San Stefano was built in 1782, by a member of the great Venetian Giustiniani family.
It passed by marriage into the Flamburiari family, and more recently was given as a dowry when Lily Flamburiari (the current owners’ grandmother) married Petros Manessis. It has a unique place in Corfu’s history as the visitors’ books show. Elizabeth of Austria and Kaiser Wilhelm 2nd both visited, and a photo on the landing is a gift from Queen Alexandra. More recently Vivien Leigh, Gerald Durrell and notables in many fields have enjoyed a drink on the balcony whilst watching the sunset.
I loved San Stefano, the house and its heritage … and the spectacular view from the balcony. Sitting with a glass of wine before supper and looking out over the sea, with views to the Greek mainland and our own private church just below us was very special.
The dining room displays a fascinating dinner set which was given to the family by the British High Commissioner Sir Frederick Adam who stayed in the house while supervising the construction of the waterworks which finally supplied Corfu Town with mains water (around 1850).
The furniture shows the family links with Venice, England and India (where Lily Flamburiari was born in 1896), as well as with Greece. The present generation have a cosmopolitan inheritance on both sides, as the Manessis’ produced a notable Victorian philosopher-diplomat Sir Peter Vraila-Armeni, who gave Elizabeth of Austria his villa at Gastouri which enabled her to build the Achilleon Palace. He was a highly respected Greek ambassador in St Petersburg and at the Court of St James – indeed when he died Queen Victoria was so upset that she instructed one of her warships to bring his body home to Greece.
It is set in five acres of land – citrus trees, olive groves, and gardens so there is total privacy, and they can be enjoyed by everyone staying at the house. The views are spectacular, looking across the Corfu Channel to mainland Greece. In front of the house is the private chapel of St Stephen, and to the side are the old farm buildings, with an interesting history of their own, as over the centuries they have been rented to monks, nuns (the aunt of Tsar Nicholas 2nd brought her nuns there and donated a fine icon to the church), and during the first world war they housed the British staff of a field hospital.
Our nearest village is Benitses, a fishing village which has acquired a reputation for the quality of its restaurants. A marina has been built alongside the old harbour, and a walk there from the house (about 20 minutes), will take you there through a maze of narrow streets, all whitewashed, their gardens bright with geraniums. The village has a bakery, supermarkets and a pharmacy. There is also an English speaking doctor on call 24 hours a day.
“A beautiful house with stunning views of the Ionian Sea, if you want a taste of Greek history stay here!”
We are 25 minutes drive from Corfu airport- direct flights from all major European cities in summer, and there are also year round domestic flights from Athens or Thessalonika (flight time 45 minutes). For those coming by boat we are 30 minutes away from the port (local ferries to the Greek mainland regularly and international ferries from Italy in summer). We can arrange taxis or a hire car to meet you on arrival, although we also like to be there ourselves to welcome you.
On the outskirts of Corfu Town are many large supermarkets, with health food, organic, and international sections, and in the centre of town is a daily produce market where you can buy direct from the farmers.
Corfu Town is a magnet for visitors, it is like Venice without the canals, and is especially enchanting in the evening when it can be enjoyed without the crowds. Singers and musicians often perform in the smaller squares of the old town, and entertain you whilst you enjoy an excellent meal in one of the many tavernas or restaurants, or sit on the Liston sipping a ginger beer and watching the world go by. There are concerts in the bandstand, museums to visit, palaces to explore, and two fortresses to be climbed- the views are superb.
3kms from the house is the palace of Elisabeth of Austria (Sissy), the Achilleon, built in the 19th century and now a museum. It is set in the extremely pretty village of Gastouri which also repays exploring.
At the bottom of our road is a tunnel leading to a very well kept and welcoming beach, with a small snack bar serving excellent food, the owners really welcome our guests and make them feel at home.
Near us are many small shingle coves which you can have almost to yourselves, even in August. We will also be happy to direct you to sandy beaches and beauty spots all over the island.
Use this Corfu map to guide you to places of interest, and tell you distances between them.
“From the moment we entered the drive we knew we would be arriving somewhere fabulous. The tranquil atmosphere and splendid views are sublime. The lemon and orange groves are magical”
About the House
Featured in the ‘Sunday Times’ as one of 30 sensational villas (Feb. 2013) and Conde Nast Traveller magazine (April 2013)
On the desk you will find an information book which we are sure will be useful, and it also has our contact telephone numbers. We are staying in the vicinity of the house, and although while you are here the house is your home and we will not intrude, we are at hand to answer any questions you may have and want to do everything possible to ensure you have a memorable stay.
We have maid service, normally twice a week but this can be more if you choose. She will change bedding (normally once a week), and towels (twice weekly). We can also provide a chef if required. Guests are welcome to use the washing machine in the downstairs shower room if they wish.
The house has wifi throughout, and bedrooms have mosquito nets and fans with remote controls. We also provide a ‘welcome pack’ on the day of your arrival so that you do not have to go shopping immediately.
The front door of the house opens into the grand ‘saloni’- a wonderful space for parties as it goes the entire width of the house with doors leading off it to the other rooms.
The sitting room has a television with satellite news and sport channels, and a DVD player with a large selection of DVDs. There is also a day bed which can be used for a guest who does not wish to climb stairs.
The formal dining room has antique maps and prints, and the table comfortably seats 10 people.
The library has a large selection of books (mainly English), including some about Corfu and other parts of Greece. From here a door leads to the downstairs toilet.
The shower room has a built in double shower, great for cooling off after a day in the sun.
The large farmhouse kitchen is the ‘hub’ of the house, with a table for informal dining., and a sofa and comfortable chairs. There is a wood stove, gas hob and a double electric oven, and a dishwasher. Under the ‘island’ is a fridge, a freezer, and storage drawers and cup boards. A larger fridge is in the utility room behind the kitchen. Large cupboards conceal the microwave, cookery books, china, glasses etc.
The Venetian Room has seaview and garden view as it is on a corner, and has a small double bed.
The large Village Room has seaview and contains a double bed and a single bed
The Green Room also has seaview, and has two single beds.
The Victorian Room has a single brass bedstead, and looks out over the garden.
The Thirties Room is named for its furniture, a walnut double bed with matching wardrobes and dressing table. This room can be en suite as the smaller shower and toilet adjoin it. This has two doors so can be accessed from the landing or from the Thirties Room.
The family bathroom contains a wonderful cast iron roll top bath tub but also a modern shower and toilet.
Outside the house
The freshwater pool situated about 40 metres from the house is for guests private use. There are shaded areas around it and in the orange groves, and garden furniture so that you can enjoy eating outside as well as relaxing on a sunlounger.
“most rewarding after a day out Is sitting quietly with a drink reading on the spectacular balcony. Enjoying the view of the church tower and mainland Greece as a background”
Warning: the house is built on a rock. There are long drops, and the pool is not fenced. We are in the country so you may see lizards, snakes etc. Parents of young children are responsible for them at all times.
San Stefano Estate has been welcoming visitors for almost 300 years. Now it has been renovated so that you can enjoy it too!
The house is available to rent as a whole, suitable for a large family or group of friends. It is also the perfect venue for celebrations – weddings, anniversary parties etc., and groups of people sharing an interest.
Our aim is for you to love our house, and our beautiful island. We will do our best to help you do this, and delight in helping you to discover the secrets which make Corfu so special.
phone: 0030 26610 72216
mobile: 0030 6985030290
address: PO Box 59, Vrioni, Corfu 49084, Greece