Follow us on a walk through the Old Town of Corfu and its alleys -called kantounia by the locals- while enjoying an ice cream from Nostos Delissimo! Explore the town with us! Enjoy the experience, and make it a favorite memory!
Porta Riala, the entrance into the Old Town of Corfu
Let’s start with the beginning of Eugeniou Voulgareos Street. This point was once the entrance from the countryside to the town through the majestic Royal Gate! The gate opened in the morning and closed at night, protecting the walled city from potential enemies – mainly sudden Ottoman raids. The gate was demolished for functional reasons, but the area still retains the place name Porta Riala – a paraphrase of the Italian word for Royal Gate.
Let’s move along the pedestrian street of Eugeniou Voulgareos with local jewellery, clothing and accessories shops, towards the main square. Just before we reach the opening, we will stop at Nostos Delissimo to choose our favourite ice cream from the colourful display of delicious flavours made from fresh Greek milk.
The famous “Kantounia”.
With ice cream in hand, we’ll turn left onto Kapodistriou pedestrian street to wander through the winding cantinas, amidst the densely packed houses and musky laundry. At the “kantouni” of St. Spyridon church, we light a candle with a wish and at the end of it, we go right up the steps of “St. Nicholas of the Elders”. Here are buried the remains of the warriors of the Battle of Nafpaktos, one of the most important battles in European history.
Walking through the alleys, we observe the suffocating construction, the anarchic layout, and the irregular passages, which, against the rules, create a setting of unparalleled charm!
Steps and stairways, narrow passages, small arches, imposing entrances to mansions, and other humble doors of small local houses. The more we wander, the more we become fascinated, and the more likely we are to find ourselves in the same place again and again, and also to get lost, but without any stress, as the Old Town of Corfu is in fact small.
The most beautiful little square of Corfu.
Every now and then, a small square pops up like a clearing and a lung of breath, among the hundreds of houses and the crowded inhabitants.
We are looking for the beautiful square of Panagia of Kremasti, with the picturesque church, the well-kept houses, and the characteristic carved cistern, from which the locals used to draw water in the old times. Legend has it that at night a haunted calf would come out of the cistern, with chains on its legs, threatening to devour anyone who walked in the area. The legend was in fact the creation of the smugglers of a time when, as soon as darkness fell, they would spread terror so that they could deal unmolested.
From the small stairway and the Venetian arches, we proceed along Filellinon Street to go down Philharmoniki Street. Under the beautiful building of the Philharmonic Orchestra “Nikolaos Halikiopoulos – Manzaros” we might be lucky enough to hear a rehearsal of the band or even a student playing his music piece.
The emblematic Town Hall square
We are heading straight towards the Town Hall Square. The pedestrian streets are wider, and the area is very lively. Countless tourists are wandering around, the shops, cafes, and bars are full of people, the locals with their shopping in the hands and their characteristic accent – very close to the Venetian one – greet each other cordially or stop for a quick chat at the so-called Piazza.
Here we understand how wonderful the Old Town of Corfu is: although it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is still a lively town, with residents, commercial activity, professionals, tourism, and culture!
Arriving at the Town Hall Square, we realize that this square was once the official square of the town. On one side is the Catholic Cathedral and on the other the baroque building of the San Giacomo theatre which is now the Town Hall.
The San Giacomo theatre was the first lyric theatre in Greece. Since 1730, it hosted famous operas and works by famous composers. Looking at it, we imagine the crowds of opera-fans, the beautiful ladies in luxurious clothes, the single mademoiselles with masks on their faces, and when the velvet curtains were opened, the experienced orchestra and the famous singers who arrived from other European cities. Corfu has experienced moments of culture and splendor comparable to the cities of the West, it is obvious even on a walk like this.
Nostos, a part of Corfu.
The love for Corfu and the successful start of the first Nostos pastry shop in St Spyridon square in the Old Town of Corfu, led the business to return again to the Old Town. This is how new Nostos Delissimo was created. Apart from the ice cream we enjoyed on our walk, Nostos Delissimo offers puff pastries, traditional sweets, modern pastries, pralines, biscuits, diet products, and inspired birthday cakes. Nostos Delissimo is located in the heart of a unique monument, the magical Old Town of Corfu, and makes locals and visitors alike happy!