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Kerkyra (Corfu) Town

Kérkyra, the capital of Corfu, is one of the most interesting towns in Greece due to the strong influence of the Venetians who for four-plus centuries controlled the island. So it strongly resembles an Italian city – a more savoury version of Naples comes to mind for some visitors. 

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On the west side of the Spianáda (Esplanade plaza), Napoleonic-French style is most evident in the Listón, an elegant arcaded parade modelled on the Parisian Rue de Rivoli. Under the arches shelter some of the most popular (and expensive) cafés on the island; the Olympia (aka Tou Zizimou) is considered the most venerable and stylish. Their tables overlook the Spianáda’s lawns, which used to host weekend cricket matches (a British introduction). Alas, parking demands have shrunk the pitch here and most matches are now held at a newish stadium out at Gouviá, but you can still sit here and sip a ginger beer (another British contribution). It was the French who landscaped the Spianáda, thus creating one of the most attractive town squares in all of Greece; for the Venetians it was merely a patch of waste ground, the site of old houses demolished to permit a free field of fire from the Old Fort, which lies east of the Spianáda, beyond the Contrafossa channel dug by the Venetians and now home to a fishing fleet.

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