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By Jim Potts

Scattered off the west coast of mainland Greece are the seven Ionian Islands, celebrated for their spectacular landscapes, olive groves and classical associations. Together with the mountainous mainland region of Epirus, the combined populations of Corfu, Paxos, Lefkas, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Zakynthos and Kythira constitute less than a twentieth of the population of Greece, yet they have made a huge contribution to the culture of the country, before and since becoming part of the Greek state. The unsurpassed beauty of the islands and of the Pindus Mountains has stimulated the imagination of countless writers and artists from Homer to Byron, Edward Lear and the Durrells, Louis de Bernières and Nicholas Gage, as well as scores of nineteenth-century travellers.
Drawing a mosaic portrait of the Ionian Islands and special places of interest in Epirus, Corfu resident Jim Potts focuses on the landscapes, legends, traditions and historical events that have appealed most strongly to the imaginations of writers, residents and travellers.
This book reveals the extraordinary cultural legacy of this beautiful part of the world.
ODYSSEUS AND SAPPHO: the landscapes of the poets; Homer’s Ithaca and Scheria; Sappho’s leap; the identification of Dodona; classic ground; King Pyrrhus.
THE SEVEN ISLANDS: Strategic issues; Corfu V. Kefalonia; Byron and Casanova; Empress Elizabeth of Austria; Greek writers, Solomos, Laskaratos, Theotokis and Valaoritis.
TURKEY, VENICE, BRITAIN, GREECE: conflict and occupation; union and liberation; the Second World War and civil war; nationalism and identity; cultural differences.
JIM POTTS is the author of Corfu Blues, and co-editor of Swedish Reflections, from Beowulf to Bergman. He worked for The British Council for 35 years in many countries. He now splits his time between Corfu, Epirus and the UK.

Ionian Inspires… Cricket

After the success of last year’s Ionian Inspires event in London, as part of the series of activities associated with the World Travel Market touristic exhibition, the Region of the Ionian Islands presents another unique event. The theme of this year’s Ionian Inspires is cricket in Greece, and the establishment of an International Cricket Festival in the Ionian Islands.

The event will take place in the historic setting of Lord’s cricket ground in London, in association with the Hellenic Cricket Federation, on Tuesday 10th November 2009, at 7:00. Guests will include journalists from the fields of sport and tourism, players and opinion-formers from the world of cricket.
In the Long Room at the home of cricket the programme for the International Cricket Festival will be presented. The Festival will take place in Corfu, in Kefalonia and in Zakynthos during the months of May, June, September and October. The aim is to establish the Festival on a regular basis, to develop theme-based tourism and to extend the touristic period. Fundamentally, the Festival hopes to spread the spirit of cricket – as expressed in the motto ‘Catch the Spirit’, marking the centenary of the International Cricket Council.
Personal appearances by famous cricketers, the participation of children from all over the world in a spirit of comradeship and equal opportunities, presentations of the history of the game, fans joining in and competing – all these elements will coexist in the ideal location: Corfu – the centre-point of the Festival. Corfu, which connects culturally the West with the East, whose history reflects that of modern Europe, provides the ideal environment for this four month long celebration.
The Ionian Inspires event is held in cooperation with the Greek National Tourist Organisation and the International Cricket Council.

