My love affair with Corsica started at high school. The stories about vendettas and family feuds of the village people who lived high up in the mountains encouraged me to learn French, the pride and passion of the Corsican people for their country, I found intriguing.
Later, I discovered Dorothy Carrington also known as Lady Rose Carrington, the travel writer and historian who arrived in Corsica in 1948, and stayed. Her books, papers and articles on different aspects of life, culture and history of Corsica showed just how much she understood the Corsican way of life, the complex history of the country and above all the Corsican people.
Rose Carrington chose to settle in Ajaccio, the largest town and best known as Napoleon’s birthplace. Although much of the maquis – the evergreen bush that covers Corsica has been cleared, the numerous oak and olive trees, the narrow streets lined with picturesque Mediterranean architecture and the rich history of Ajaccio make it an attractive capital.
What I particularly like though, is a wander through the market place then a leisurely cup of coffee in one of the cafés by the port -- the best place to observe the Ajaccians, especially the older ones and sometimes I’m lucky, I get to hear the latest on the political scene – always a hot subject in Corsica.
September is a good time to visit Ajaccio; the locals have more time and patience as most of the tourists have gone, the weather is not as stifling as in the summer months but still extremely pleasant and fares are less costly.
The most relaxed way of getting to Ajaccio from mainland France is by boat; the Italian ferry service Corsica Ferries is reliable, clean and comfortable.
It's such a pity though that most people head for Cap Corse or the southern tip Bonifaccio as soon as the ferry hits port; historic Ajaccio certainly deserves a day or two.
My next post will look at Napoleon in Corsica.
|A market stall in Ajaccio|