Sunday, 28 September 2014

Corsica - Cap Corse, Calvi

Moving along the coastline of northern Corsica we discovered Calvi (Always Faithful). This name referred, at the beginning, to its loyalty to the republic of Genoa which originally 'owned' Corsica. During the war with Revolutionary France, British forces under Admiral Nelson and captured the city in the Siege of Calvi. It was during the bombardment of Calvi that Nelson sustained the injury that cost him his eye.

There are also references here to Napoleon 1. In a square stands a stature to him, possibly an example of early PR. The statue of Napoleon clearly isn't fashioned after the Emperors' real body type- more like some sort of Apollo. Our tour group chuckled as we contemplated it.

Calvi's a pleasant place and gains most of its revenue from summer tourism. You can take a boat trip, or a little train trip. Other than that, and walking, there's not much to do other than soak up the laid-back atmosphere and historical points of note.

What really intrigued me were the toilets people had 'in' their apartments. Most of the buildings were built a long time before indoor toilets so what to do when there's no room to create one? Well, you build an out-house on your balcony. This phenomena can be seen in other parts of Corsica too, but the ones I saw in Calvi were rather striking.

This little city is said to be the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. We noted the house reputed to be the one in which he was born, and the monument to his endeavours. Of course nothing was said about the brutality that followed his contact with indigenous people.

Naturally, there's a citadel on a hill. It can be visited though there's little to see there other than great views. It's a daunting climb up all the steps so we just window shopped in the town and found a waterfront cafe that actually made a decent tea and coffee.

After exploring for a bit we joined the group going on yet another boat trip, so it was time to swallow yet another sea-sickness pill. I have to say, the boat trip was a bit pointless. There's little of interest. Sure there was the odd sea cave but hardly worth 1.5 hours in a boat chugging along the coastline.

We saw a few ruined towers in the water, looking rather picturesque, a few cows mooing nearby, the odd sea bird but really, give it a miss, it's not that interesting.

You can always fall back on visiting a few churches. With Corsica's Italian history you must expect a few of those along the way.

What did interest me, as we drove along the east coast, was the view of the Island of Monte Cristo (yes, the one Alexandre Dumas immortalised) and just along from that the island of Elba (yes, immortalised as Napoleon's first island exile and the one he escaped from before the One Hundred Days). Monte Cristo is not inhabited though pirates and refugees had made attempts over the centuries. It's rather inhospitable and is a nature reserve now. Only 1000 tourists per year are allowed to set foot on it. People do live on Elba and you can take a boat trip to visit it but there's not much to see there. So those two islands lie between Corsica and the Italian mainland.

Here's a map of Corsica I found on the internet. 

The next, and last post, on Corsica will feature Saint Florent, Corte and Pigna.


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