IONIAN CONCERTS 2009 - Music is in our nature

“Ionian Concerts” enters its fifth year in an optimistic mood – asserting that, in the face of economic crisis, “music is in our nature”: that the music in our Corfiot nature can turn our spirits around, even under the most difficult conditions.
This year, the “Ionian Concerts” have managed to create a cultural mosaic that both supports local traditions, and welcomes international artists and musicians, in the long tradition of hospitality here in the Ionian Islands.
The Ionian University, the Prefecture of Corfu, the Municipality of Corfu, the Chamber of Commerce, the Philharmonic Bands of the island and the Association of Choirs have joined forces for the first time with the full support of the Region of the Ionian Islands and the participation of the Ministry of Culture and the Greek National Tourism Organisation to organise the best Festival that Corfu has ever experienced.
International artists will meet this Summer in Corfu, including the legendary Eric Burdon with the Animals, the outstanding Japanese pianist Hideyo Harada, the new big talent of American jazz JD Walter, the trombonist Jeff Freedman, the amazing Indian dancer Ananda Shankar Jayant, the Thai ethnic jazz band Pomelo Town, the big band from Germany Backnang and many other acknowledged artists from different sides of the world.
From the Greek side we feature well known artists such as Lambis Vassiliadis, Dimos Dimitriadis, the Melos Brass, Vasilis Rakopoulos, George Kontrafouris, the Valkani Brothers Florina Band - the best Balkan traditional band – the Corfiot classic composer George Katsaros, with the Symphonic Orchestra of the Municipality of Athens and the great folk composer Christos Nikolopoulos.
The whole series of “Ionian Concerts” consists of thirty five musical events, of remarkable quality that will impress the demanding listener, refresh the visitor and spread the perfume of sound around the city and the villages of Corfu.

Ionian Inspires a magical evening in London about inspiration drawn from the Ionian experience

The event Ionian inspires held on Wednesday 12th November 2008 at a central London club, with the participation of significant personalities of the British intellectual world, but also representatives of the British media.

Honoured guests were: Louis de Bernières, author of the novel "Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”, Lee Durrell, wife of the famous writer Gerald Durrell - writer herself also- and Jim Potts, writer and former director of the British Council, who coordinated evening’s speeches and discussion. The Region of the Ionian Islands hosted the event, where Region’s Secretary-General Sotiris Vosdou welcomed the guests and the British journalists. Overall at the event they were around 130 attendees, which is unprecedented for such an event held in London. It is remarkable that a correspondent from one of the major Greek television channels mentioned that so many British journalists in a Greek event have not been seen before. To mention few: The Observer, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Daily Mirror, BBC Fast Track, Daily Mail / The Mail on Sunday, BBC 5, Conde Nast Traveler, Timesonline.co.uk, Harpers Bazaar, Daily Express / Sunday Express, The Sun, Greece Magazine, British Guide of Travel Writers, New! Magazine, the London Paper, Entertainment News, GMTV, MSN.com, Star, OK, The Travel Channel, Daily Star, You and Your Wedding, A Place in the Sun, New!, Food and Travel, Anglo - Hellenic News Letter, Closer, Alpha TV and Eleftherotypia.

Among the Greek attendees were the Secretary General GNTO Iraklis Valvis, the Secretary General of the South Aegean Region Charalambos Êokkinos and representatives of the Local Government and bodies of the four prefectures of the Ionian.

At the beginning of the event the Secretary General of GNTO addressed brief greeting and then the Secretary General of the Region welcomed the distinguished guests and presented Louis de Bernières with an icon of St. Gerasimos, the volume "Ionian Islands" and an honorary plaque recognising his contribution to the promotion of Cephalonia and Ionian Sea through his work. Similar gifts offered to the other two authors. Louis de Bernières took the floor and thanked Mr Vosdou for the "symbolic" gift responding with humor that St Gerasimos is the protector of mad people. Soon after he mentioned his first fears regarding the impact of his book might had to the potential tourist sudden intrusion to the hitherto peaceful island or the excessive use of the names of heroes in commercial activities "the tavern of Corelli", "the ouzeri of Pelagia" "Kapten Corelli Tours" etc. He even remembered a phone call from the chairman of the Hoteliers of Cephalonia, soon after the film version of his book: "Thank you, Thank you 25%" shouted Mr Galiatsatos delighted, implying the increase of tourists arrivals by 25% that summer.

The event "Ionian inspires" was an emotional evening dedicated to literature, poetry and love as those writers inspired from the local colour of the Ionian. Their words were emotive and warm; they spoke from their hearts about their experiences and conveyed to attendees (with their own language) the picture of our ashtonishing islands. It is worth mentioning the intervention of another author, John Waller, who addressed the audience stressing that this is the real Greece and not the one that malignant press articles tried to proclaim only few days ago.

The guests were offered plenty of wine from Corfu and Cephalonia, and Greek dishes (even sofrito).

