Old village-life photos #Moraitika #Corfu



去年1月,她发给我这个美丽的副本calendar which I am thrilled to share today. I meant to do it back then but, sadly, I was in a bad place at the time, caught up in my late mother’s daily cancer fight. When I received the calendar, I took it to her bed to leaf through, and she cried to see the photo on the first sheet, which depicted her grandparents, Stefanos and Olga Vassilakis. She kissed their faces on the photograph whispering, ‘i nouna mou, o nounos mou…’ (the Corfiot words for ‘my granny, my granddad). The memory still causes my heart to twinge with feeling. My mother passed away on February 12, and I am comforted to think she is in her grandparents’ and her parents’ arms right now.

Without further ado, here is the calendar, sheet by sheet. I hope you will enjoy it.

January-February. Caption: The first priest of Moraitika and his wife (Stefanos and Olga Vassilakis).

My great-grandfather was also a teacher of Moraitika. The house he built for his family still stands on the hill near the church. Part of it was used as the village school at some point. He is buried in the church yard. For more photos and information, see my post about thetwo churches of Moraitikaon the hill.


Or how the locals pronounce it, ‘Katou Vrysi.’ Loosely translated, it means, ‘The tap downhill’. It is situated on the side of the main road outside the dilapidated estate behind the Coop supermarket. There is also an ‘uphill tap’ called ‘Panou Vrysi’ which is at the edge of the village on the hill under a big plane tree. This is why the locals also call it ‘O Platanos’ (The plane tree). For detailed directions to Panou Vrysi, seebet way官网


The building on the left is the Papadatos estate house. This family also owns the little church of Agios Dimitris nearby (my great-grandfather is buried outside the main door of this church). The building on the right is the Koukouzelis estate house. Today, the grounds are used by the council for cultural events (concerts mainly). For more info and photos, see the同一篇关于教会

July-August. Caption: Moraitika wedding of Kostas and Eleni Vlachos.

My uncle Kostas passed away a couple of years ago, but Aunt Leni remains active at her old age (born 1933), and still helps out at her seaside apartments of ‘Nea Zoi’ (beside Caldera on the beach).bet way官网对于这些机构。在这里,下面,之前excellent commentary about this photo by my Aunt Leni as relayed by her daughter-in-law, Spyridoula Vlachos:


Re my Aunt Marika (daughter of Great-Uncle Stamatis Vassilakis): She was one of my favourite relatives of the Vassilakis family. She had the heart and the soul of a child. I still recall so vividly the last time I saw her, visiting her in her house after a long while during my short stay in the village. It was a couple of years earlier, just months before she died. She was confused with dementia and didn’t recognize me when I approached her. Still, her good heart must have done, because she kept holding me, her eyes sparkling with love and delight while saying, ‘I love you! I love you!’ I’ll never forget her face that day; so innocent, so loving. Somehow, she is the only one whose name I didn’t have the heart to change in my largely autobiographical novel set in Moraitika, The Ebb.

Back to the wedding photo: Great-Uncle Lilis, a teacher, stands behind Aunt Marika. Behind Aunt Leni, the bride, on the right, is the groom, Uncle Kostas. To his right, stand Aunt Olga, and Great-Uncle Kotsos with Great-Aunt Rini Tsatsanis from Messonghi. The girl with the frizzy hair beside them is Maria, Lefteris Kosmas’s sister (he runs Leftis Romantica). My mother, Ioanna, is pictured further right as a little girl with her hands on her waist.



图为从左至右:后排:叔公安东尼斯·瓦西拉基斯,阿姨奥尔加(Lilis的女儿),姑奶奶Irini酒店,大妈迪娜(或贝巴,Lilis的女儿),克里斯托Vlachos,Tsantis Vlachos。中排:Kotsoris叔公(Kotsos)Tsatsanis,曾祖母奥尔加Vlachos,安吉丽娜Vlachos,叔公Lilis瓦西拉基斯和他的妻子,姑奶奶Fotoula。前排:叔公斯塔马蒂斯瓦西拉基斯。在他们身后,孩子佩特罗斯和索非亚Vlachos。佩特罗斯用于运行海滩(现在火山口,由他的儿子克里斯托运行)上的螃蟹餐厅。在我的曾祖母的右侧,你可以看到叶夫根瓦西拉基斯(斯塔马蒂斯的妻子)和她的孙子,Vasso和Stefanos的Moraitis(两者玛丽卡的孩子)。

November-December. Caption: Washing in the ‘mastello (old Venetian word for ‘wooden tub’).


The rest of the caption reads: ‘Open-air barber shop (Pippis, Kapouas, Tatsos, Lopi, Sofia).

