The house of San Stefano was built on the hill just north of Benitses, in 1782, by a member of the great Venetian Giustiniani family, on the site of an older house destroyed by an earthquake- so the new one was built on rock!
The house was the centre of a large estate, and took its name from the private chapel of San Stefano, which is built on the same rock as the house.
San Stefano and the farm 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 History of Corfu as the visitors’ books show.
Amongst them was Elizabeth of Austria and Kaiser Wilhelm 2nd, a photo on the landing is a gift from Queen Alexandra.
More recently Vivien Leigh, Roger Furse, Gerald Durrell and notables in many fields have enjoyed a drink on the balcony whilst watching the sunset.
British High Commissioner Sir Frederick Adam 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, Greece, England and India (where Lily Flamburiari was born in 1896). The present generation have a cosmopolitan inheritance on both sides, as Petros Manessis mother Sofia was the daughter of 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.
The house now has been renovated so that you can enjoy it too!
It 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.
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 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.