Old Perithia

Corfu's Oldest Village – Guide and Where to Stay

Not a Villa, but a Village… to yourselves | Corfu | Greece

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Corfu has long been known for its stunning beaches and azure blue seas, set against a lavish green backdrop. But, prior to tourism shifting the landscape in the 70’s and 80’s, it was the old villages where the true spirit of Corfu, and its history, could be best experienced and enjoyed.

Nowadays many magnificent villas can be found dotted along the coastline with their terraces overlooking the Ionian Sea. There’s the option of a swimming pool, or a trip to the beach, and most villas are within 5, 10 or 15 minutes walk before you can dip your toes in the sea.

As the beachfront villas multiplied, many villages became more and more deserted or had retained their charm but became more of a mix of old and new. However, many of these villages are still thriving communities where the locals live and work and are open 365 days a year (not just through the summer months), and by nature of the size of the island, most are within easy access to the sea albeit now by car, rather than cart, foot or mule.

So for those of you wishing to get a feel of the, nature, history and tradition of Corfu, as the likes of the Durrell’s had experienced and written about just ahead of the increase in tourism, it may be worth considering a stay in one of Corfu’s old villages.

In the attractive northeast corner of the island, close to coastal villages such as Agni, Agios Stefanos and Kassiopi there is a mountain village that lies 7km from the coastal road and nestles beneath the island’s highest mountain, Mt. Pantokrator, Ano Peritheia (Old Perithia) is Corfu’s oldest village, a Heritage Protected Site in a Designated Area of Natural Beauty and one, if not the, finest examples of the Venetian architectural influence on villages outside of Corfu town.

The village was once one of the wealthiest on the island, with 130 houses and surrounded by 8 churches, not forgetting Mt. Pantokrator (The Almighty) some 500m higher up. A popular place for walkers, and a key part of the yearly ‘Durrell Week’ that takes place in May, Old Perithia was once a hideaway from pirate attacks, where the village could see, but not be seen from, the sea below. The village thrived as a wine producer, the land being so fertile that many fruit trees grew, and continue to grow there to this day, and the mountains were covered with thousands of sheep.

It is a place, held so dearly in the hearts of locals and visitors alike, that it manages to sustain five tavernas and most recently a four star boutique b&b, three old renovated ‘Merchant’s Houses’ each lovingly restored, by hand, to recreate a faithful reincarnation of how they had been circa 1650 when they, and the village, were in its heyday.

As the only accommodation in the village, albeit that about 25% of the village has been, or is in the process of being restored, here is the one place on the island where you get, not a villa, but an entire village to yourself.

So, if you like to spend your days by the beach with the crowds, but your nights to yourself with only the hum of nature, and the good spirited atmosphere of people dining at the local tavernas to keep you company. Then this may be a rather unique alternative, and around midnight when silence descends upon the Ionian mountains, it will leaving you feeling you have had an ear to the age old heartbeat of this magnificent island.

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Copyright editorial and photos | Merchant’s House Publishing 2013

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Written by oldperithia

April 23, 2013 at 12:31 pm

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