Sunday, 8 August 2010

Svegliu d’Isula in Concert, Baracci

Perhaps the best known of the Corsican groups is I Muvrini (who sang with Sting), who regularly tour the island, and we’d intended to go to the Sartène concert, but when I discovered that Svegliu d’Isula would be playing at the Baracci fair on the same night, there was really no contest.

Svegliu d’Isula – which translates as 'awakening of the island' – originate from the Valinco Sartenais and so despite their rise to fame locally and on the continent since 2007, we are often privy to free concerts in the region - HURRAH!

This weekend, the concert was the highlight of the Foire de Baracci country fair. We’d arrived early to pick up some unusual bits and bobs such as a handbag made entirely from zips(!) which sounds odd but is actually very creative, and some delicious fig jam.

I am a country girl at heart so I love the Baracci area, and I have always been fascinated by the ‘Hotel de Baracci’ which apparently was built in the 1900’s by Russian immigrants.  The building is really more reminiscent of those found in the north of the island, with Italianate styling and sunbleached façade, which unfortunately has fallen to wrack and ruin.

It is actually a travesty that this building has not been transformed into a boutique hotel or something similar, but when you see it in the cold harsh light of day, you can appreciate the amount of money that would be needed. Nonetheless, every time I pass I can’t help feeling just a little sad…

Being a country fair, there was the usual collection of food stalls and we decided on a couple of Brochettes de Veau (spit roast free range veal kebabs in a hunk of baguette) with a couple of glasses of moonshine (optimistically classed as wine, but no label on the bottle and you wouldn't want to smoke and drink at the same time!) from the little shack erected at the edge of the building.

OK, so as we got closer to the front of the queue I was slightly disturbed at the lack of health and safety (huge flames very close to bamboo type stuff) and the environmental health would have had a field day with the bloke using what looked like gardening gloves to hold the meat whilst he hacked bits off with a saw(!), but it tasted scrummy so that's all that counts I guess...

The grounds were packed with locals and tourists alike and we ate to the sounds of a couple of local groups; Armunia di Vigna and Doministra, before the main concert started at 21h30. There were people everywhere, sitting at tables, on the ground, in the trees and perched on walls.

Each song was explained in French and Corsican. They explained that the language of Corsica should be kept alive and how it is shameful that so many local languages such as ‘Bonifacien’ has been lost over the years. This is what true nationalism is all about, and I have never felt so ignorant and foreign in all my years in Corsica.

The other illuminating moment of the evening - if you'll pardon the pun - was when we came to leave and realised just how dark the dark can be in Corsica. There are no street lights at Baracci and I could feel myself walking on something squidgy, so I was almost glad that the thousands of tiny stars lighting up the night were not bright enough to show me where I was going!


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