At the end of 2018, Corfu won the EUFCN Location Awards competition, being recognized as the Best European Film Location. This award was in recognition of its key role in the filming of the successful British TV series ''The Durrells'' (2016-2019) – bringing our delightful Greek island to everyone’s attention! The tremendously popular series undoubtedly sparked an increased interest in Corfu, with many fans flocking to the island every year, in the hope of discovering the Durrells favorite spots, and recreating the magic of the series. But who were the real Durrells family and how did they end up living in Corfu? What are the most popular filming locations of the series and where did the family actually live on the island back in the 1930s? Let's take a journey into the fascinating world of the Durrells family!
Who were the Durrells in real life?
Durrells is probably the most popular family associated with Corfu! This hugely successful TV series is an adaptation of Gerald Durrell's trilogy of autobiographical books about the four years when he lived in Corfu with his family in the 1930s. In real life, the Durrells were an English family living in India, consisting of Louisa Florence Durrell, her husband Lawrence and their four children Lawrence, Leslie, Margot and Gerald. After the unexpected death of the Father in 1928, the widowed mother and her three children moved to Bournemouth, England to join Lawrence, the oldest son, who was already attending a boarding school there. In 1935, the Durrells family decided to relocate from Bournemouth to the sun-soaked island of Corfu, following Lawerence who had already moved to the island together with his wife, Nancy earlier on that year.
The family found a ''little paradise on the island'', as Gerald Durrell quotes in his books: ''Gradually the magic of the island [Corfu] settled over us as gently and clingingly as pollen.'' The Durrells really enjoyed living in Corfu's more relaxed lifestyle, being surrounded by the island's wonderful nature, while also receiving a warm hospitality from the locals, with many of whom they developed very close friendships! Now, we bet that you might be wondering ''Was there a real Spiro in the Durrells lives?'' And the answer is yes! Spiros Halikiopoulos, one of the first people that the family met on the island, soon became one of their closest friends, who helped them settle well in to their new home. Another close friend of the family was Theodor Stefanides, the local doctor, writer, poet and naturalist, who also became a great mentor for Gerald Durrells, igniting his enthusiasm about nature and wildlife. It was in Corfu that Gerald Durrell, the well known British botanist, naturalist and writer, developed his love about the natural world and started gathering a collection of wild life and endangered animals to create '' a little zoo'' at home. Life in Corfu influenced Gerald so much and was his inspiration for writing his best sellers ''My Family and Other Animals'', the ''Birds, Animals and Relatives'' and the ''The Garden of the Gods''. Lawrence’s Durell ''Prospero’s Cell'' was also inspired by the family's life in Corfu.
The Durrells stayed in Corfu for 4 years until 1939 when the beginning of World War II forced mother Louisa, together with Gerald, Leslie and the family’s maid, to leave the island and move back to the UK. However, Margo decided to stay on the island for some more time sharing a small home with some local friends. Later, she fell in love with a Royal Air Force pilot named Jack Breeze, with whom they moved to South Africa in 1940. Lawrence and his wife also stayed in Corfu before being forced to escape to Egypt together with their newborn daughter in 1941 because of the war. Although the Durrells Family left the island and never went back to live there again, Corfu always held a special place in their heart and some of the members of the family kept visiting the island in the following years.
The Durrells in Corfu filming locations
After four successful seasons, fans reluctantly said farewell to the cast of the Durrells in 2019, and ever since Durrells enthusiasts have been visiting Corfu seeking out to discover as many as Durrells filming locations as possible. But where was the Durrells filmed? The filming of ''The Durrells'' or ''The Durrells in Corfu'', as the popular ITV series is known in the United States took place in a variety of idyllic locations around the island, including well-known areas but also off-the beaten track locations. Corfu Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful parts of the island, served as one of the main film locations. Do you remember the scene where Louisa Durrell visits the Bank to check if their money has arrived from England? This scene was filmed in the entrance of the Museum of Asian Art, exclusively dedicated to the art and antiquities of the Far East and India and the only one of its kind in Greece. The Museum of Asian Art is housed in the Palace of Saint Michael and Saint George, one of the largest and most significant buildings of the British rule period in Corfu. Also, the taverna where Captain Creech meets Larry for the first time is the Contra Fossa, the artificial moat underneath the Old Fortress of Corfu Town. Corfu Town is widely considered one of the most beautiful towns of Greece, boasting fascinating architecture and an impressive multicultural heritage from the Venetians, British and French who all occupied the island at different periods. Take time to wander around the scenic, cobblestone streets of Corfu Town and discover beautiful mansions, interesting museums, quaint shops and cafés and of course more filming spots.
