Today we arrived in Corsica, France, the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte. This vertical chalky granite world of its own, rising in the Mediterranean between Provence and Tuscany, remains France's very own Wild West: a powerful natural setting and, literally, a breath of fresh air.
Corsica's strategic location 105 miles south of Monaco and 50 miles west of Italy made Corsica a prize hotly contested by a succession of Mediterranean powers, notably Genoa, Pisa, and France. Their vestiges remain: the city-state of Genoa ruled Corsica for more than 200 years, leaving impressive citadels, churches, bridges, and nearly 100 medieval watchtowers around the island's coastline. The Italian influence is also apparent in village architecture and in the Corsican language: a combination of Italian, Tuscan dialect, and Latin.
Corsica gives an impression of immensity, seeming far larger than its 133-mile length and 50-mile width, partly because its rugged, mountainous terrain makes for very slow traveling and partly because the landscape and the culture vary greatly from one microregion to another. Much of the terrain of Corsica that is not wooded or cultivated is covered with a dense thicket of undergrowth, which along with chestnut trees makes up the maquis, a variety of wild and aromatic plants including lavender, myrtle, and heather that gave Corsica one of its sobriquets, "the perfumed isle."
Once again we decided to take a train tram to tour the city which took about 90 minutes. Evidence of Napoleon's heritage are everywhere to be seen.
The city is quite beautiful and lush. After the tour we headed back to the ship.