The evening ended magnificently, with an exceptional Greek traditional music concert for piano and voice. Marina Theodoropoulou (a graduate of the Department of Music Studies of the Ionian University) performed traditional songs in their first execution and Helen Kokki accompanied her at the piano.

The guests left content of the quality evening giving us the promise that will not only write about the event but soon will visit the islands to experience this famous Inspiration of the Ionian.

First to visit Louis de Bernières, who the organisers will host next summer in Corfu and they even invited him to participate in the festival "Ionian Concerts" playing the mandolin in a special show (for those who do not know Louis de Bernieres plays flute, mandolin and guitar and he is member of the group "the Antonius Players").

Énternational Conference «Cultural Routes in the Mediterranean»

The Municipality of Corfu in collaboration with the University of Bari in Italy, organises on the 28th and 29th November an international conference on the topic «Cultural Routes in the Mediterranean», which will take place in the Ionian Cultural Center in Faliraki. Participants of this conference are professors from the University of Bari, the Ionian University and executives of the Municipality of Corfu. This conference is part of the programme Si.RI.aR of the Community Initiative INTERREG IIIA, GREECE-ITALY, 2000-2006. At the conference will be presented the results of various studies carried out in the previous period from the partners, which are related to the promotion and development of the historical and architectural monuments, like Venetian Shipyards in the Gulf of Gouvia.

The Korea Foundation is supporting an exhibition of Korean traditional paintings in the Museum of Asian Art in Corfu.
This exhibition, whose theme is "Korea through its landscapes," will be held from April 1, 2007 to August 31, 2007 and will introduce 26 pre-18th century Korean landscape paintings which the Korea University Museum has loaned for the exhibition, including "Valley of cool breezes (Cheongpunggyedo)' by Jeong Sun (1676-1759) and "Playing the Geomungo in a bamboo grove" by Kim Hong-do (1745-1806).
As the Museum of Asian Art has already held an exhibition of its own Korean traditional paintings having the same theme as this exhibition from November 21, 2006 to February 28, 2007 with support from the Korea Foundation, this exhibition will provide visitors to the Museum with an excellent opportunity to see pre-18th century Korean nature and appreciate Koreans' views of nature, as well as the beauty of Korean traditional art.
The Museum of Asian Art in Greece is the only museum in the country specializing in Asian art and is situated on the island of Corfu, which is visited by about 1.5 million tourists every year.

Exhibition Details
- Title: "Korea Through its Landscapes"
- Exhibits: Twenty-six pre-18th Korean paintings from the Korea University
Museum's collection
- Date: April 1 to August 31, 2007
- Place: Museum of Asian Art in Corfu, Greece
- Organizers: Korea Foundation, Korea University Museum, Corfu Museum of Asian Art

Saxophonist gibt Auswärtsspiel

Dimos Dimitriadis, griechischer Spitzensaxofonist, Lehrer an der Ionischen Universität und einer der Hauptakteure der „Ionian Concerts“, muss sich in einem Auswärtsspiel in Padova bewähren.

The Game heisst seine erste persönliche Plattenaufnahme und Dimos mit seinem Begleitquartett (Giorgos Kontatroufis – Piano, Mark Abrams – Bass, Ville Pynssi – Drums) tritt am bedeutenden Jazz Festival Padova Porsche am 23. 11. um 11 Uhr abends auf. Zwei Stunden früher, im selben Festivalereignis, spielt der sagenumwobene Ornette Coleman mit seinem Quartett, und am darauf folgenden Tag ist der andere Großmeister des Jazz, Dave Holland dran. Was meint ihr, gehen wir nach Padova?

