Friday, 14 August 2009


It must be about 10-15 years since I visited Corte last and all I remember was that it was grey and cold, but as that was November, that’s not surprising really! Today, the reality couldn’t have been further from what I remembered, with brightly coloured houses and shops providing a sharp contrast to the blue skies.

I started off in the Place Paoli and headed straight up to the ‘Haute Ville’ at the top of the town, and found myself in the Place Gaffroy. Named after Pascal Paoli’s predecessor General Gaffroy, a statue has been erected in his honour just in front of his old house which still has all the old bullet holes from the siege in 1750 – eek!

From here I wandered up to towards the Citadel but got distracted by one of the houses where a group of friends had decided to have a sing-a-long. They started with some polyphonic Corsican harmonies and it wasn’t long before a crowd gathered, but once they started on the Monkees and ‘I’m a believer’, I thought it was time to move on!

I wandered up through the archway, regretting that I hadn’t changed my trusty flipflops for walking shoes which would have been much more comfortable on the cobbles. It wasn’t long before I was reminded that Corte is the ancient capital of the island, and here you can feel the independent spirit everywhere from the flags on houses to the spoken word and even Radio Corti Vivu!

I’d seen a sign for a Belvedere (view point), so I followed the cobbled streets as they wound up towards the citadel, and was amazed to find a whole quartier that I have never seen before. There were a collection of three or four restaurants, and everything was really green and fresh looking which was quite a contrast to the sun-bleached look of the old buildings below.

I carried on up to the Belvedere and was surprised to find that the wind was really blustery which was a bit of a welcome relief from the heat. I climbed up to the top and looked out over the lower town and surrounding area which is really nothing to write home about, but the view of the citadel from this angle was fabulous.

I was getting peckish and hadn’t yet explored the lower town and the Cours Paoli which is the main street, so I took an easy stroll down and settled myself in one of the bars for a quick snack and a drink. There were loads of yummy looking restaurants to choose from and I’d been recommended to ‘La Trattoria’ but as it was such a short trip, I wanted to make the most of my time sightseeing.

This is the one place that I do remember from last time – A Casa Curtinese – a little grocery shop selling, well, just about everything really! I waited for ages for the old bloke with a bike to move. He could see me waiting and deliberately moved in the direct line of my shot until he was right in front of me. Why is there never a spade handy when you need to whack someone with one?

Just time for a quick look in the souvenir shops, and then I was back on the road for the south. Amazingly, it rained whilst we were coming back through Vizzavona. It was lovely after the heat of the day so we left all the windows open in the car, but within about 5 minutes it had stopped again. Oh well, back to watering the plants tonight then…

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