对于在科孚岛的瓦西拉基斯家庭更多的照片和信息,我的老夏天,betway必威官网登陆官方网see this post。To follow my blog and be notified of my new posts,betway 桌球

This is it for now, everyone. I wish you a wonderful summer, and hope you’ll get to make lots of new and exciting memories – be it in Corfu, or your own corner of heaven


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The old church of Moraitika, Corfu and some village history


This old church — Agios Dimitris — was still in operation back then, and it was the only one in the village at the time. It was erected by the Papadatos family, whose (now derelict) estate house is situated behind it.

One of its early priests was my great-grandfather, Stefanos Vassilakis. He and his wife Olga built a house for their big family a stone’s throw away from the church. Part of their house was used as the school of the village. Other than his two main professions, my busy great-grandfather also worked his own land (situated in two different parts around Moraitika: behind the Coop supermarket, and on the side of the mountain over Miramare Hotel).

Many of the elderly locals still remember him working his land. Apparently, he did this wearing his priest’s robe!


这是我的曾祖母奥尔加瓦西拉基斯(NEE Vlachos)的照片,与其他家庭成员。作为当时的一个寡妇,她穿着黑色与传统的头巾。她在上世纪50年代的房子门口被描写与她的儿子媳妇(左)和她的两个孩子。当地人称呼她为“Presvytera”或“Pappadia” - 这两个名字的意思是“牧师的妻子”,后者是所有权不那么正式。

This photo was taken in the 1970s on the same doorstep. Sadly, I never met either of my great-grandparents, but it’s a consolation to know I have lived all my life treading their footsteps. In this photo, I am photographed with my sister and a few members of the Vassilakis family.





Visitors to the hill in Moraitika today may recognize the Koukouzelis Estate House in this photo. The whole property was acquired by the council in the recent years to be used for cultural events. It is situated very near the church.



The derelict stone wall with the window is part of the estate. According to one of my cousins who ventured inside once as a child, there was a large library behind this wall. Now, with the overgrowth of bushes and creeping vines that have accumulated over the years it is impossible to decipher anything when peeking through the window.

This is the same lane looking towards the old church (yellow wall). You can also see the belfry of the current church of Moraitika that stands beyond it. This one was under construction for at least one year back in the 1980s, something that used to worry my grandmother a great deal… You see, she was convinced that it attracted all sorts of evil spirits while it stood as a building site.


The church of Moraitika is called “I Koimisi tis Theotokou” (The Dormition of Mary)


这是我的爷爷奶奶,斯皮罗斯和Antigoni酒店瓦西拉基斯的照片。爷爷是正确的“papadopaidi”,一个牧师的即儿子,这意味着他是一个狂热的礼拜的和喜爱,在给予一半的机会,教会呗。在我的童年雅典我还记得他呗星期天早上,他听取了群众对他的便携式小收音机。My grandparents lived in the city at the time but once they relocated to Moraitika in the late 1970s, Granddad became a regular visitor and an occasional ‘psaltis’ (church singer that chants the gospel) at the old church of the village and, later, at the new one as well.

The private church of Agios Dimitris opens only once a year these days – on its festival day on October 26.

This is the belfry of the old church. The year of its erection is 1905 according to the plaque you can see here. I find it a real pity that it was left to deteriorate in this manner – same goes for the old estate houses (Koukouzelis and Papadatos) beside it that barely stand. At least, the facade of the old church is kept tidy and freshly painted, and the tourists seem to be interested in my great-grandfather’s grave a lot…


If you ever visit Moraitika, make sure to venture uphill to see the church yard and do take a walk towards the Koukouzelis Estate as well, if only to enjoy the sea view. The sunrise is always a good time!

If you ever visit Moraitika, make sure to venture uphill to see the church yard and do take a walk towards the Koukouzelis Estate as well, if only to enjoy the sea view. The sunrise is always a good time!

Many thanks to my cousins Evgenia Vassilakis and Sofia Tsatsanis who provided the old family photos!


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Spyros and Antigoni Vassilakis


Last summer, having inherited my grandparents’ house in Moraitika, it was hard opening the door and finding an empty house inside for the first time. What’s more, I was burdened with the gruesome task of having to go through my grandparents’ belongings, deciding what was to keep, what to throw, and what to give to charity. The task took days, and it was a surreal experience. Being interspersed with short bursts of summer holiday fun, it felt odd to do this too but, somehow, my mission was accomplished. At the end of my holiday I had given loads of clothes and medical equipment no longer needed to a couple locals who were grateful to have them, my husband and I had scrubbed dirty and moulded walls and ceilings clean, the house was tidy and aired after having being left uninhabited for a long time, and our minds were enriched with beautiful new holiday memories.

I share with you today a couple photos I took while sorting through my grandparents’ personal belongings. I found these in their aged bedside cabinets.

