A to Z challenge Day 2 – B for Benitses
We have been visiting Benitses on our yacht Fandancer for several years. It’s a harbour/marina on Corfu, just south of the Corfu town, a few miles from the airport, and there’s always a great view of planes on their last approach to the runway. There are some old houses and narrow streets, but it is mostly made up of tourist hotels and tavernas which tend to attract families and young couples. The beach tends to get very busy in the summer.
There has been a settlement at Benitses 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. There are even the remains of some Roman baths here.
In the early 1970s Benitses achieved notoriety by being one of the most hedonistic and controversial holiday spots in the Med, with all-day drinking, sexual promiscuity and drugs galore, or so my husband tells me. No – he wasn’t there then! But apparently it was very famous for all these things.
A decade earlier, In the 1960s, the first visitors began arriving in Benitses, which was then a sleepy traditional fishing village, a place to get away from it all. Many were wealthy and famous, who saw it as an escape from civilization and the paparazzi of the era. Celebrities of the day used to spend their time on the quiet beaches and in the two or three traditional tavernas.
Benitses was visited by famous actors and singers of the 1960s era, such as Peter Ustinov, Rex Harrison, Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, Paul Mccartney, Ava Gardner, Warren Beatty, Paul Newman, Doris Day, Gregory Peck, and Audrey Hepburn were among others who fell under the spell of the peaceful village. Vivien Leigh planned to buy a home nearby and during the last years of her life she visited her friends here in summer and winter. George Harrison of the Beatles spent several days in Benitses water skiing.
In the following decade, Benitses began to gain a bad reputation as the huge wave of mass tourism began. For over ten years Benitses was the holiday mecca for hordes of young British holidaymakers. There was a time when in a road only two kilometres long there were over 100 bars, night clubs and dozens of shops, Benitses had 10,000 visitors every night, some staying in the village but others coming from all over the island, to party the night away.
The most famous of all the nightclubs was “Spiros on the Beach”, which started as a small seaside restaurant which in very short time became the ultimate legend of Corfu nightlife during the 1970s and early 80s – a small building with an outdoor dancing area leading directly the beach, which most young tourists on the island of Corfu wanted to visit.
Then the problems began which increased every year, and local people objected to the drunkenness, promiscuity and vandalism of some of these young people. By the end of the 1970s/early 80s, Benitses fell out of favour as a holiday resort, and tourists stopped coming.
Nowadays, the famous nightclubs stand deserted. The buildings are still there, some still with their advertising signs, but they are shabby and falling apart. The tourists have gone elsewhere ……….
More info can be found at ….https://atcorfu.com/benitses-the-first-tourists-of-the-60s-and-legendary-spiros-on-the-beach/