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Corsica

Moments of Eternity ...


The Rocky Inlets [Photo Desjobert]


Culture and Traditions ...

Hamlet of Poggie in Valle d'Orezza [Ph. Desjobert] The Balagne [Ph. Desjobert]

A Masterpiece of Nature risen out of the Mediterranean ...

Praised  to the skies by some, discredited by others.
Corsica favours excess, confrontation and sometimes drama.
Its history resembles its geography, as do those born there : granite-like, secretive.
Turbulent. Impenetrable.

From back in the mists of time, there comes a saying which haunts me : "A country without a language is a country without order". We do have our own language, but we have disorder too.

Civilisations and invaders took over this privileged land. The most visible remains are Genoese.

Here it is impossible to escape from history.

Do not believe a word of these jumbled ideas. Erase them all. Form your own opinion.

You will discover that Corsica is better than they say, better than its legend.

Islands are paradoxical, and this one is no exception, masterful at contradiction.
Islands are part of continents but Corsica remains resolutely apart.

The real Corsica is not just coastline guarded peacefully by the Genoese towers.
The charm of the inlets, the bays and the endless beaches can be found elsewhere, but its authenticity is inland, where chestnut groves lie, where mountains rise up and villages cling to the land to avoid becoming deserted.

To think that laughter once echoed from the granite walls of these houses, now abandoned.
Now, just the sound of silence......

The fate of islands is not that enviable; most are tough-skinned.
Yet that island is a patchwork of green all year round.
There the temperature is mostly mild, to such an extent that spring spends winter there, and as they temper one another the mildness persists.

Cinarca, Balagne, Agriates, Cap Corse, Castagniccia, Casinca, Fiunorbo, a mental flight clockwise over these regions will pass over  landscapes separated down the centre by the mountain ridge.

Anyone who wants to reduce Corsica to a picture postcard has not looked hard or far enough.

 
Biting cold spells, often harsh, combined with oppressive bouts of heat, have made the severe mountain and the enamel  blue sea that turns to foam when jostled by winter, driving the islanders back into hiding.  The island suits those who have an open soul.

It is impossible to see everything, even if you refer to a guidebook which gives star ratings to the outstanding places of interest.   It's definitely  impossible to see everything.

Nevertheless, soak up the spirit of Corte, this metaphor for power, and push on as far as Tralonca. Gaze far out to sea from the Capo Rosso. Once you get to Cap Corse, this footbridge floating over the sea, you can meditate like the wise old men who sit on the low walls and like philosophizing for the sheer pleasure of thinking.

Go and see Centuri,  Sant'Antonino in the Balagne region, where the olive groves grow, and Bonifacio,  where the land ends... and Sartene, Porto-Vecchio, Girolata, the scattered Romanesque chapels, the protruding needles of Bavella, and the unspoilt beach of Arone, near Piana...

There I shall end my whistle-stop tour.  I could  write an entire anthology just  to fully explore this imaginary museum of which I carry every stone and every tree within me .

Travel the length and breadth of this island, as far as you can go.
It is true, I agree, that to get to know Corsica you have to make some effort: resisting its winding roads, its mountain paths,  its sheer cliffs and alluring precipices, but when you finally reach the end of the road, respect it, for if what you find remains almost intact,  this is because many of its inhabitants fought and continue to fight to preserve it, so that it can continue to be this masterpiece of nature, risen out of the Mediterranean, bearing a name which resembles its very self : Corsica .

Jérôme Camilly Journalist-writer

 

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