In the suburbs of Corfu Town, the exterior of the Mon Repos Palace doubles as the home of Countess Mavrodaki in the series. The Palace is also surrounded by extensive gardens, where you will also find a beautiful bay and a wooden Venetian pier, which was a favorite swimming spot of the Durrells in the series! The Mon Repos Palace was originally built for the British Commissioner Frederik Adams and was used as a summer residence of the Greek royal family for many years. It is also the birthplace of Prince Philip, husband of Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Mon Repos is now operating as a museum, hosting among others significant ancient ruins that have been excavated by archaeologists in this area.
A big part of the outdoor scenes of ''The Durrells'' was shot in Danilia Village, or "the Bouas Village" , near Kontokali, in the northeast of the island. This is a replica of a traditional 1930s Corfiot village that was created by the Corfiot Bouas family in the 1970s. Some of the scenes that were filmed here include the vibrant market where Louisa attempts to sell her English food to the locals, the café where Larry sits when he leaves the family home, and the police station. An interesting, perhaps little-known fact, is that this village was also featured in the James Bond movie ‘’For Your Eyes Only’’ that was also filmed in Corfu in 1981. Danilia village is home to two open air village squares, a beautiful church, a traditional café, and taverns. Since 2002 the village has been under the hands of Grecotel group, one of the biggest hoteliers groups in Greece and it is only accessible to guests staying in one of the three Corfu Grecotel hotels.
An important part of every episode is of course the Durrells home - an old home with green shutters and wonderful views out to the sea. We bet that you will now be wondering ''where is the house in the Durrells series located? '' The TV stand-in, for the Durrells home ''Daffodil Yellow Villa'' or ''Anemoyani Villa'' in real life, ' is located in Kontokali, a village on the north east of the island, approximately 7 km from Corfu Town. The home is privately owned and can therefore not be visited. This building was used only for the exterior scenes while the interior scenes were shot in studios in the UK.
Of course, there are hundreds of other filming locations, dotted around Corfu’s beautiful, lush countryside. Sven's farm house is located in Poulades, while the area where Margot was sunbathing, shocking a greek priest is Agni Bay. Apart from the filming locations, the unique natural beauty and relaxed charm of the island which inspired Gerald and Lawrence and the whole family – still exists today and can be experienced by everyone who visits Corfu!
Where did the Durrells live in Corfu in real life? Can you visit the Durrells house in Corfu?
When the Durrells first moved to Corfu, they first stayed in Villa Agazini, dubbed as ''Strawberry Pink Villa'' in Gerald Durrell's Books. The Strawberry Pink Villa, which is set on the road above Perama, just 7 km south from Corfu Town, has been renovated and can now be rented as a holiday home. The second villa where the Durrells resided on the island, was Villa Annemoyani or the ''Daffodil Yellow Villa'' as Gerald named it, located in the village of Gouvia, approximately 10 km northeast of Corfu Town. When in 1936, Lawrence and his first wife Nancy decided to leave the ‘’Daffodil Yellow Villa’’ , they moved to the ''The White House'', a small fisherman cottage set in the peaceful, seaside village of Kalami, approximately 30 km north from Corfu Town. The White House has been renovated and it is now operating as a summer holiday home and restaurant. The last home of the Durrells family in Corfu was the ''Snow White Villa'' in the area of Cressida near Lake Halikiopoulou. The White House is the only one of the real Durrells' homes that is now open to the public – their other homes in real life are privately owned and therefore cannot be visitied,
If you want to get a glimpse of the real life of the Durrells in Corfu and discover some of the filming locations, check out our Private Tour ''In the Footsteps of Durrells in Corfu'' which can also be offered as a shore excursion.