Ajaccio, Corsica, France

                                                                  Ajaccio Harbor

April 14, 2012

Corsica was a real surprise to us.  We had no idea of what to expect, and apart from being a new port for us, it didn’t particularly call to us.  The island is located in the Mediterranean Sea, off the southeastern coast of France, just north of the Italian island of Sardinia.  Corsica belonged to the Republic of Genoa until 1755, and was annexed by France in 1769.  It was an independent republic between those dates.  Evidence has been found of Roman occupation of the island.  The island was formed by volcanic explosions, and the majority of it is mountainous.  The coastline is rugged and in the spring, when we visited, the island is very green thanks to the winter rainy season that is typical of the Mediterranean climate.

We docked around 10:00 AM, in the large, sheltered harbor (photo above) at Ajaccio (pronounced Ahh-jacques-see-oh or Ahh-jacques-show).  Ajaccio is the capital and largest city of Corsica.  The city is most famous as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte.  

The flag of Corsica is a modification of the one that once belonged to the king of Aragon.  The flag shows a black head on a white background, as shown on the current license plates.  The head represents the defeat of the Saracens during a revolution.  In the original the headband was a blindfold, but it has been changed into a headband to show eyes open to the future.

Although the island is French, we signed up for an excursion called ‘Cargese Greek Village’.  

Cargese was settled by a group of Greeks who arrived in 1676 and requested permission to settle.  The permission was granted on the condition that they would recognize the Pope as their religious leader.  The Greeks agreed, and the village has been there ever since.

We boarded our bus and headed out through the countryside to Cargese, a village situated high above a beautiful bay, and overlooking one of the old Genoese watch towers that still remains.  The hills were covered with flowers, mostly in yellow and white, a cheerful sight (unfortunately there are no really good photos of them).

The ride out to Cargese was rather long (at least an hour), but our guide was very informative and the scenery was gorgeous.

We got off the bus in a parking lot for a park which overlooked the bay, and started to walk through the village.  Cargese is clean and has a very neat, well-kept look.  Our walk took us through several streets and down a fairly steep hill to get to where the town's two cathedrals are located.  The cathedrals, one Catholic, one Eastern Orthodox, face each other across a vegetable garden.  At right the photo above is the Roman Catholic Church, and the photo below it is of the Eastern Orthodox or Greek Catholic Church.

The Roman Catholic Church has a somewhat less showy interior than the Greek Church.  One notable difference between the two is that the Roman Catholic church has traditional stained glass windows, where the Greek church has clear windows.

We walked back to our bus by a different route so we got a more complete view of the village.

Along the way we noticed the remains of another Genoese watch tower.  Most of them are not as intact as the one pictured earlier, or the one below, which is at the end of the peninsula on the far side of the bay shown earlier.

We had one more stop on the way back to the ship, at L’Allegria Restaurant, for a taste of the local charcuterie (cold, cooked meats) and wine.  As per our usual experience on this trip everything was excellent.

The final set of photos in the album shows the coastline and the rocky coast, along with a few of the wild flowers.

                                                                     Genoese Watch Tower

© Susan L. Stone 2015                   rovingstones@me.com