Für mehr Infos: http://www.padovajazz.com/padovajazz/festival/calendario.asp?ID=7
Lord Rothschild receives honorary citizenship
On 2 September 2005, in a ceremony held at the Town Hall of Kassiopaion Council at Kouloura, British philanthropist Lord Rothschild was awarded honorary citizenship of the Municipality of Kassiopi by the mayor of the region, Vasilis Katsaros. Lord Rothschild is a frequent visitor to his estate near Kerasia. Among his philanthropic actions has been the establishment, with Lord Sainsbury, of the Butrint Foundation, a charitable trust whose principal objective is to restore and preserve the Butrint site in southern Albania for the benefit of the general public.
BBC to film in Corfu in September
The BBC will film a half-hour programme about Corfiot cooking in September 2006. The programme, called 'Mediterranean Escapes', is part of a ten-part series about Mediterranean food, and will be presented by celebrity chef Rik Stein, who owns a seafood restaruant in Padstow, Devon, and who has already worked with the BBC on two popular food serials. The show will be broadcast in 2007, and based on previous viewing figures, the producers, Denham Productions, expect audience levels to reach several million. The programme will showcase several local venues, including restaurants and food-based businesses. Among them are Toula's Taverna at Agni, the Convent of Agia Paraksevi in Kinopiastes, Hector's Bakery in Gastouri, Karidis Taverna in Boukari and The River Restaurant in Lefkimmi, Corfu Town's open market and honey producers in Old Perithia. Other programmes in the series will focus on the cooking of Majorca, Sicily, Puglia and Crete, as well as other Mediterranean locations.
Corfu top Easter destination
For yet another year, Corfu proved itself the top destination in Greece for the 2006 Easter holidays. Tens of thousands of visitors from Greece and abroad joined locals in celebrating the unique traditions, while enjoying unseasonably summery weather. The island's success came after a promotional campaign in the Greek media which highlighted Corfu's rich Easter customs. The campaign came about as a result of an initiative by the General Secretary of the Regional Government of the Ionian Islands, Sotiris Vosdos, with the cooperation of the Ionian Island Tourism Authority. The campaign included spots on three national television channels as well as adverts in newspapers and magazines.
Corfu tour operator celebrates 25 years
Corfu-based tour operator Chamber Music Holidays and Festivals will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2007 with an expanded programme of holidays and events. Destinations will include Prague, Vienna, Hungary, Dubrovnik, Florence and Canada, as well as Corfu. The 2006 'Divertimenti in Corfu' Festival will take place in late September, with concerts at the Chandris Hotel and in private houses. A special event is planned in the ancient theatre at the amazing archaeological site at Butrint, in Albania just across the straights of Corfu. This UNESCO heritage site is rated as one of the most interesting in the Mediterranean. Chamber Music Holidays is owned and run by Corfu resident Vivienne Pittendrigh. It brings together lovers of classical music with world-renowned performers, combining concerts, excursions and master classes led by the professional musicians. The 2006 Corfu Festival takes place from 26 September to 10 October, and will as usual be based at the Corfu Chandris Hotel.
Libra Holidays to schedule direct Corfu Flight?
British-based tour operator Libra Holidays has expressed interest in scheduling a permanent direct flight linking London and Corfu. The move came after a meeting between the company and the management of the Centre for Commercial and Technological Development in the Ionian Islands, which took place on 14 March 2006 in London. According to the Prefect of Corfu, Giorgos Machimaris, the company appeared very interested in the proposition, and is now studying the relevant statistics. Filed: 15/3/06 (Source: ERT)
Seaplane flights now scheduled for Patras
Regular seaplane flights by the Corfu-based company AirSea Lines began in March between Corfu and the city of Patras in the Western Peleponnese. The first flight, on 24 March 2006, was inaugurated in the presence of the Merchant Marine Minister, Manolis Kefaloyiannis. Scheduled flights from Corfu to the Ionian islands of Ithaka and Lefkada began in April, while a new base is being readied in Athens, in the marine area of Faliro.
