Corsica – Terra Corsa

BY Lisa Lindblad

December 15, 2010

Glancing at my neighbor’s newspaper, Corse Matin, on my flight from Nice to Calvi,  I read the banner “Trois morts en Haut Corse” – ‘Three dead in Haut Corse.”  I smiled inwardly and thought of my Mother who, if she knew, would be saying, “Why does Lisa always have to go to these places?”

They say there are more murders per capita in Corsica than anywhere else in France.  I’m not sure if this statistic is correct – like kalliste Corse, this could be a slight case of hyperbole.  But somehow I doubt it.  Corsica IS the most beautiful island I have ever seen, and I think there ARE more murders per capita here than anywhere else in France..perhaps anywhere else in Western Europe.  While the violence is, no doubt, of great import to the Corsicans, I am assured it intrudes little on the visitor’s experience.  (Granted I was traveling here out of season, but the joke between my colleague and me during our vagabonding was that we were always, and utterly, alone wherever we went.)

Yet, yet…the knowledge that three men had been murdered in the north of the island prior to my arrival adds an edge to the place.  And I, a city girl who has an eye in the back of her head, am not easily seduced by edge.  Can you imagine if you come from a paradise where such things are unknown?  There is an echo of violence here – or, let’s say, a calling card – wherever you travel on the island.  Signs are in French, first, and Corsican, second.  Dual language signs tend to escape defilement, but the signs solely in French, spray painted with slogans, tell a different story.

FIF!  Fuori I Francesi!  Out French!

And then, even more shockingly, the bullet holes rending metal, shredding France’s pride, up the ante.  The Most Beautiful Villages of France, the Best Hotels of the World, the starred Michelin Restaurants of the World…France is justly proud of its eye trained in beauty, trained in quality.

Blow it away.

The battle for separatism, with all its issues of rights and privileges, is not something I wish to make light of.  It is a compelling subject and the fury of the calling cards, left randomly by the impassioned separatists, are challenges to the visitor to keep eyes open, curiosity sharp, and to ask questions.

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John Derian Goes West