Sunday, 31 May 2009

Corfu and Venice: a cultural journey into the past

The small island of Corfu has always been considered a gem in Ionian Sea. The abundant green and its beautiful beaches used to attract people from all over the world, let alone its neighboring countries. So, Italian people could not underestimate Corfu’s beauty and strategic position, and claimed the island for the first time in the 12th century. The first Venetian occupation took place in 1205, and it was during that time that a lot of significant changes occurred on the island.

The Venetian culture

The Venetians cared for the olive oil production, so during their occupation Corfu olive groves started to expand. Nowadays the whole island is still covered with olive trees. The Venetian culture affected greatly the lifestyle of the Corfiots who were at that time privileged to live in a higher level cultural background, in contrast with the other Greeks on the mainland who were under the Ottoman occupation. The establishment of the Ionian Academy is an example of the cultural influence from the west. The Academy, which was destroyed in the years to come, has been fully rebuilt and houses now a part of the Ionian University.

The Old Fortress

The Old Fortress is an excellent example of the fortification of the island that dates back to the Venetian times. This fortress has got a 60- meter bridge that links the castle to the square. Contra Fossa canal flows underneath and is currently used as a harbour for boats. At the entrance of the fortress there is the statue of Schulenburg who was a defender against the Turks. The fortress was first fortified by the Byzantines but the Venetians built complex tunnels and galleries to make it stronger. Inside the castle the visitor can see a prison building, the English Officers’ Quarters, the Barracks, the English Hospital and the chapel of Ayios Georgios, which is in Dorian style and was built by the English in 1840. From the top of the old fortress the traveler can see a panoramic view of Corfu town. The most picturesque part is that of the old town with the red tiled roofs and the traditional buildings.

The New Fortress

The Venetians also built the New Fortress which is on the North West side of Corfu town overlooking the old harbour. The two big gates of the New Fortress are still intact! On one gate visitors can see a winged lion. This is the Venetian emblem of Saint Marco. This fortress was completed in the 15th century.

The Esplanade

Another Venetian aspect that is still prevalent in Corfu town is the Esplanade (Spianada for the Corfiots) that is the heart of Corfu town. Spianada is next to the lower square of Corfu, and this area is the center for all local festivities and major social events. The top part of Spianada is at Liston place, which is called the small Paris, since it was built by the French during the French occupation of the island and its architecture is similar to the one found in Paris. The unique lamps at Liston were made by the Venetians and are an excellent sample of the art of that period.

More cultural influence

It is obvious that the Venetians influenced a lot the local architecture as well as all the other aspects of local life. Education was promoted and many institutions were set up, such as the music schools which are still running all over the island. Corfu has got 12 bands today! Celebrations and cultural events still include Italian aspects and the local language has been greatly affected too. The older generations still speak Italian and many modern residents still use some words that are of Italian origin. For example, the word ‘alibreto’ is used to describe the half closed window shutters. Time changes though, and I wonder if the new Corfiot generations will maintain that part of their tradition in the years to come!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Meet Vasilis Sgouros

Interview with Vasilis Sgouros, the owner of PhysioPraxis center in Corfu

Vasilis Sgouros has been working in this field for over 30 years.

Q: Welcome to our page Mr.Sgouros. We are delighted to have you here today. Fist of all, we would like to know about PhysioPraxis. What exactly is this center?

A: This is a center of Physiotherapy and Recovery

Q: What does this center include? What kinds of programs are available and who do they cater to?

A: The center includes the following programs:

Athletic Recovery
Exercise and Diet
Exercise and right posture for children and adults
Exercise special for facing chronic problems such as osteoporosis, arthritis and other

These programs cater to almost everybody, young and old.

Q: Tell us about the first program, Athletic Recovery. What is it about and who is it aimed at?

A: Athletic Recovery is for those who do sports. Many times specific problems arise, so there is need for physiotherapy. Of course, each case is different and depends on various factors. The program we offer suits the individual’s specific needs.

Q: How about the second program, Exercise and Diet. Can you tell us a few things about that?

A: In co operation with a doctor who teaches metabolism in the University of Athens, I teach the right diet and exercise which is individualized. There is a personal trainer for each patient so as to get the most of this program.

Q: The next program is Exercise and right posture for children and adults. Whatexactly is that?

A: This one caters to those who have a problem with their body such as a dysplasia of the spine, foot problems such as platypodia etc. We offer special exercises to help both kids and adults.

Q: What can you tell us about the Exercise program for facing chronic problems?

A: This program is for those who have a chronic problem of their muscle and skeleton system. People suffering from osteoporosis and arthritis will find this program highly beneficial.

Q: The last one is Ergonomics. What is that?

A: Ergonomics is the relationship of our body with any special physical activity, such as housework, our job, using computers, watching TV, using the car, gardening and anything else we do every day. We give advice to ensure the right use of our body in relation with its activity. This means you will learn how to use your body, when you do your work the right way and so on.

It is important for the people to know this so as to get tired less and achieve more; Also they can get more energy and cause less damage to their muscles and skeleton system.

Q: Where is this center located? How can we contact you?

A: It is at Vraila Armeni 6, Tennis area. Our telephone is 26610 25637
Our email is

Thank you for being with us!

Monday, 4 May 2009

A Banana Tree in a Corfiot garden!

I have walked past that garden so many times, for so many years and have never noticed that plant! Funny, isn’t it?

I was born in that old house and played in that small garden, but I have always thought that plant was a palm tree. It was smaller at that time anyway, and I was a kid-kids hardly notice these things. I was more concerned about my cats and chicken and less about the banana tree. But yesterday, as I was walking past that spot once more, I saw it. I didn’t have my web camera with me so I had to come back later to take a shot.

The first glimpse of that huge lamp- like flower deceived me; I thought-what is that, looks like a plastic lamp. You see it was hanging gracefully over the gate just in the middle of it. Exactly as a lamp should hang! Then I noticed a thick cord upwards that looked like a twisted wire. Looking up I saw the bananas; small green bananas facing the sky. You can see the pictures above. I had never seen a banana tree in blossom before. It is certainly a spectacle!

I searched the net and found these links. Just in case you would like to plant a banana tree in your garden!