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Corfu, the real setting of The Durrells

The recently concluded fourth season of the successful British series The Durrell put the Greek island in the spotlight once more, whose historic centre was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 2007.

 

Gerald Durrell and the Eland 1985, Askania Nova, Ukraine. Author Byron Patchett. License: https://bit.ly/1IEXHtK. Wikimedia Commons

Yanet Llanes Alemán

 

The televised programme about the idyllic island life of writer and naturalist Gerald Durrell has made Corfu an even more popular holiday destination and impacted its real estate market in recent years.

Agents told the Financial Times that villa prices increased by up to 20 percent and spoke of a ‘tourist spring’, with record numbers of foreign visitors in the country; more than 33 million compared to 26 million in 2015.

Tourism, the so-called non-smoking industry, is one of the main drivers of Greece’s economy and accounts for eight percent of the Gross Domestic Product of this European nation, which is still emerging from a financial crisis after overcoming its third and last international rescue in August.

Photo: Pixabay

The show is based on the autobiographical Corfu Trilogy by British writer Gerard Durrell, and follows the family’s story – a widow and her four children who start from scratch in an abandoned house on the shores of the Ionian Sea, the programme’s undisputed visual hook. According to the newspaper, buyers are following in the footsteps of the Durrells, such as Anglo-Dutch couple Saskia Bosch and Mark Hendriksen, who were attracted by ‘The taste of village life surrounded by locals’ and decided to restore dilapidated residences to be converted into guest houses.

Another couple built a property in the style of the old mansions in Corfu, the second largest of the Ionian Islands.

In the series, the writer Gerald Durrell’s observations as a precocious naturalist coexist with the descriptions of his family’s life and the cultural shock that came with fleeing interwar England (1935-1939) and taking refuge in the Mediterranean.

Louisa (Keeley Hawes, also protagonist of the series Bodyguard) had to numb her sorrows, pack the suitcases and say goodbye to their homeland to combat the financial difficulties facing her family after the death of her husband.

Photo: Pixabay

She decided to settle in Corfu, with Gerry (the youngest of the clan, an animal fanatic played by Milo Parker), Larry (the eldest, a writer and dreamer, played by Josh O’Connor), Leslie (a charismatic rebel, played by Callum Woodhouse) and Margo, the adolescent who tends to fall in love on a regular basis (Daisy Waterstone).

Released in 2016 on the ITV network, the comedy drama had a great impact in the UK, with four Bafta nominations and over 6.9 million followers.

The old Corfu

The island is related to the history of the country since the beginning of Greek mythology. Located off the coast of Albania and Greece, the old city of Corfu occupies a strategic position at the entrance of the Adriatic Sea.

Photo: Pixabay

It has archaeological vestiges dating from the 8th century BC, as well as three fortifications designed by Venetian engineers.

The engineers for four centuries served to defend the interests of the maritime trade of the Republic of Venice against the Ottoman Empire.

The buildings of the city are mostly neoclassical, with some dating from Venetian rule and others from later times.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), the integrity and authenticity of the old Corfu make it an exceptional example of a fortified port city of universal value. (PL)

(Translated by Lucy Gadhorn)

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