in the new port of Corfu (Liman.) Usually there will be a shuttle into the main terminal which is then quickly followed by another shuttle into the old section of Corfu itself. Alternatively, it is a beautiful 20 to 30 minute walk into the old section – simply leave the terminal to the left and stroll right along the ocean the whole way. The coast line will carry you up a hill and underneath an archway, the Old Fortress of Corfu lies to the left, the old city itself to the right. You are on the pedestrian streets where the restaurants, shops and souvenir shops are. The majority of all commerce passes through this cultural town, olive oil, citrus fruits, figs and textiles are all principal products.
The Ionian islands were settled on as early as 8th century bc by the Corinthians. Corfu itself became a base for Venetian merchant ships through the fourteenth to eighteenth centuries. In1864 Corfu had gained independence from the French, who had invaded (under Napoleon) in 1797, and in 1862 the islands were joined with the new state of Greece . In the Second World War Mussolini harboured intentions of fulfilling ’Italia Irredenta’ and rejoining Corfu to the Italian kingdom, however many joined the fast-growing resistance movement and Corfu was fiercely defended. The city suffered devastating bombing from the Luftwaffe in 1943 and many Jews from the island were sent to Auschwitz when the island fell under Nazi command. The British liberated Corfu on the 14th of October 1944.
A visit to Corfu town’s old section is stunning and simply unmissable. A shore excursion will undoubtedly be offered to visit Achillio palace in the village of Gastouri, the luxurious villa was built for the empress of Austria (Princess Sissy) in 1892.
Unique to Corfu is the many gold jewellery shops containing products of local kumquat. Many collectable and unique bottles containing honey and perfumes, pashmina’s, natural sponges, and of course…. Ouzo!!