Islands of the Western Mediterranean travel blog

Mountain pass stop with winter preparations

Village on high

Gourds as vessels in the Museum of Corsican Life

The citadel at Corte

View from Notre Dame a la Serra

Sculpture of the Moor's head featured on the flag.

Headed inland today to Corte which is in the centre of Corsica. A good road through the mountains and a major route across the island. Today there is a slight smattering of snow on the highest peaks and our first stop was at a mountain pass where a group of people travelling on Harley Davidson motorcycles was gathered as well as a large log truck. Mountains all round and as we headed down small villages perched on top or sides of mountains gave plenty of photo opportunities.

A railway line, narrow gauge runs through this area and we passed an iron rail bridge designed by Monsieur Eiffel of the tower fame.

Corte is a University city and has the only university in Corsica. The French had closed the university and it was only reopened four years ago and now serves students from all over the island; about 4500 students. For a period it was not allowed to speak Corsican in schools, only French, but that has now changed and many schools teach the local language or are bilingual.

In Corte we visited the citadel which now houses a Museum of Corsican life which very much emphasises the importance of the shepherds in the mountains and it was from these tough people that a band of resistance fighters emerged.

Here were also displayed various representations of the Moor's head which is featured on the flag of Corsica - just one head in contrast with Sardinia whose flag has four. Most unusual flags with old origins.

A display of posters in the museum showed how Corsica has been marketed as a tourist destination with the coast the main feature. It seems that it has attracted many rich and famous who want to build a coastal home and although the law forbids building within 100 metres of the sea there is a certain amount of corruption with land being sold, buildings started and then appeals against to the French courts. There are watchdog groups which take up these cases but the court system is very slow and even with a favourable outcome it is hard to get the law enforced for the houses to be demolished.

Malaria was a problem in the marshy lands around the coast and it was to help clear these that Australian eucalypts were planted. Many of these are now very large old trees and some look to be river gums.

Headed northwest to the coast after leaving Corte, seeing the narrow gauge railway every now and then and when we reached the coast headed south toward Calvi which is another resort town, apparently extremely crowded in summer but now a little quieter with some businesses closed for the cooler months.

Our driver, Fabian, has his home here and before taking us to our hotel took us beyond the immediate town to a church high above the sea, Notre Dame de la Serra, from which there were wonderful views of the surrounding area.

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