I quickly recognized all the items in the above photograph from old memories and was deeply moved to see Gran Antigoni had kept a couple of the handkerchiefs I used when I was little. The moment I saw them I remembered them as mine. Those among you who have holidayed in Corfu in the 70s and 80s may recognize the item in the middle as a pill box. They were all the rage in the 80s, being sold in many shapes and with various depictions on them in the souvenir shops at the time.

As for granddad’s things, the only item I didn’t recognize was the binoculars. They are dented, as you can see, and you couldn’t see much through the lenses, but he must have been fond of them as he kept them all the same. I can only imagine how many years he must have had them! As for the torch, granddad had a few, and this one is the oldest I remember and probably his favourite! It’s the one he used during our annual ‘pizza nights’ at the beach when the August moon was out – a memory that made its way into The Ebb, the novel I wrote to share my love for my grandparents with the world. Speaking of The Ebb, Sofia’s dented fork is also real… and I have proof. Scroll down below to see a photo of it

Granddad Spyros, born in Moraitika in 1913, was one of the children of Stefanos Vassilakis, the priest and teacher of Moraitika in the early 1900s. Granddad never had an education beyond elementary school but his impeccable manners towards family and friends as well as his loving, giving heart were prominent parts of his character. During the forty odd years that I was blessed to have him in my life he’d always been upbeat, sweet and loving and I never witnessed him lose his temper or fight with anyone, not even when he had every right to. And believe me, in my typically dysfunctional Greek family he had many opportunities to act that way.


Granddad loved a good joke. Once, when he was well into his 90s, we were sitting around the table and he was laughing his head off with his own morbid joke. He had recently paid the council for a family grave and had had it decorated with the marble top and cross, and even his own picture, ready for the big day! Apparently, a local had passed by and seen the grave and told another: ‘Crikey! When did Spyros Vassilakis die? I never heard!” Someone had told Granddad and he relayed it around the table, laughing heartily at the ridiculous notion someone had thought him dead, even though he had set the scene perfectly for anyone to be fooled! And that was Granddad. He had this wicked sense of humour that often annoyed Gran and led to those ‘fights’ at the table that always caused me and my sister to exchange glances and chuckle no end.



Outside the house in Moraitika – early 2000s

When Granddad passed away in 2010, I asked Gran if she had one of his combs to give me. She gave one to me and one to my sister and we both treasure them. Often, when the going gets tough in my life, I take it in my hands and tell Granddad my troubles. It always helps me to soothe any kind of heartache or mental strain – the comb having been established as the ultimate symbol of his love in my heart and mind.

我被深深打动了,很幸运找到酒店e old documents in an envelope in my granny’s bedside cabinet last summer. Time had rendered them gossamer thin but the writing is still legible in most places and it’s been preserved quite well despite the dozens of humid winters. These documents were my granddad’s call to military duty twice: the first in 1935 and the other in 1945.


The document of 1945 called my granddad to duty in Acharnes, Athens in September 30th, 1945. He was 32 at the time. The document listed the same kind of rules overleaf, although with less severity compared to the other document. It was also stamped in Patra in October 1945 and there’s writing beside it but sadly it’s impossible to make out what it says.

What I do know about granddad’s service during the war was that he fought in Albania and when released from duty he returned to Corfu on foot. I also know that in Corfu he was stationed in two places: the (Venetian) Old Fortress in Corfu Town and in the Palace of Mon Repos in Kanoni. In the latter, he served as a cook and rubbed shoulders with Greek and English officers.

Gran is pictured with one of her brothers and her father in Corfu town

格兰Antigoni出生于Lefkas (Lefkada)在1924年。Her father, Nikolaos Kopsidas from the village of Karya, Lefkas, owned two inns in the island capital but a devastating earthquake that destroyed many buildings in town, including his two businesses, forced him to leave the island and seek a new life for himself and his family in Corfu. Granny was about four when she moved to Corfu. Brought up in the ancient quarter of Campielo of Corfu town, she spoke melodically, her vocabulary rich with unfathomable Italian-sounding words dating from the island’s occupation by the Venetians. When she was nineteen, one of her brothers made friends with my granddad who was thirty years old at the time. Granddad would often say that when he first led eyes on my demure grandmother she was wearing a long pleated skirt and the sight made him loose his mind (‘tin itha ke vourlistika’, were the exact words!). The rest is history, as they say.

From left to right, Ioanna, Gran, and Stephania

Granny lived and breathed for her daughters, Ioanna (my mother) and Stephania, who were also brought up in Campielo.

When I came to be, it was a story of love both ways. Granny and I soon developed a very strong bond. When I was little I’d often stay in her rented house (in Athens back then) and I was so attached to her I called her ‘mama’ (mum) and refused to fall asleep unless she held my hand. Gran would often laugh and say I gave her a hard time back then, seeing that as soon as she moved her hand away from my grasp I’d snap my eyes open, which meant she had to give me her hand and wait for me to fall asleep all over again.


