Corsica; part 1 Bonifacio and up into the mountains

BONIFACIO

Copyright Millie Brown

Copyright Millie Brown

Copyright Millie Brown

THE MOUNTAIN VILLAGE OF LEVIE

Copyright Millie Brown

Copyright Millie Brown

Copyright Millie Brown

Copyright Millie Brown

Copyright Millie Brown

Corsica; I have dreamed of visiting this mediterranean island for the longest time, so when Australian friends invited me to join them for 5 nights I jumped at the opportunity (after all I am but a 40 minute flight away)! The plan, to meet up in Bonifacio and then head north through the island's rugged mountainous centre and finish in the town of Calvi situated on the island's north west coast.

I snuck in a little extra corner of the island when I flew into Ajaccio located on the islands west coast, picked up the car and headed south east to Bonifacio where my friends were disembarking from their boat and a heavenly week on the nearby island of Sardinia.

Fortunate to be visiting in June before the heat and human onslaught this ile de beauté as it is aptly known is nothing short of spectacular, from its coastline and beaches to the tips of its mountains, from its people to its food and wine.

Bonifacio featured here in my images is where we spent our first night and is one of the islands oldest towns, with a tormented past it sits dramatically on white limestones cliffs and spends its time looking out to sea.

This area of the island has long been inhabited and we know this because of the skeletal 'Dame de Bonifacio', dating back to 6500 BC and discovered in a cave shelter near the village of Capello just north of Bonifacio. The original skeleton is housed in the museum in the village of Levie (and the reproduction in the Bastion de l'Etendard's small museum in Bonifacio).

The town of Bonifacio itself was founded back in 828 by Count Bonifacio of Tuscany, fortified and strategically placed to repel its invaders. The fortification constructed by the Genovese in the 13th Century, was destroyed in the 16th and rebuilt and modernised by the French in the same century following the signing of the Versaille treaty in 1768 when Corsica became part of France.

Much of Bonifacio's unique character comes from systems set in place by the inhabitants, systems that enabled them to resist for sometimes months at a time the interminable sieges of the invaders. It is for this reason that the town was built on the top of grain silos and is dotted with a system of stone arcs between the houses allowing the distribution of water to the people via an aqueduct.

Over its history Bonifacio has been ruled by both the Republic of Pisa and the Genoans. In the 15th Century Spain tried its luck when the King of Aragon laid siege to Bonifacio for months however the Bonifacians managed to resist and the siege finished with the Aragonese fleeing. The same century also saw a devastating plague, an invasion by French forces and the Turkish pirate Dragut which promtly led to a nasty pillage and massacre by the Turks. The Genoans then returned, however for only a short period of time before Corsica finally came under French rule.

Visiting all that this historic town has to offer and strolling through its historic streets with its medieval architecture and intriguing and dramatic history cannot be done in one evening and one morning (which was what we had set aside) before heading up into the mountains of the island.  I however have a little plan up my sleeve, and that is to return later in the year so I can discover much, much more of this stunning clifftop town with its small and beautiful port (if there is one thing I am good at in life its having a travel plan)!

More images from our Corsican adventure to come.

Millie xx

Ps In the village of Levie we had the sweet pleasure of an invitation up into one of the villager's homes (as seen in her window above her glorious roses). This house has been in the family for generations, it was built in 1911 and is where she was born. The sweetest, warmest lady who welcomed us into her home for a chat and a drink.

Our new friend did however keep insisting that any photo we took of her would prove to be a disappointment to us, that she had NEVER and she really meant never taken a good photo, naturally I told her I didn't believe a word of it.  She was however convinced that if any of us took the time to print the photo we would see what she meant! (I think she may have been wrong about that)! In my eye she is beautiful.

 Corsica; Part 2, Corte and The Restonica Valley

Corsica; Part3, Porto, L'Ile Rousse and Calvi

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