On Sunday May 7 we visited the island of Corsica, population 351,000. It is an island in the Mediterranean and one of the 18 regions of France. A single chain of mountains makes up two thirds of the island. We visited the capital city of Ajaccio. Napoleon Bonaparte was born here in 1769, the second of eight children. This was 15 months after France purchased the island from Italy.
This was a tender (ferry) port meaning the ship anchored offshore and we had to take a tender boat to shore. If you did not take a ship excursion you had to pick up a tender boat ticket from a staff member between 6:30 AM and 9:00 AM. The earlier you picked up a ticket, the earlier the tender boat you would be able to take to the island. You had to wait until your number was called to board the boat. A bit of a nuisance but not terrible. At one point they had to halt the tender boat operation for 45 minutes while another cruise ship came in and parked.
Eventually our number was called and we were on our way. It was a beautiful day and the ship was docked in a sheltered harbor so the short 15 minute ride to the island was smooth.
From the ship, the town appeared picturesque and quaint. But once in town it felt old, tired and somewhat rundown with some buildings in need of repair. The streets were very narrow, with those by the harbor lined with cafes and many souvenir shops.
The streets were densely packed with tourists eager to do some last shopping since this was our last port of call. It was difficult to make our way along the narrow crowded streets.
Napoleon’s influence is obvious throughout the town with statues and monuments, including bronze N’s on the streets.
The house and street where he was born is an attraction as well as the church where he was baptized.
The church where he was baptized is especially beautiful and was open.
This 18th century baptismal font was used to baptized Napoleon.
Another church across town says his tomb was inside. Research back on the ship said that Napoleon’s body is in Paris.
There was a citadel fortress built in 1492 to protect the city from maritime attacks. It was open and free. Very little information was available and what information there was, was in French only. The fortress did not look like any effort had been made to restore it or keep it up as an important historical attraction.
The moat was used one time for a tennis court.
We didn’t see much in the way of economy other than tourism. Of the five ports we visited, this is the only port where a young man asked for money. I imagine there is very little employment available in the town.
After wandering around for two and a half hours we were more than ready to catch the tender boat back to the ship.
Next up: Disembarkation near Rome