Thames cruise promotes Ionian tourism
As part of a promotion focusing on tourism in the Ionian islands, representatives from over a hundred UK tour operators and travel agencies enjoyed an official dinner on board a Thames cruise boat. The dinner, which took place on 14 March 2006, was hosted by the Ionian Island Tourism Authority in cooperation with the Centre for Commercial and Technological Development in the Ionian Islands, the Prefectural Authorities of Kefallonia, Ithaka and Zakynthos, the Municipality of Corfu and the Lefkada Chamber of Commerce. A special presentation followed the dinner, during which the guests were given packs containing full information about the region and other materials of interest.
Griechenland kann in den nächsten Jahren in Europa die erste Stelle im Bereich Tourismus, Reisen und Freizeit werden, unterstrich Ministerpräsident Karamanlis an der Generalversammlung des Verbandes der Tourismusunternehmen (SETE) am Dienstag. Der Ministerpräsident betonte, mit einem hochwertigen Dienstleistungsangebot könne Griechenland zwölf Monate im Jahr Tourismus haben und bemerkte: “Das touristische Produkt ist verbunden mit seiner Heimat. Es ist die Erfahrung Griechenlands, das Erleben Griechenlands“. Die Bilanz der Regierungsarbeit im Bereich Tourismus ziehend, hielt er fest, Griechenland habe nun eine kohärente Tourismuspolitik mit Plan, Strategie und konkreter Zielsetzung und mit der Schaffung des Ministeriums für touristischen Aufbau, welches das Interesse der Regierung am Tourismus belege. Ausserdem bemerkte er, mit dem Ziel, die Saison zu verlängern und Touristen höheren Niveaus anzuziehen, würden Massnahmen getroffen, welche die Unterstützung der regionalen und kommunalen Verwaltung, die Einrichtung von Kontrollorganen, die Beobachtung des Tourismusmarktesò aber auch die bessere Qualifizierung der Menschen betreffen, die mit dem Tourismus zu tun haben. Grundlegende Schwerpunkte der Regierung ist die Stärkung des Unternehmertums, die Promotion durch modernes Marketing, die erneute Ausrichtung des Tourismusproduktes an dessen Keimzelle aber auch die Bereicherung der Zusammensetzung des Tourismusproduktes um neue Sparten des Tourismus.. Was die Investitionen betrifft, bemerkte der Ministerpräsident, es seien bereits 480 Investitionspläne vorgelegt worden, von denen ungefähr die Hälfte genehmigt wurde, mit einem Budget das 560 Mio € übertrifft. «Die Rolle des Ministeriums für touristischen Aufbau ist im Bereich des öffentlichen Dienstes und der staatsnahen Betriebe noch immer nicht in dem Masse begriffen und akzeptiert worden, wie es nötig wäre», erwähnte der Präsident des SETE, Stavros Andreadis und unterstrich die Notwendigkeit der autonomen Handlungskompetenz für die Effizienz der Tourismuspolitik. Hinsichtlich des Touristenaufkommens stellte Andreadis fest, der Negativtrend habe sich gewendet für den griechischen Tourismus, welcher 2005 gegenüber dem Vorjahr 2004 ungefähr 4,7% Zunahme bei den Ankünften und 6,7% bei den Einnahmen verzeichnen konnte. Dabei bemerkte er das Fehlen einer statistischen Beobachtung und Information für die griechische Tourismuswirtschaft und betonte die Notwendigkeit zur Schaffung einer „begleitenden Buchführung des Tourismus.“ Vorher, an der geschlossenen Sitzung des Verbandes, hatte er gegenüber der Ministerin für touristischen Aufbau Fani Pali-Petralia als erste Priorität die Ausarbeitung eines Entwicklungsplanes für den griechischen Tourismus genannt, welcher sowohl auf die Angebots- als auch die Nachfrageseite Bezug nehme. Der Plan solle sich auch beziehen auf die notwendige Zusammenarbeit mit anderen Ministerien und sollte messbare Ziele setzen, bemerkte der Präsident des SETE. Fani Pali-Petralia gab ihrer Überzeugung Ausdruck, der griechische Tourismus werde sich in den nächsten Jahren „viele Stufen höher befinden als dort, wo er 2004 stand“ und betonte, das Ministerium habe die Zielsetzungen in hierarchische Reihenfolge gebracht, die zu erfüllen sind, damit Griechenland eine der Topdestinationen Europas für das ganze Jahr wird. In dieser Richtung, gab sie an, bewege sich auch die Schaffung eines zeitgemässen gesetzlichen und institutionellen Rahmen mit weniger Bürokratie und vereinfachten