For Corfu, we chose one of Oceania’s tours, which we would not have been able to duplicate on our own. At $199 per person, it was definitely one of the most expensive ones, but it included a tour of Achillion Palace as well as – and this was the really special part – a home-cooked Greek feast at a private villa with commanding, panoramic views. We were not sorry for our selection.
First, the bus took us to Achillion Palace.
The tour guide gave us the background of the palace, once the summer retreat of Elizabeth (nicknamed Sissy), Empress of Austria (1837-1898). According to the guide, Sissy was considered a bit wild in her day. For example, she was the first woman in her circle to wear trousers while horse-back riding. Because of her unconventional ways, the Archduchess Sophie wanted her son, Franz Joseph I, to marry Sissy’s older sister, Helene, who was considered more compliant. (The fact that Sissy and her sister were first cousins to Franz Joseph I, was not a concern.) When arriving to town for the ball, when the engagement would be announced, Sissy was locked in her room until the time of the ball, so she wouldn’t cause any trouble. However, she escaped the room and went fishing. There she ran into Franz Joseph I.
It had been many years since they’d seen each other as children, and though she knew who he was, he didn’t recognize her. He was smitten. It wasn’t until the ball that he realized that it was his beautiful cousin Sissy for whom he’d fallen, and he would dance with no one but her. Much to his mother’s chagrin, he informed her that he would be marrying Sissy, not Helene. In an unrelated event decades later (eight years after building Achillion Palace), Sissy was assassinated by an unstable individual seeking notoriety. The palace was later bought by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.
Villa Rosa is a private villa perched high in the hills, with beautiful gardens and pool, and gorgeous views of the surrounding sea.
But the best part of all was the home cooking of the hospitable lady of the house, which far surpassed any expectations we could have had. We’d been told we could take a dip in the pool if we wished, but we were all too busy eating and drinking! I doubt any of us had ever had better Greek cooking, and it was definitely an experience to remember.