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About Corfu island (Kerkyra) ...geography, history, culture, etc !!

Corfu never fails to captivate. It has long been celebrated as the 'Garden Isle' of Greece and the rich tapestry of its swooping hills and deep valleys, clothed in acres of silver-leafed olive trees, their canopies pierced by tall stately cypresses, sets the tone, a perfect foil to the deep blue of the Ionian Sea and to the island's golden beaches.

The variety and quality of those beaches makes them irresistible and Corfu's many resorts are, understandably, the main attraction and main base for visitors, often from dawn to dusk. Beach life, night life, good food and wine in a smart restaurant or village tavern, fashionable shops and craft galleries - they all make up the high profile side of Holiday Corfu. But you should plan adventures too, by heading off into the hid-den corners and magical byways of central Corfu, to the woods and mountains of the northeast and the more remote parts of the south and west coasts, to the timeless charm of mountain villages and to tiny bone-white churches perched on the edge of limestone cliffs.

Corfu is an all-year-round delight, its seasons are defined by the fragrance of orange blossom in winter, the vivid colors of wild flowers in spring and autumn, the hissing of cicadas in the summer's heat, the cool green shade of deep woodland and the musky perfume of pine trees. Unforgettable are early mornings on those summer beaches, when the freshness of the air mingles with the scent of the sea. Unforgettable too are those rosy summer evenings after a long languorous day of sun and sea.

Corfu is a fabled isle in every way, a modern holiday paradise, yet with an enduring heritage gleaned from its colorful and often turbulent past. Imprinted upon the island's landscape and life are the legacies of classical Greece, Byzantium, Rome and Venice, and those of later French and British influences, that made Corfu a crossroads of east and west without eroding its essential Greekness. You feel this extraordinary undertow of history most potently in the Campiello district, the oldest part of Corfu Town, amid a tangle of narrow alleyways hemmed in by the tall color-washed façades of Venetian houses, whose crumbling walls, shapely moldings and elegant balconies glow in the evening sun.

Yet, these medieval streets, full of light and shade, give way seamlessly to the equally fascinating world of bustling shops, blaring traffic and voluble crowds in modern San Rocco Square. It is this happy mix of old and new Greece that underlines Corfu's enduring appeal. If you bring to Corfu a sense of curiosity and discovery, along with reliable expectations of a relaxing, sun-blessed holiday, then this loveliest of Greek islands will capture as well as captivate and will draw you back again and again.

The modern name of Corfu is said to derive from the Greek word koryphai, meaning 'summit' or 'twin peaks', a reference to the hills of the Old Fortress of Corfu Town. The older name for the island, Corcyra, or Kerkyra in modern Greek, is said to have been adopted in honor of the mythological nymph, Kerkira, who was abducted by Poseidon and brought to the island. Another suggestion is that Norman invaders of the island named their anchorages Corfi, the Greek version of the Latin word for bays, golfo.

Corfu has been claimed as being the idyllic Scheria — 'like a shield laid on the misty sea', wrote Homer - the island of the Phaeacians, where the shipwrecked Odysseus was discovered by Nausicaa, daughter of King Alcinous. Several places on Corfu's coastline lay claim to be the spot where Odysseus was washed ashore, but the lovely bay at Ermones on the west coast is the favored site.

Fallen olives were once painstakingly collected by hand. Now, nets are spread beneath the trees to make harvesting less labor intensive, but the work is still extremely hard. The Corfu olive, introduced by the Venetians, is used mainly to produce oil, rather than for eating as a fruit. Although some locals eat raw olives like grapes, visitors are advised not to; the experience is bitter.

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