Gerald Durrell and The Durrells on Corfu

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Every May, Gerald Durrell’s conservationist widow, returns to Corfu.

Joined by botanists and Durrell fans, a week is spent exploring Corfu Town and the island’s flora and fauna. Corfu gained its popularity after Gerald’s memoir, “My Family and Other Animals”, was published in 1956.

Gerald Durrell was a true animal lover. He has been the figure of paintings and statues and his name has been in millions of articles and lots of books. One of his most known statues is located the Zoo of Jersey

Durrell enthusiasts can retrace his footsteps as part of the tour group or alternatively walk in Gerald’s footsteps by visiting the “White House” at Kalami where his brother Lawrence and his wife Nancy lived between 1935 and 1939. Gerald was a frequent visitor and wrote “Prospero’s Cell” at this beautiful Corfiot bay residence. 

"The White House" is now a taverna, perched on the water's edge above the brilliant clear blue sea, an idyllic spot to enjoy a coffee or glass of wine while examining the sepia Durrell family photos that adorn the tavernas walls.

Take a long walk or short boat ride from Kalami to the Shrine of St Arsenius, where Lawrence, Nancy and friends swam naked. Lawrence would drop cherries into the water "clear down two fathoms to the sandy floor where they loom like drops of blood” and Nancy would retrieve them, “bringing them up in her lips." From flat white rocks, you can dive into a crystal-clear pool, with the tiny white shrine standing above.

 

For avid walkers, a climb up the mountain behind and north of Barbati will reveal the flora and fauna described so vividly in Gerald’s book. In spring the mountainside is adorned with a myriad of wild flowers that Gerald so loved.

 

courtesy of "The Durrells' Corfu

One can still find the sand lilies at Lake Antiniotissa, also known as Antinioti Lagoon, a small brackish lake on the north-east coast of Corfu, near Agios Spyridon beach and next to Acharavi Beach. It is an important wetland and nature protection area; a favourite picnic spot of Gerald’s and one he referred to in “My Family and Other Animals” as the “Lake of Lilies”.

 

When in Old Corfu Town, visit the “Bosketto Durrell” park, situated between the Palace of St Michael and St George and the medieval Old Fortress, which has busts of both Gerald and Lawrence.

In 1939 the Durrell family left Corfu, the island they had described as “Paradise”, just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. 

 

Main Photo: Oil Painting of 'The White House' by Alexey Moldavsky

 

Adelia Cook for mykerkyra.com

 

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