Timeless hill villages of Corfu
Villages are never far from hectic holiday resorts.
For most holiday visitors to Corfu it is the great beaches that prove the biggest attraction, from the busy tourist strips in the east and north to the more secluded bays and windswept sands of the west.
But there is much more to Corfu and those that venture inland will quickly find themselves in traditional hillside villages that appear to have lost track of time.
Commercial interests have swept aside much of traditional Greek character in the busy and brash holiday resort of the coast.
Although there has been much improvement in recent years it has to be said that many of the most beautiful areas of Corfu turned belly up to downmarket tourism when the island of Corfu was first 'discovered' by package holiday companies in the 1970s and 1980s.
But away from the crowded coast lies another Corfu, a place of remote beauty that still have echoes of Corfu island's peaceful past before the holiday companies moved in.
Fortunately, Corfu being such a long and thin island, the peaceful hillside villages are never far away from the hectic beach holiday resorts with their crowded beaches and neon lit nightclubs.
One of the best is the delightful village of Lefkimi in the south of the island. Although it does have a beach the village has remained untargeted by holiday tour companies and it still basks in the charm of years gone by with a small river that snakes into the heavily wooded surrounding plain.
Also in the south of Corfu are the picturesque villages of Agirades and Agios Matheos which have quite large populations but retain their Greek charm while local sights include the ruined fortress at Gardiki and the monastery of Christou Pandokratora.
Still in the south, holiday visitors to the hugely popular beach resort of Paleokasistras can follow the winding road up into the hills to the cobbled streets and Venetian houses of the beautiful hill village of Lakones where there are astonishing views over the Ionian sea and inland too.
A tour up into the hill of central Corfu will reveal the stone-built houses of Doukades arranged in a wide arc around the valley with a traditional village square, some beautiful neo-classical mansions enclosed in carved stone walls while a winding hillside track will take you to the monastery of Agios Simeon.
The village of Nymphes is fed by waterfalls that make the region especially lush and green in even the driest summer. Legend has it that nymphs once bathed in the many pools. Nymphes is home to an agriculture co-operative that makes liqueurs and sweets while only a short walk away is the monastery at Askitario.
More impressive old mansion houses can be found at the traditional hill village of Kynopiastes which is located In the Messi area, where you can also visit the 17th century monastery and its marble church.
Even north Corfu, heavily developed for tourism, has still some hidden gems tucked away in the hillsides. Ano Korakiana is just 19 kilometres from Corfu Town but seems almost medieval in character. The village is noted for its 37 churches.
Near to Ano Korakiana is Skripero, a large village with a rich history and musical and folk traditions.The traditional village offers fantastic views over a landscape of olive and citrus groves.
A village with a wonderful location is Strinilas which sits on the highest mountain of Corfu and is famous for the local wine Moschato which is served in several village cafes and tavernas.