mercoledì 2 febbraio 2011

Greek Islands: Rhodes

Rhodes is a Greek island approximately 18 kilometres southwest of Turkey.
It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population. Historically, Rhodes was famous worldwide for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The medieval Old Town of the City of Rhodes has been declared a World Heritage Site. The major industry is tourism.
The island of Rhodes is shaped like a spearhead. The city of Rhodes is located at the northern tip of the island, as well as the site of the ancient and modern commercial harbours.In terms of flora and fauna, Rhodes is closer to Asia Minor than to the rest of Greece. The interior of the island is mountainous, sparsely inhabited and covered with forests of pine and cypress. While the shores are rocky, the island has arable strips of land where citrus fruit, wine grapes, vegetables, olives and other crops are grown.The island was populated by ethnic groups from the surrounding nations, including Jews. In 1947, together with the other islands of the Dodecanese, Rhodes was united with Greece.In ancient times, Rhodes was home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World—the Colossus of Rhodes. This giant bronze statue was documented as once standing at the harbour. It was completed in 280 BC but was destroyed in an earthquake in 224 BC. No trace of the statue remains today.The economy is tourist-oriented. The most developed sector is service. Small industries process imported raw materials for local retail. Other industry includes agricultural goods production, stockbreeding, fishery and winery.Many of the outdoor scenes of The Guns of Navarone (starring Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn) and Escape to Athena (starring Roger Moore and Telly Savalas) were filmed on the Island of Rhodes.Historical sites on the island of Rhodes include the Acropolis of Lindos, the Acropolis of Rhodes, the Temple of Apollo, ancient Ialysos, ancient Kamiros, the Governor's Palace, Rhodes Old Town (walled medieval city), the Palace of the Grand Masters, Kahal Shalom Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter, the Archeological Museum, the ruins of the castle of Monolithos, the castle of Kritinia, St. Catherine Hospice and Rhodes Footbridge.

The Ionian Islands: Corfu

Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands.The principal town  of the island is also named Corfu. The island is connected to the history of Greece from the beginning of Greek mythology.  The island's history is laden with battles and conquests. The legacy of these struggles is visible in the form of castles punctuating strategic locations across the island.  In 2007 the city's old town was designated for the UNESCO World Heritage List.  The name Corfu is an Italian corruption of the Byzantine Κορυφώ (Koryphō), meaning "city of the peaks".  Two high and well-defined ranges divide the island into three districts, of which the northern is mountainous, the central undulating, and the southern low-lying. Homer identifies seven plants that adorn the garden of Alcinous: wild olive, oil olive, pear, pomegranate, apple, fig and vine (Grape). Of these the apple and the pear are now very inferior in Corfu; the others thrive, together with all the fruit trees known in southern Europe, with addition of the kumquat, loquat and prickly pear and, in some spots, the banana. When undisturbed by cultivation, the myrtle, arbutus, bay and holm oak form a rich brushwood and the minor flora of the island are extensive.The old town, having grown within fortifications, where every metre of ground was precious, is a labyrinth of narrow streets paved with cobblestones, sometimes tortuous but colourful and clean.
Aside from being a leading centre for the Fine Arts, Corfu is also the home of the Ionian Academy, an institution carrying through and strengthening the tradition of Greek education while the rest of Greece was still fighting Turkish occupation. 
Corfiotes have a long history of hospitality to foreign residents and visitors, typified in the twentieth century by Gerald Durrell's childhood reminiscence My Family and Other Animals. The North East coast has largely been developed by a few British holiday companies, with large expensive holiday villas. Package holiday resorts exist on the north and east coasts.
At the other end of the island, the southern resort of Kavos also provides tourist facilities.
Corfu is mostly planted with olive groves and vineyards and has been producing olive oil and wine since antiquity. Modern times have seen the introduction of specialist cultivation supported by the mild climate, like the kumquat and bergamot oranges, which are extensively used in making spoon sweets and liqueurs. Local culinary specialties include sofrito (a veal rump roast of Venetian origin), pastitsáda (bucatini pasta served with diced veal cooked in a tomato sauce), bourdétto (cod cooked in a peppery sauce), mándoles (caramelized almonds), pastéli (honey bars made with sesame, almonds or pistacchios), mandoláto (a "pastéli" made of crushed almonds, sugar, honey and vanilla), and tzitzibíra, the local ginger beer, a remnant of the British era.

martedì 1 febbraio 2011

Balearic Islands - Ibiza

The Balearic Islands are an archipelago in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.The four largest islands are: Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza, and Formentera. The archipelago forms an autonomous community and a province of Spain, of which the capital city is Palma. The co-official languages in the Balearic Islands are Spanish and Catalan. The main islands of the autonomous community are Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, all of which are popular tourist destinations.  

Majorca is an island located in the Mediterranean Sea, one of the Balearic Islands. It is the largest by area and second most populated island of Spain (after Tenerife in the Canary Islands). The capital of the island, Palma, is also the capital of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. Like the other Balearic Islands of Ibiza, Formentera and Minorca, the island is a highly popular holiday destination, particularly for tourists from Germany, the United Kingdom and to a lesser extent, Ireland.In 1983, Palma became the capital of the autonomous region of the Balearic Islands.Since the 1950s, the advent of mass tourism has transformed the island into a centre of attraction for foreign visitors and attracting workers from mainland Spain. The climate of Majorca is a Mediterranean climate, with mild and stormy winters and hot, bright summers.Summers are hot in the plains and winters mild to cool, getting colder in the Tramuntana range; in this part of the island brief episodes of snow during the winter are not unusual.The members of the Spanish Royal Family spend their summer holidays in Majorca where the Marivent Palace  is located. The Marivent Palace is the royal family's summer residence. Majorca's own language is Catalan. The two official languages of Majorca are Catalan and Spanish. Since the 1950s Majorca has become a major tourist destination, and the tourism business has become the main source of revenue for the island.More than half of the population works in the tourist sector.
Despite Majorca’s location in the Mediterranean, seafood is often imported. Olives and almonds are typical of the Majorcan diet. The island now has over 4 million almond and olive trees. Among the food items that are Majorcan are sobrassada, arros brut (saffron rice cooked with chicken, pork and vegetables), and the sweet pastry ensaïmada.