In The Ebb I share many of the terms of endearment Granny used to address me. There is an entertaining one I didn’t share, which tickled my husband’s funny bone so much he uses it for me now. The term is ‘kontessa’ (countess), my granny’s way of teasing me whenever, as all kids occasionally do, I acted lazy or self-indulgent. Every time Andy calls me that now if, say, I snooze a little longer in bed, there is a tug in my heart, but the feeling is wonderful, knowing the term of endearment survived, somehow.


My grandparents’ children, Ioanna (my mother) and Stephania

When Gran and Granddad started their life together in the 40s, times were hard. If they needed to visit Moraitika from Corfu town, they often walked the whole way. That’s a 45 minute ride in the bus today! As a young married couple they lived in Campielo as I said before where, to make ends meet, Granddad used to do deliveries for a refreshment company. He made the deliveries all over town riding a horse carriage. During the summer, he worked a lot more hours to meet the higher demand, often on all days of the week. He’d leave home at first light and return after dark when the kids were in bed. As a result, his little daughter, Stephania, called him ‘o babas o chimoniatikos’ (winter dad) as this was the only part of the year where she got to see him.


Back in Moraitika is where sheer bliss began to pour into my life. Roughly from the age of 12, I began to stay with my grandparents nearly every summer from early June to early September. I played and swam daily with a multitude of cousins and village children and as neighbours I had a host of great-uncles and great-aunts who’d each inherited a part of my great-grandfather’s big house. Every morning would find me and the other children playing with a ball or cards under the mulberry tree or on the cemented step that can still be found today outside the house.

The mulberry tree in front of the house always causes myriad fond memories to come to surface. This lane that leads to the village church has been my playground for many happy summers.


大多数时候,我们会沿着孚 - Lefkimmi的高速公路行走,并在Messbetway必威官网登陆官方网onghi的停止过去的近关闭贴水Mattheos在加油站是今天的小桥梁。在它旁边的角落里,有我的叔叔Thanassis Tsatsanis从Messonghi的拥有一间咖啡厅。这是我们的茶点或我们的长期走回家在莫拉伊蒂卡前山甜蜜的休息场所。



Speaking of proof, here is a picture of the dented aluminum fork described in The Ebb. Every summer, on my first day in the house, Gran would take it out of her ancient cabinet drawer and set it in front of me at the table with a glint in her eye as Granddad chuckled. You can imagine what it means to me now they are gone. I took this photo last summer, and it was quite emotional when I set it down on the table to eat with my husband, without either of my grandparents present for the very first time. But of course, their love remains inside me, safe, where neither time nor death can ever take it away.

Below, I share a couple videos from happy days with my grandparents. These were taken in the summer of 2004.

The two first videos feature my conversations with my grandparents as I take the video and Andy and Granddad watch Gran BBQ fish for our lunch. During that time we elaborated a lot on the fact Granddad was difficult to cook for because there were many foods he didn’t like much (fish and meat included). I then tried to convince him to have some fish but he seemed intent on only having the boiled greens and skordalia (garlic dip) that were to be served with it. By the time Gran serves at the table, she and I have managed to annoy him somewhat to a hilarious effect right at the end of video 3.

“圣polla de lete ?”(你不觉得你talking too much?) quips Granddad in his typical mock-stern tone. It made my grandmother and I laugh many times as we watched this video together after his passing. Grandma would laugh while her fingertips caressed his face on my tablet’s screen, the words ‘Spyro mou…’ issued wistfully and repeatedly from her lips.

I hope you’ll find the videos entertaining, even those among you who don’t understand much Greek, if only for the mannerisms and the real-life depiction of a typical ‘row’ between my grandparents at meal times as described in The Ebb.

I truly believe that Granny and Granddad were sister souls. They were married together for 67 years and remained in love till the last day when Granddad died peacefully in his bed in Granny’s arms. Granny often relayed how he opened his eyes and gave her one last, intense look, before he closed them again, this time, forever. Granny said it felt like he was aiming to take her image along with him.

Last year, my grandmother’s parting words to me were said over the phone and during a rare moment of lucid thinking as osteomyelitis had long begun to cloud her mind since her fatal fall. Even though she kept silent or mumbled to herself whenever I phoned the old people’s home in Limnos where she spent her very last days, during that call I was lucky to make out these words: ‘Na eisai kala kyra mou, na eisai panta kala’ (may you be well ‘my lady’, may you always be well). I knew that day this was goodbye. And I was right; she died just a couple days later. I do hope in her heart she knew I was there when that happened, if only in spirit.

Goodbye Grandma. Goodbye Granddad. Until we meet again.


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