Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Napoleon and Corsica

Commander Kelly in Ajaccio
I was somewhat astonished to learn last week that Corsicans do not, in the main, have a favorable view of their most famous native son -- Napoleon.  He and his family committed the great crime of switching allegiance and siding with France against Paoli in the struggle for independence.  As a result, Napoleon received an education at Brienne military school in France but he and all his family were compelled to flee the island.  The entire Bonaparte clan is regarded in Corsica with all the respect accorded Benedict Arnold in the USA.

His last visit to Corsica took place in 1799 on his return from Egypt when he was 30 years old.  He never returned to Corsica as First Consul or Emperor.

You will, nevertheless, find the spirit of Napoleon throughout the island of Corsica to this day.  Consider the Napoleon Grotto near Bonifacio. Napoleon seems even to have become a part of the natural landscape of the island (see photos below)!
Napoleon's Grotto (Photo: Tom Ziemba)

Napoleon's Grotto, near Bonifacio

You will find more evidence of Napoleon in the exquisite town of Bonifacio where Napoleon stayed briefly in 1793...

Napoleon slept here, Bonifacio

It is in the sleepy Corsican Capital of Ajaccio that you will find the epicentre of the Napoleonic world, for it was here that Napoleon was born and spent his youth.  Under the shadow of a monument to Napoleon you will hear the "clack-clack" of Frenchmen of a certain age playing boules in the sun...

Frenchmen at work, Ajaccio

In Ajaccio you will find Napoleon decked out as a Roman emperor on the town square...

Napoleonic Toga Party, Ajaccio

In Ajaccio you will find the church in which Napoleon was baptised...

Napoleon's first church

You will find Napoleon even in the bars and restaurants of Ajaccio...

Spirits of Napoleon, Ajaccio
You will also find the Palais Fesch, a wonderful museum founded by Napoleon's maternal uncle, Cardinal Fesch.  This museum is home to works ranging from medieval through to contemporary Corsican art.

Cardinal Fesch, Palais Fesch

Ajaccio had another favourite son -- the singer and actor Tino Rossi.  You will find his home on the beach near Ajaccio.  Here is a sample of Tino Rossi...

Tino Rossi's tour of Ajaccio

You can now purchase Commander Kelly's 
first book, America Invades here...www.americainvades.com or on Amazon...www.amzn.com/1940598427

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