Saturday, February 16, 2013

On Cors(ica)

Rather than becoming extremely stressed and claustrophobic in crowds of drunken German Karneval revelers, I took myself off to France last week to visit a friend teaching there. Specifically, I went to the French-ish island of Corsica, which is actually closer to Italy than France. Be it known: the island's residents are Corsican. Not French, not Italian. Corsican. They even have their own language, which is written like French but pronounced like Italian.

But enough with the chatter.

Lovely Mediterranean beach

Napeoleon was born in Ajaccio

And there are lot of statues of him all around.
 The funny thing is, Corsicans don't really like Napoleon, but he is their most famous former resident. They seem to compromise by putting up statues but also disparaging him. They do like his family, and many Corsican children are named after his siblings.

I don't think he was this tall in real life

A view from the top of the last Napoleon's pyramid thing
 Notice the group of men in the foreground? They're playing bocce ball, which is apparently a Corsican obsession. They were really intent on it too - each man would toss his bocce ball and they would all stand around with hands behind their backs, observing, then break out into chatter and gesturing once the ball landed.

Mountains and the harbor

A view from way up high on a hike

Hello Ajaccio!

Pretty snowcapped mountains and clouds, etc.
 The views here really are lovely, especially up high. We went on a little hike - which was described as a walk but definitely had some steep uphill parts - and the whole thing was well worth it just to have these views.
Napoleon's childhood home. It has a lot of furniture inside.
 The Maison Bonaparte isn't a very big museum, but it did boast a series of color-specific rooms. One room was all yellow, another all green, another all blue, and another all red. There were also Bonaparte family trees in tapestries to be seen. That was kind of it, but definitely worth a one-time visit (especially since it's free to under-25s).

The cemetery, which looks like a little village
 The cemetery was really interesting to me - rather than burying their dead underground, each family has a little house thing in this cemetery, and coffins/urns are placed in the little house thing. It's like a little city with winding streets. Simultaneously somewhat creepy and touching, since the idea is that you are interred with the rest of your family. I like the sense of history, but the idea that I was walking through a city of the dead freaked me out a bit. I also got Lord of the Rings lines stuck in my head - "The way is shut. It was made by those who are Dead, and the Dead keep it."

The Bloody Islands
Apparently at sunset these islands look red, like they're drenched in blood. As you can see from the bit of light at the horizon, it is indeed sunset (albeit cloudy) and they look rather dark. It's a pretty stretch of coastline to be sure, but I'm not convinced these rocks ever look very red.

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