The Weather said ‘rain showers’ so what a good day to venture into Corfu Town. And what a gem it is. In fact with only one heavy shower it was ideal conditions to visit a place that oozes history. The origins of the town can be traced back to the 8th century and since them the influence of Venice is heavily felt in trade, fortification, architecture and food.
The Old Town is sandwiched between the Old Venetian Fort facing eastwards, and around the headland guarding the port where the cruise ships now dock, is the gargantuan new fortress which, despite its name, originates in 1576.
My tour of this lovely old town starts down in the old port, where, after following a line of traffic for miles with no likelihood of finding a parking space, I accidentally enter a crowded car park through the exit barrier, jump the queue of rotating drivers and squeeze into the only free space amid some very angry faces. ‘I’m British’ I mouth; a very pertinent fact as the Duke of Edinburgh was born here, and he is Our royalty). The new fortress dominates the skyline above and overpowers all that lies below it.
Then it is a dive into the narrow streets of the old town. Churches, domes and Venetian facades with flaking plaster and rusty balconies mingle with squares & fountains & parks & cloistered walkways. The colour washes on the buildings add an extra dimension as the sun and clouds play catch up across their surface and facades. The colours of clay cover the slopes & angles of the roofs and, along with pitted columns and faded statues, give the town a soft, familiar hue like a pair of faded slippers.
.Surprises are found around every corner. The wicket of the Corfu cricket club, who, I found out from the car park attendant, play in September. The artificial wicket requires little preparation and offers little respite for bowlers. Boy, what a glorious place to play, surrounded by such Venetian glory.
The tourist buses unload their cargoes outside the old fortress. This is a hugely impressive structure, protecting the town from land and sea alike and separated from the main island by Lover’s Canal. Why it is called that I have no idea.
Corfu Town has a charm and a warmth and a buzz about it that can be enjoyed, even on a short visit. I wish more of the island retained as much character and atmosphere as is captured here amongst the muted colours of the old town.