The Beautiful Isle of Corsica

By: Douglas Scott

Corsica has been fought over for centuries, beginning as an outpost of Pisa in the 11th century, then falling into the Genoeses hands in 1248, who passed it over to the Office de St Georges which was a rich financial organisation in the 15th century, before the Corsicans claimed their independence in 1755.

They set up Corte as their capital and created justice and education systems before losing the island to Louis XV in 1769. Corsica has been part of France ever since but to give or take the odd year here and there, and is famous for producing Napoleon Bonaparte, who ruled much of Europe during the 19th century.

The language, traditions and culture of Corsica are fiercely upheld by the Corsicans. Corsu is mainly a spoken language, although road signs are increasingly bilingual, and has more connections with Italian than French.

There are lots of people working towards its survival as it is an important part of Corsican identity.

In spite of a rise in the number of tourists visiting Corsica every year, a figure that now greatly exceeds the islands population, Corsica remains an unspoilt and delightful place.

Still, it is best to visit Corsica in May or June when there are fewer tourists and the olives are ripening in the groves under the Corsican sun, or in September and October if you have hay fever and want to avoid the pollen high season.

Although it is a fairly small island, Corsica certainly manages to pack in as many attractions and different landscapes as a whole continent.

From the red porphyry Calanches on the west coast, to the perfect white beaches and deep blue water on the east, Corsica is diverse and inspiring and fully deserves its title of Isle de beaute or in English, the island of beauty.

Away from the coast are the mountains made of granite and covered in snow until mid July, flatland marshes on the eastern side of the island, the Parc Naturel Regional de la Corse.

In the north west there is a deserted desert, the Desert des Agriates, and of course the quintessentially Corsican towns of Calvi, with its narrow streets, the seat of feudal lords, and cliff top Bonifacio where Odysseus allegedly landed.

Corsica has a lively culture is the product of centuries of customs maintained by the island's soul, and is richly expressed in its voices, music and crafts.

The village fair, a showcase for the Corsican way of life with its winemaking tradition going back to antiquity and its gastronomy full of local flavours, is just one way of discovering and learning to love Corsica.

An when in the night air you hear the paghjelle, the traditional three voice style of singing, it is the proud, fiery Corsican soul that you are hearing in song.

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