Nowadays, Benitses is a small tourist resort, south of Corfu town.
There are lots of hotels here, and the beaches are full of sunloungers and umbrellas. However, if you want to get away from it all, there are some things to see that are often overlooked by the average tourist.
Firstly, there are the remains of some Roman baths here.
There are few signposts, and it appears that you have to walk into someone’s back garden to get there, but the path soon opens up and you will see the ruins ahead of you. Benitses has been a settlement for hundreds of years. This is partly due to the water source in the hills, where apparently over 80% of the natural water on Corfu can be found.
One of the attractions of Benitses are the lovely walks behind the town, into the hills. You can walk past olive groves, tiny cottages with cared-for allotments growing all manner of fruit and vegetables. Here, you can find the natural water Spring, but don’t expect anything like the Trevi fountain, it’s more of a tiny stream.
The signs are difficult to follow, and there are many dead ends. Some of the roads are really steep, I felt like a mountaineer and could have done with some of those old women’s long walking poles. I’m glad I wore my sturdy ‘Earth Spirit’ walking sandals. Near the end of the walk, you have to climb some ancient stone steps into the woods, and follow a steep stony track for some distance. You can hear the sound of water running, and the woodland is very lush and green. We saw loads of butterflies everywhere, and also many small, brightly coloured dragonflies.
At the summit of our climb, we saw a small stone tunnel going through the rocks over the stream. Just beyond this, there were more overgrown steps, then unexpectedly, we came to a white painted Greek church! It was obviously a functioning church, and on saints’ days, of which there are many in Greece, I’m sure there would be worshippers who had made the long trek from the town below.
On our way back, instead of returning down the steep steps and rough path, round the back of the church we found more of an unmade road, wide enough for a vehicle. And we guessed this was probably how the old Greek women reached the church. They do seem to build churches in very inaccessible places. I read somewhere that the higher up the hills they are, the nearer you are to God. And if it requires some effort and difficulty to get there, then God will think you are a true worshipper. Well, I certainly felt like I should be made a Saint after my mountainous trek through the woods……