In the beginning of the 18th century two foreigners, Nikolaos Pierris and his wife accompanied by a black servant Mehmet arrived to Corfu in a Venetian ship.
They made many enquiries about buying a property until they eventually found what they were looking for.
Even today this property exists and it is where the “Club Mediterranee” used to be. It is by the sea on the right before reaching IPSOS. One of the most spectacular areas of Corfu.
They built a house in the Eastern style and they settled there with their black servant.
They had no communication with the Corfu society and lived a quiet and lonely life, cultivating their land, planting trees and flowers.
This self-inflicted exile had its own story.
Nikolaos was of Greek origin, but from his early childhood was in the employ of a Turkish Pasha, Tzanoum Kotzia who was totally trusted by the Sultan.
Tzanoum brought him up like his own son, but when he reached manhood Nikolaos betrayed his benefactor by revealing to the Venetian Governor the secrets of the Ottoman Court which he was entrusted with by the Pasha.
His betrayal did not end here.
On one of his expeditions to Asia Minor, Tzanoum Kotzia brought back with him a most beautiful sixteen year old girl with blond hair and brown eyes.
Nikolaos one day saw her through the shuttered windows of the harem.
He approached her and talked to her with the help of the servant Mehmet who kept the keys to the girl’s apartment.
The two very much in love now decided to go to far places and Nikolaos was issued with a double passport by the Venetian Governor in the assumed name of Pierris.
Mehmet followed them . They then boarded a boat bound for Corfu.
Two years after they were well established on the island, Nikolaos’ wife became seriously ill.
Pierris asked a local woman to come and help. It is from this woman that it became known that the couple spoke a different language and the woman’s name was Nazli.
Her illness was worsening and Nikolaos, day and night stood at her bedside.
One night Nazli died. The next morning Pierris realised that a small rowing boat was not in its place and also Mehmet had disappeared.
In his deep sorrow he did not give another thought and so did not worry.
He buried his beloved in his garden and on the newly dug grave he planted many flowers.
Very quickly the ground was totally covered with dense foliage and flowers. Only the heart-broken lover knew where his beloved was resting.
One year later the Turkish fleet under Tzanoum Pasha Kotzia sailed to Corfu.
Pierris like all other nobles of the island offered his services to Field Marshall Count von Schulembourg and he was given a position in the bastions.
A while later the Pasha and his army disembarked at Ipsos and a black slave led Tzanoum to Pierris’ property. For many hours the Pasha walked in the property looking for Nazli’s grave in vain.
He then headed for Corfu town. They showed him the place Pierris was defending and he gathered there a great army force and attacked.
In the evening after the battle he was inspecting the prisoners and the wounded and accompanied by the black Mehmet, who was now his official guide, was looking for his enemy amongst the dead. Luck though did not help him that day to take his revenge.
One evening they brought a heavily wounded man to the Pasha’s tent. It was Nikolaos Pierris.
In a rage the Pasha grabbed him by the hair, lifted his head and then let it drop, while at the same time he kicked the almost dead man without mercy.
The prisoner opened his eyes and once again saw his old master.
“Ungrateful bastard” roared the Turk!
“Where is the woman you stole from me?”
“She died, Pierris whispered-she died…”
“You will pay for this, you dog”.
He ordered that he should be tied-up on a horse and despite the foul weather he took him, himself to Ipsos. The lightning was lighting the way.
When they arrived he untied him and ordered him to reveal the place where Nazli’s grave was.
Pierris refused and so the whip of the raging Turk hastened his death.
Before closing his eyes for good, he looked for the last time at the cypress and oak trees in his garden.
Not even Mehmet avoided the Pasha’s wrath. He ordered that they should hang him from a window of the house. Then he totally burnt down the house.
Nazli’s resting place remains a secret until this very day !
By Aleko Damaskinos