Friday, November 19, 2010

Sweet Corsica

After a day of rain and wind in Lucca and Pisa, I awoke to this.  As Candace Olson loves to say on HGTV, "How divine."

Ajaccio, Corsica, has to be one of the most blissful towns on the planet.  Yep, mark it down as another place where I'd be content to settle for several months or even years.  Napoleon Bonaparte, who was born just a few blocks inland from this pier, is known to have said on more than one occasion that he'd know he was on the island of Corsica by the smell alone.  I believe it.  The island is full of rosemary, juniper, heather, thyme, and a variety of other aromatic plants that combine with the ocean air to make each breath intoxicating.  

Since the day we arrived just happened to be Napoleon's birthday, numerous parades and celebrations were scheduled.  A market (yippee!) was also being held near Ajaccio's main square, so I decided to wander through and shop.  I sampled local honey and nougat, perused dozens of tables of fruits, vegetables, spices, locally handcrafted jewelry, and soap.  Doesn't it look fantastic?  I loved the hat on the guy in the second photo.  To me, he looked like he'd walked straight off a postcard.

After spending our Euros in the market, the DH and I walked a few blocks to Napoleon's birthplace for a quick tour.  Quite a bit of the original furniture is in the house, there was a ton of information on how the family lived, and there was also a special, limited-time display of Corsican clothing from the era.  I love seeing historical clothing, so that was a special treat.  Unable to temper my writing research habit, I took copious notes and photographs.  

And check out Napoleon's bedroom.  The bed's original, but my guess is that he didn't have the torchiere lamp.

Once we were back outdoors, we debated going for coffee or walking toward the parade route.  When I saw these two heading toward the parade, though, I decided to follow.  

The closer we got to the beach, the more costumed men we saw.  It felt, for the next few hours, as if we'd truly stepped back in time to Napoleon's Corsica.  After the parade, we grabbed coffee and ice cream at a nearby cafe, went through the Musee Fesch (filled with art at one time owned by Napoleon's uncle, Cardinal Joseph Fesch), then walked along the beach.

After making one last pass through the market so I could purchase some vervain soap I'd seen earlier, we made our way back to the ship for what proved to be a highlight of our trip, a fireworks show to celebrate Napoleon's birthday.  We may have had the best viewing spot on the island.  

Now that I've fallen in love with Corsica, I've decided I must set a book there.  Not sure when it'll happen, but it will.

Next, the final stop:  Villefranche.

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