Lawrence Durrell lived in Bellapais from 1953–56, detailing his experience in Bitter Lemons. To find his home, walk up from the abbey square along Aci Limon Sokak which climbs past the Tatlisulu market – there is a small hand-painted sign “Bitter Lemons 400m up on left” attached to a telegraph pole and pointing skywards. Another sign further up indicates that you’re nearly there but should really visit the Gardens of Irini guest house. Durrell’s house (dated 1893) is large and yellow, with brown doors and window shutters and a wooden-fenced roof terrace. In case you were in any doubt, there’s a ceramic plaque above the door. Across the road is the public water fountain (marked “ER 1953”), which played a prominent part in the tortuous and hilarious process of buying the house – the purchase takes up a whole chapter in the book.
Another chapter of the book is devoted to the “Tree of Idleness” that stands opposite the abbey. Durrell was warned never to sit under it because “its shadow incapacitates one for serious work”, a belief that arose from the idle hours spent by many villagers under the tree. It is now the centrepiece of a rather good restaurant.