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.