5th to 9th May 2020:
Contemporary Gardens of the Ionian Sea;
Hosted by COUNTRY LIFE contributor Charles Quest-Ritson and led by Kirsty Fergusson
Since antiquity, from Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ across the centuries to the Durrell family’s stay of the island in the early 20th century, writers, poets, artists gardeners, travellers, statesmen and royalty have all been bewitched by the magical beauty of Corfu with its lush vegetation, wildflowers and silver olive groves punctuated by cypresses with stunning views of the Ionian Sea. Corfu is indeed one of the most garden-friendly of all Greek islands, sometimes known as ‘The Garden Isle’ as the greenest of Aegean islands with a higher annual rainfall than London. Due to Corfu’s vivid past, British, French, Venetian and Greek influences in architecture, agriculture and gardening are clear to see. This tour is focused on the work of a new wave of contemporary garden designers sensitive to Mediterranean style using many native plants as well as those adapted to tolerate the hotter dry summers. We will see English born, Jennifer Gay’s work at Rou and Kassiopia as well as a chance to visit the Rothschild Estate where a host of designers have taken a part in creating a magical haven. We have chosen the five-star Hotel Domes Miramare, a former Onassis villa stretching alongside the private beach where family, jet setters, politicians and billionaires were entertained in lavish style, sunbathing under the Corfiot sun. The tradition continues and all reserved rooms are deeply comfortable with views of the Ionian Sea.
Day 1: Tuesday 5th May
Depart London Heathrow Terminal 5 on British Airways flight BA0654, at 10:15 arriving 15:30 at Ioannis Kapodistrais (CFU), Corfu Airport. We then travel together by coach the short journey from the airport down the coast to Hotel Domes Miramare, with a warm welcome and with time to settle before dining together in the hotel restaurant.
Day 2: Wednesday 6th May
Rachel Weaving’s book ‘The Gardens of Corfu’, has done much to promote the magic of Corfiot gardens. We are invited by Rachel to view her own small terraced garden at Villa Zetouna with views across the infinity pool to the arid mountains of Albania. Close by we discover Lemon Tree House with abundant cottage style planting on the lower slopes of Mount Pantokrator, the highest mountain on the island. Rou was a deserted village before it was discovered by architect Dom Skinner who with the help of Jennifer Gay has transformed it into an exquisite garden with holiday-homes entwined. Following a delicious lunch, we travel to see more of Jennifer’s work at the Kassiopia Estate overlooking the Corfu Straits. Here, two contrasting gardens have been created: one wild and open to the elements; the other south facing and sheltered; both utilising a strong palette of native species, reflecting a deep understanding of the Mediterranean flora. We return to Hotel Domes Miramare before dining together in the hotel restaurant.
Day 3: Thursday 7th May
Start the day with a leisurely walking tour of Corfu Town (Kerkyra) to include the Old Fortress, the Durrell’s Garden, St Spyridon Church and a chance to taste some local specialities. We then drive to the Ropa Valley to the Theotoky Estate Vineyard, one of the oldest wineries on the island where we are invited to participate in a tasting of their best wines along with a light lunch. In the afternoon visit to a private garden designed by Thomas Doxiadis and a typical eighteenth-century Corfu manor, former home of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first elected Governor of Greece. We then return to Hotel Domes Miramare before dining together in the hotel restaurant.
Day 4: Friday 8th May
A special invitation to The Rothschild Estate comprised of the two beautiful peninsulas of Strongilo & Kanonas. Nurtured by three generations of the family, it skilfully embraces the wild landscape with more intense planting in courtyards, potager and around the beautiful pools. The infinity pool in a former quarry was designed by Spanish architect, Xavier Barba and is edged with tightly clipped rosemary. We are then invited to a Corfiot summer lunch at the St George’s Bay Country Club overlooking the Ionian Sea before returning to the hotel and later dining together.
Day 5: Saturday 9th May
After a leisurely breakfast, we return to Corfu Airport to check in for the 12:55 departure on BA0649, arriving at London Heathrow Terminal 5 at 14:15.
How much & what’s included:
Price per person: £3480
(Single supplement of £400 levied by the hotels)
The price includes four nights at the Hotel Domes Miramare with all breakfasts plus evening meals with local wines included, and three lunches as stated in the itinerary. The price does not include extras at the hotels or travel insurance. The tour starts at London Heathrow Tuesday 5th May: airline recommended check-in at 08:15 for the 10:15 departure of British Airways flight BA0654. Please contact the Boxwood office if you wish to obtain a quotation to upgrade to Club Class. Those wishing to make their own travel arrangements should state this on the booking form and deduct £234 per person from the tour price. Please note that Boxwood Tours use hotels of character featuring a variety of rooms & styles.
This tour is financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate