It is perhaps not solely for geographical reasons that in the eighteenth century Corfu was the first stop in Greece for those making the famous "Grand Tour" of Italy and Greece. It has attracted and inspired artists such as Edward Lear, and in more recent times Lawrence Durrell who wrote "Prospero's Cell" under the conviction that it had been Corfu to inspire Shakespeare to write "The Tempest" and Henry Miller, whose "The Colossus of Maroussi" was inspired by his stay in Corfu.
The Island's Name
The Greeks don't call this island Corfu, and most of them think that it is a name of Italian origin, as well it might be, given the four hundred years of Venetian rule which defined the island in many ways. Yet, Corfu is indeed a Greek island, and though the Greeks call it Kerkira, from Corcyra, the mythical daughter of the Asopos river, Corfu is very much a Greek word too, deriving from Korfi, mountain top, because of the two distinctive summits of this island.
Identity and Charms
Like the rest of Greece, Corfu is blessed with the dazzling light that inspires talent and gives birth to beauty and creativity. But unlike the rest of Greece, Corfu and the Ionian Islands have a distinct feeling of peace and mildness, no doubt derived from their long history of more congenial circumstances, and also a strong western flavor.
One of the Extremes in a Land of Contrast and Extremes
An island, indeed an area, of great physical beauty if we also take the other six Ionian Islands into account, it has attracted and spawned an impressive number of creative talents all contributing to and savoring from the incredibly fertile mixture of different cultures that have blended and thrived on the island through the ages, giving it its distinctive features today. Greece is a land of contrasts and extremes, and the Ionian Islands constitute one of these extremities with its lush fertile landscape, its mild mannered people who love nothing more than music and poetry, so in contrast to the rough warrior folk of Crete and Mani.