An afternoon on the film set, Corfu Town, September 1979


In the beginning of August 1979 I got off the ferry from Brindisi, Italy to set foot in Corfu for the first time. Unaware I was to stay for seven weeks, camping in an olive grove near the beach of Kontogialos, beneath the hill of Pelekas. The beach life agreed with me so well I literally had to drag myself up the 272 metres high hill once in a while to get on the bus to Corfu Town. To sniff some culture.

According to my travel diary on Thursday September 13th I found the Archeological Museum closed until 4 o’ clock, for the lunch break. I wandered past the Old Fortress – closed as well – and near the Esplanade slipped into the shade to watch a cricket match. Just then a buzz of voices and shrieking car tyres drifted around the corner. Before I knew I walked into a film set and found myself on a narrow sidewalk surrounded by crew, actors, shop owners, residents and tourists like myself.

Annie Girardot
For the next hour and a half we would watch this dusty Renault taxi hit a three-wheel moped loaded with cardboard boxes, then crash through a newspaper stall and cause a pick up truck to send its entire load of watermelons all over the asphalt. Over and over again. With intervals of around fifteen minutes, needed to rehearse the scene and glue all the pre-cut watermelons together again etc. It was during such a break I spotted Annie Girardot.

Philippe Noiret
Or at least I thought I recognised the most popular French actress of the seventies, hiding beneath a white summer hat. Or maybe I just read her name, scribbled on an assistant’s scrapbook, along with Philippe Noiret’s, another favourite actor of mine. Just two years earlier Annie had won her first César for best actress, while Philippe scored that success a year before her. Through all the excitement I don’t really remember what I did and did not see.

IMDb
That is why I am really happy the unsurpassed IMDb (source for movie and TV content) filled me in on all the details about On a volé la cuisse de Jupiter (in English that would be something like They have stolen Jupiter’s buttocks, a rather unusual title. Quite French, I’d say). So I learned the movie was shot in Kalabaka (near the Meteora monasteries), in and around Corfu Town and – much to my surprise – in Pelekas, the village where I had jumped on the bus in the first place. And where I somehow missed all the film set fun during those weeks.

The comedy, directed by Philippe de Broca, was released in February 1980. Soon after that Annie Girardot (1931-2011) sort of withdrew herself from the screen, doing four films only during the eighties before she made a real comeback in the nineties. Her last part she played in 2007. Philippe Noiret (1930-2006) starred in a great number of French and Italian movies until an illness forced him to quit the scene in 2003.

Trailer
I am not sure wether to recommend On a volé la cuisse de Jupiter. IMDb rates it with 6,2 out of 10. For lovers of the scenery: at least the lighthearted comedy was filmed entirely in Greece, and mainly on Corfu. A three minutes trailer can be viewed here. You might still find me standing there on the sidewalk, watching the splashing watermelons.

Casanova: a young adventurer in Corfu

The cover of one of many biographies on Casanova (1725-1798)

In March 1741, not even sixteen years of age, Giacomo Girolamo Casanova sailed from Venice, destination Constantinople. In the harbour of Corfu – Venetian territory of course – he left the ship to explore the town. We know what happens next thanks to his own unfinished Memoires, written in French from 1790 onwards (Histoire de ma vie) and only published long after his death in 1798.

Before we follow his footsteps I have to disappoint the reader who expects a series of erotic Corfiot conquests. It may be true that in the 12 volumes of his autobiography Casanova describes in detail the 122 ladies that he courted in his life and times but a good deal of his writing is also devoted to his adventurous life as priest-student, doctor in law, spy, rambling violinist, chemist, prisoner, gambler, organizer of a French lottery, diplomat, spy for Louis XV and librarian. Driven by an ever eager curiosity he pursued these activities all over Europe.

No-one else but the leading European Prince De Ligne – who was seeing Casanova as often as he could – remarked: “Every word he utters is a revelation and every thought a book.” Modern historians have claimed that if humanity would have lost all the writings from the 18th century except the unfinished memoires of Casanova, his extensive and yet intimate account could well fill us in on the morality and social behaviour in the Europe he explored inside-out.

Escaping arrest
Meanwhile back in Corfu 1741. After getting into a fight with an impostor claiming to be a French prince he avoided arrest by ‘borrowing’ a vessel in Corfu Town’s harbour. Taking it out to open sea he was taken aboard a sailing ship bound for Kassiopi harbour in the northeast of the island. He soon set up an enjoyable life in ‘Kasopo’, as the Venetians called the town. Where he got the money from he doesn’t mention, but he specifically describes the seamstresses he assembles around him to replace the wardrobe he so hastily left in town.

Then an officer arrives on this idyllic scene, meaning to take the young rogue back to the authorities in town. Much to Casanova’s relief the impostor La Valeur appears to have been found out and it is not prison awaiting him, but recognition for exposing the swindler. It doesn’t keep him in town for very long; soon he boards another ship and resumes his trip to Constantinople.

