OLD PERITHIA | HERITAGE
The island of Corfu, often described as the ‘Emerald island’, is well known for its Venetian architecture, beautiful beaches, turquoise seas, abundance of flora and fauna, Greek tavernas and a wonderful sense of hospitality wherever you go. But to many, the ancient village of Old Perithia remains something of an enigma.
This historic village of Paleá (Old) Períthia, situated in the north-east corner of the island just below Mount Pantokrator, is the oldest permanently inhabited settlement in Corfu, with records dating back to the 14th century, although it's believed that the village was established around 700BC. It was once the wealthiest village on the island, by the mid 17th century there were 130 houses, built entirely by hand. Many were extended or restored in the mid 19th century, of which over 100 still exist today, although some of which have now fallen into ruins. The village with its cobbled streets and ancient houses is encircled by eight churches and set amidst beautiful countryside.
Distinctive and picturesque, Old Perithia is a 'Designated Area of Natural Beauty' the oldest, and only village on the island to be established as 'A Protected Heritage Site.'
‘Suspended in time’ Old Perithia has long been seen as a paradigm of Corfu's rustic charm, and The Merchant's House captures all that is lovely about the region.
The old village continues to be an enchanting discovery for visitors from all over the world as today visitors are rewarded with a fascinating glimpse into the way in which people used to live, a hideaway with spectacular unspoiled mountain views and that rests peacefully at night beneath the light of the moon and clear, unpolluted Ionian sky.
SHOPS & TAVERNAS IN THE AREA
The village has 4 well known tavernas, each serving traditional local food sourced mainly from the mountains and local producers. There are 2 places that sell the local honey and the majority of the tavernas also serve drinks, ice creams, tea and coffee. The nearest local shops are currently in New Perithia, approximately 10-15 minutes drive from the village, you'll find a couple more tavernas there too. For larger supermarkets, other shops, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, dry cleaners etc. either Kassiopi or Acharavi are closest (20 minutes drive), although Acharavi has easier parking on either side of the main road.
Because the village of Old Perithia is a 'Protected Heritage Site', swimming pools are not allowed. But the good news is that there are some beautiful beaches within easy reach of the village, from long sandy beaches with gentle slopes to the sea, to stony beaches, and those that are slightly more remote, or off the beaten track. Here we focus on those nearest to Old Perithia.
The closest beach of Agios Spyridon is just 15-20 minutes drive away.
Many more beautiful beaches are within 25-30 minutes reach and, of course, there are many more than are mentioned here. Everyone has a favourite spot. Most beaches have ‘Blue Flag’ status for cleanliness and safety, and some beaches have extra facilities including showers and toilets. We recommend you take swimming shoes with you, as many beaches are quite pebbly and although there aren’t many spiky sea creatures, you may also find it easier to swim and walk on shore with them on.
Agios Spyridon is the closest, just 15-20 minutes away. This was Gerald Durrell's favourite beach, referred to in 'My Family and Other Animals' as 'the beach of white lilies'. To get there, drive down from Old Perithia and when you reach the main coastal road, turn left and very soon after, you see the sign to 'Agios Spyridon Beach' on the right. Follow the road, stay straight and you'll find this attractive sandy ‘Blue Flag’ beach, set in a charming bay with a church, a small row of tavernas, and gentle slopes to the sea making it ideal for children too. In the same area there’s a lagoon (Antinioti) and a nature reserve: cross the small bridge over the lagoon to find more secluded beaches as you walk towards Acharavi along the attractive coastal path. Don't walk the path at sundown as the mosquitoes spring into action around.
Kassiopi is 20-25 minutes away and is clearly signposted. This popular harbour village has limited parking in the harbour area, where there are some excellent places to eat, but from the harbour, walk along the coastal path to the left (past Limani bar) and after 5 minutes you'll come across Bataria beach, as well as narrow paths to secluded rocks. It's an attractive walk along this stretch, and if you keep walking around the path (past some stunning villas) you arrive back in the top of the village. that time.
Avlaki is 20 minutes away along the coastal road towards Corfu town. Turn left soon after Kassiopi, follow signs to Agios Stefanos. It is an 800metre long stretch of mostly pebbly beach with various watersports and sailing at either end (it gets quite windy there some days). There is a taverna there too. The beach also has ‘Blue Flag’ status and is one of the ‘quieter’ beaches.
Agios Stefanos is 25 minutes away along the same coastal road towards Corfu town. Turn left soon after Kassiopi. There is a small pebbly beach just beyond Eucalyptus taverna, but the bay is used mainly for mooring boats, and the very good tavernas along the waterfront. There are 2 good supermarkets, a couple of gift shops, 2 boat hire companies and a few bars.
Kerasia, one of our favourites, is 30 minutes away. Carry on through Agios Stefanos along the winding road to reach this relatively exclusive 280 metre long pebbly beach, enclosed at both sides and with a small jetty. This is one of the prettiest beaches and lies close to the Rothschild’s holiday residence. It is well protected and has ‘Blue Flag’ status, with just 1 taverna and a bar. Sun loungers are available for hire and there’s a small beach shop too.