Saturday, 26 March 2011

Philharmonic Society of Corfu marching show

  Yesterday we celebrated, like every 25th March, the start of the 1821 Greek War of Independence (or Greek Revolution) against the Ottoman rule. There was a parade in Esplanade, in which the four biggest bands, local schools and the navy took part. When the parade ended, the Philharmonic Society of Corfu did a little marching show on the grassy grounds of the cricket field, at the front of Liston. It was the first time a show like this has been given since 2004 and the locals seemed to appreciate this iniciative remind them the good old days when every 21st of May there was a big show given by the majority of the local wind bands at the very same place.

 Below there is a video in which you can see a big part of yesterday's show.

Edit: This is the best video to date - it covers the whole show and was taken from ground level and from a balcony of a Liston building. (Courtesy of mr. Stamatis Katapodis - mr. Spiros Margaritis)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Pentofanaro at last got rid of the parked motorcycles!

  This morning stroll around town had a suprise for me. Walking through Voulgareos street towards Esplanade and making my way through the usually busy with pedestrians, cars and motocyrcles Pentofanaro square, I realised that something has changed in the way that place looked few days before. That endless row of parked motos around the edge of the semicircular square with the famous five lamped post had vanished! A freshly painted yellow zigzaged lines now suggest that parking around the square is no more permited. Some policemen stopped at the mouth of Evgeniou Voulgareos street were redirecting the motorists whose intention was to park around the square or even traverse the pedestrenized streets of old town.

  I hope these actions will not be temporary and be the predecessor of the complete pedestrianization of the square.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Yesterday's special full moon as seen from Corfu Town

  Yesterday's full moon was a notable one. According to scientists, it was the closest and biggest one since 1992 as the distance between Earth and Moon usually is around 400,000 kilometres, while yesterday Moon was a 50,000 kms closer to us (356, 575 kilometres). Some supersticious people call it "Super Moon", an astronomical event which can cause earthquakes and other natural disasters (nothing of those things happened up to now).
  When I went out for a drink yesterday night, I took the chance and took some photos of this rare full moon. Hopefully the night sky was clear (it was cloudy during most of the day). To me, there wasn't a notable difference in its size nor in its brightness. It was just a common springtime full moon. The photos below are somewhat of low quality, taken with my compact Olympus camera.

  Did you achieve to see yesterdays "Super Moon" and took some photos? If yes, please submit your links as a comment.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Douglas column

  The Douglas column can be found on the intersection of Alexandras and Dimokratias Avenue dominating the area which surrounds it. It is build in 1843 but originally was placed near Aktaion cafe. In 1907, because of fears of possible collapse of the ground, it was moved to the present day location. 

  The column itself is a work of honour to Howard Douglas, who was the Lord High Commissioner the Ionian islands from 1835 until 1841 and responsible for founding Ionian Bank, Ionian gymnasium, the prison and constructed the psychiatric and general hospital as well as many roads.
  At the four sides of the column's base, copper anaglyphs ornate the monument made by corfiot painter and sculptor Ioannis-Vaptistis Kalosgouros (1794-1878). There is one depicting Douglas' own coat of arms, one with a diadem, one depicting Britannia holding a olive branch and a corn full of goods sitting on an ancient corfiot boat and a last one with a commemorative text written in archaic greek by Christophoros Filitas, an Ionian Academy professor of philosophy. The text commemorates all the good things Howard Douglas did for Corfu and express the gratitude of local people towards him.

Britannia holding a branch of olive tree and a corn full of goods
The commemorative text in archaic greek
Douglas coat of arms
The diadem

  The momument is known colloquially as "η κολώνα του Ντούγκλα" ("Ι kolóna tu Dúgla"). It gave its name to the whole area around it. Unfortunately, like most of corfiot monuments, the columns needs a clean up and the copper anaglyphs need to be restored and protected against corrosion made by humidity and sea salt.

Monday, 14 March 2011

The Feast of Orthodoxy litany

  As every year, yesterday the island celebrated the feast of Orthodoxy (a commemoration of the final defeat of Iconoclasm and the restoration of icons to the churches)  with the procession of Saint Theodora holy relics. The litany started from the cathedral in Spilia, followed the road in Mouragia, entered the Liston area from the Palace and headed back to the Cathedral via Nikiforou Theotoki street.
  Five corfiot wind bands, the Philharmonic Society of Corfu, Mantzaros, Kapodistrias, Korakiana and Gastouri philharmonic bands took part at the procession playing their religious marches, sounds which made corfiot music famous in Greece and beyond.