Thrown overboard
The next time Corfu appears in his memoires is in 1745. The now nineteen year old hero of his own tale nearly gets drowned during the sea voyage from Venice to Corfu. He got himself thrown overboard by the crew as a result of upsetting a priest. Arriving safe and sound in Corfu Harbour by the end of March he is well in time for the Easter festivities, which he enjoys from Good Friday 16th of April through to Easter Monday April 19th. On the 1st of July he sails with the ‘Europa’, once more to Constantinople.

Corfu Carnival
Due back home again later in the year he sailed from the Ottoman capital on October 12th and once more stops over in Corfu, well in time for the annual Carnival. “It is a long period, this time,” he writes. And so it was, kicking off at December 26th 1745 and stretching till February 23rd 1746, eight and a half weeks in all. He is very specific about this, since he is acting as impresario for a group of actors. Having negotiated a fee equalling two days of receipts per week he ends up cashing the troupe’s income of seventeen days.

Thinking of the famed masked pleasures of promiscuous Venetian Carnival, who would expect a young and strong, 1 meter 80 tall Casanova to dwell on his earnings? But perhaps this only adds to the credibility of his romantic adventures at other times and in other places.

Warren Curry’s 22nd (!) Corfu Painting Holiday


Very few contemporary artists will have enhanced the reputation of picturesque and dazzling Corfu more than the Australian painter and sculptor Warren Curry. In May 2020, for the 22nd year in a row, he will be treating a group of aspiring artists and non-artists to his Corfu Painting Holiday.

For 15 days he will offer the tour company sketching and painting tutelage, balanced with sight-seeing, swimming, wandering around villages and Corfu Town, and enjoying meals together at the gorgeous Levant Hotel, where tour members stay. 

Second home
After Warren Curry spent three months painting in the village of Liapades in 1981 he returned in 1998 to make Corfu his second home. He bought a house in the old village of Pelekas, where he spends part of the year painting in his studio. Living on Corfu he explored the natural wonders, fascinating villages and the grand, historical architecture of the island. He dug deep into its intriguing history and culture and is more than happy to share his knowledge and understanding with the members of his tour company.

Corfu Discovery Tours has not only attracted keen artists looking to draw on Warren Curry’s expertise and fine tuned, personalised tutelage for guidance, but has regularly included a varying proportion of non-artists just for the magic of the Corfu experience. Greek dancing has become a component of the Tour agenda with the opportunity to perform in a local village dancing festival.

The Tour group enjoys the convenience of its own bus which ferries the artists to their destination each day: villages, beaches, cruising, historic sites, enchanting tavernas, an evening in Corfu Town. Optional extras for participants are a one day cruise to Paxos and Antipaxos and a one day tour to Albania.

Major art awards
Warren has held thirty eight Solo Exhibitions in Australia and won over thirty major art awards. His work is represented in Australian Government (Art Bank) Regional Collections, Corporate and overseas collections. In Australia, he works from his studio located in the small fishing village of Port Albert in South Gippsland, east of Melbourne.

For more information: http://www.warrencurry.com and www.corfudiscoverytours.com

Locandiera: tranquility in vibrant, historic Corfu Town


The old town of Corfu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007 on the grounds of ‘outstanding universal value’. Visitors and tourists can find hostels, B&B’s and hotels in all classes. My fondest personal memory goes back to a weekend many years ago in the classic Hotel Konstantinoupolis, opening the Venetian blinds in the morning overlooking the square, the old port and the magical blue of the sea.

But here is a tip for a quite different accommodation.

Guest house Locandiera advertizes itself as a ‘mini hotel with personality’. You can find this hidden gem at 8 Ioanni Gennata Street, a quiet side street in the historical centre of Corfu Town, between picturesque Guilford Street with its art shops and Kapodistriou Street, bordered by beautiful Spianada Park & Square, near the Old Fortress.

Locandiera – based in a carefully renovated originally Venetian building – provides six single/double rooms with kitchenette, each with its own individual and artistic identity and style. The ground floor offers a cosy open living room and kitchen area, where you can enjoy your breakfast or drink a coffee. There are regular exhibitions of paintings and photography. 

The accommodation blends traditional architectural elements (a centuries old well!) and modern comfort. Quality products (breakfast is included) and reliable and friendly services (free WiFi, iMac, music, books, games, fax, postage, photocopying, bicycles to ride the town!) add to your tranquility, relaxation and wellbeing.

Andreas Monopolis (who learned the art of hospitality in his father’s Jimmy’s Restaurant in Pelekas) and his business partner went out of their way to design and fabricate unique furniture as well as the interior and exterior of the historical building. They even upgraded the street by painting several neighbouring buildings.

Tripadvisor: ‘Great boutique hotel in fabulous location’ (14 October 2019). 

For more information and bookings: www.locorfu.com E-mail: info@locorfu.com. Phone: +30 26610 39035.  

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