Prozeduren und in diesem Rahmen wird eine neue Abteilung im Ministerium geschaffen, die als «ïne stop shop» -Empfangsbüro und Koordinationsstelle für grosse Investitionen funktionieren wird. Bezug nehmend auf den Bereich touristischer Investitionen, betonte Frau Petralia, das Ministerium beschleunige die Realisierung von Investitionen die in den 4. Fördermassnahmenkatalog der EU integriert sind und es wird ein neues Unternehmensprogramm ausgeschrieben, damit der Tourismus eine Vorreiterrolle in den Investitionskapitalen des 4. Förderrahmens bekommt. Gleichzeitig betonte sie, der „Schlüssel“ für die Entwicklung des griechischen Tourismus sei die Schaffung neuer Infrastrukturen, die Verbesserung der gebotenen Dienstleistungen mit Betonung des Preis-Leistungsverhältnisses des touristischen Produktes und der Bewerbung des Tourismus auf dem in- und ausländischen Markt.
How far do you think anyone is prepared to go in order to acquire a house in Corfu?
In the case of George Best, it seems he is prepared to go a very long way indeed. He has decided to sell everything that connects him with his glorious past in the world of football in order to accumulate the money he needs to buy a villa in Corfu. According to news reports from England, yesterday he auctioned off the football trophies he had been awarded during his career for a total of 240,000 euros. However we believe that such a strong personality has no need of sentimental ties with the past. And George Best has shown us that he continues to be a very powerful personality. We look forward to welcoming you to Corfu, George – it will suit you perfectly.
Mr. Mark Ottaway declared Honorary Citizen of Corfu
Mr. Mark Ottaway, the Travel Editor of the Sunday Times, has been declared an honorary citizen of Corfu by the Mayor of Corfu, Mr. Alex. Mastoras. The British travel writer and author has demonstrated his love of Corfu in his many articles about the island, and is untiring in his promotion of both Corfu and Paxos.
New Catholic Archbishop for Corfu
Following the retirement of Mgr. Anthony Barthalitis, His Holiness the Pope has appointed a new Catholic Archbishop for Corfu , Mgr. Ioannis Spitieris of the Capuchin order.
New Conference Center in Corfu Palace
On Wednesday 18.12.2002 the official opening ceremony for the new Hotel’s Conference Center Dionysios Solomos, took place at the Corfu Palace Hotel with the presence of the local authorities, tourist enterprises, and members of the Corfu Palace Club. This large investment is a part of the renovation and modernization project that has started a few years ago in order to improve the famous hotel’s infrastructure and services. The Corfu Tourist industry will now benefit from the operation of a modern 550 m2 large Conference Center named after the national poet Dionysios Solomos. The Conference Center consists of 1 main conference room with a capacity of 350 sits and can be divided in to 3 equal sized rooms with a capacity of 100 sits each. Those rooms are named after the famous Corfiots: Nikolaos Mantzaros ( The Greek National Anthem Composer ), Spyros Samaras ( The Olympic Games Anthem Composer ) and the writer Konstantinos Theotokis. The Lobby and Bar area are used to serve the coffee breaks and the satellite kitchen is able to produce for up to 250 pers. set menu dinner or 500 pers Cocktail Reception. There is also an organizer’s room available offering the required electronic and other office equipment as well as secretary support. Translation booths can be arranged in the main conference area and the Phillips technology audiovisual guarantees the function of a modern conference.
Educational Programme in Kato Korakiana
An educational programme for schoolchildren is to take place at the Corfu Branch of the National Art Gallery, at Kato Korakiana, in connection with the exhibition now showing there, of the works of Panagiotis Tetsis. The programme is aimed at pupils of the 4th, 5th and 6th grades of primary school, and at the 1st, 2nd and 3rd years of Gymnasion. Up to 25 children can take part in the programme at any one time, and the programme lasts one and a half hours. For further information and details about participation contact the Art Gallery, tel . 2661093333.The exhibition of works will be open to the public until 8 December.

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