- Some videos from last year's procession:

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Another marvellous concert given by the Corfu Philharmonic Society's S.O.

  Yesterday night I had the chance to go to another wonderful concert given by the Corfu Philharmonic Society's symphonic orchestra under the direction of Alkis Baltas. The concert, which took place in the Municipal Theatre, consisted of 19th and 20th century music like Bizet, de Falla and Arutiunian.    

  It is obvious that the orchestra, founded by Dimitris Kafiris and now directed by mr. Baltas has been envolved from a small amateur orchestra into a semi-professional one, judging from its continuous improvement in terms of quality and quantity. It aspires to become the new professional symphonic orchestra of Corfu which will substitute the now defunct Municipal symphonic orchestra, a victim of local government's lack of funds.


  We should support this initiative. Corfu, an island with such an important music tradition should have its own professional symphonic orchestra which will present us the best of classical music world and interact with the local wind band tradition.

Alexander Arutiunian - Concert for trombet and orchestra (excerpt) - Solo trombet: Sokratis Anthis

George Bizet - Symphony no. 1 in C major, 1st movement: Allegro vivo

Manuel de Falla - Ritual Fire Dance (from "Wedded by Witchcraft")

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Pentofanaro square in early 1980s

  The little square of Pentofanaro is a meeting point for the locals or the tourists. It took its name from the  lamppost which bears five lamps. Especially in the evenings, it is frequented by the youth of our town. 
  Thirty years before, Pentofanaro still was busy with people but with cars too! Traffic was permitted and a set of traffic lights and zebra crossings had been giving an urban feel to it. I can still recall, when I was a child, those traffic lights and the square before the (semi)pedestrianisation. Unfortunately, nowadays, the square is full of parked motorcycles, most of them owned by rebellious teenagers who make a lot of noise with their motos. 
  On the photos below, taken from the Arcadion hotel, you can also notice the absence of serious traffic, as cars were quite few back then. It was significantly easier to find a place to park your car, the roads had been in a better condition than today and the trees looked greener and "bushier". 

August 1982 - with the Philarmonic Society of Corfu marching
August 1982
August 1980
August 1980
August 1982

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Pentegholétsa - a tradition which dates back to the venetian era

  Pentegholétsa (also colloquially refered as "petegoulió") is an ancient event which takes place every last Thursday night before Clean Monday ("Katharí Dheftéra" in greek). On that night in the intersection of Nikiforou Theotoki with Michail Theotoki streets (a place colloquially known as "Pínia" - from the italian world "pigna"), people gather to watch some local actors chatting and commenting on the local news from the old building windows and from a stage placed on street level. In the old days, real housewifes from nearby buildings' windows used to perform, gossiping about the local love stories, flirts, cheats and politics.

  Here is a short video from last Thursday's event. The actors employ the local accent, using as more colloquial words as the can. Probably most of you can't make out a single word but you can have a taste of what "Pentegholétsa" is about.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Thomas Flagginis house in Anemomylos

  Between the private Mon Repos beach and the hotel which bears the same name with the "plage" stands a recently renovated 17th century house, which belonged to the rich greek merchant and lawyer Thomas Flagginis (1573-1648). Flagginis was born in Corfu but spent most of his life in Venice, where he made a fortune. When he died, his will stated that in case his daughter would die without any children, he would like to donate the house to the orthodox church for educational use. So, in 1665 the "Flagginio college" was funded educating hudreds of local children and publishing some interesting books. The college existed up to 1797 but it opened again in 1823. In 1905 it closed forever.

  The house has an attached a picturesque private church and a beautiful garden with palm trees. The church itself was built in the local traditional style.

  There is a plaque which commemorates the renovation of the complex, which took place in 1979 by the Corfu Reading Society. 

  Nowadays, the building houses the Anemomylos Cultural and Enviromental Society. Unfortunately, it is closed to the public. Although, you can browse the site from the railings and apreciate one of the most beautiful traditional corfiot houses.

- Then and now: