In one of my french classes a few semesters ago at Ole Miss, the class was broken down into pairs and asked to pick one of the thirteen regions in France and create a fifteen minute presentation about it. My partner and I picked the island off the south coast of France called Corsica. We didn’t have a particular reason for picking it other than we thought it would be interesting. We met a couple of times over the next two weeks and created the fifteen minute presentation about this one island.
When I started thinking about where to go on my last European adventure before coming home, I immediately remembered Corsica. The one fact that I didn’t forget from the presentation was what makes the island most famous: Napoleon Bonaparte was born in the island’s capital of Ajaccio. And I personally love the Napoleon’s life story. I love that he conquered much of Europe, installed revolutionary programs, and reformed much of the political climate in France. The most interesting fact that I find about the historical figure is that he was exiled not once but twice from France. The first time he was exiled he was sent back to his hometown of Ajaccio, Corse. But apparently that was not far enough from France because he resurfaced in Paris only to be exiled a second time. However, this time French leaders learned their lesson and sent Napoleon to the tiny island of St. Helena off the west coast of Africa in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It seems, to me at least, inconceivable that one man could take over a country, that that same man could take over most of Europe, and still that one man could be exiled not once from his home country but twice. The only way that Napoleon was staying away was if the French government sent him to one of the most remote islands in the world.
Needless to say, I am intrigued by Napoleon. Therefore, the decision to travel to the capital of Corsica for three days as my final destination was easy. I hopped a train, a plane, and a few buses and taxis but I finally made it to Corsica. The island is beautiful to say the least. It has a shock and awe landscape that extends for miles along its coast and countless hidden gems down cobbled streets and back-alleys within its harbors. Corsica is to the French as Hawaii is to the United States; they are both full of life and sun mixed with fun and relaxation.
I am extremely happy that I was fortunate enough to experience three wonderful days on the island of Corsica. I was able to fulfill a goal of mine to see the place that I had only ever talked about or seen in pictures for a class. I was able to walk through Napoleon’s childhood home, witness numerous Napoleon statues around Ajaccio, and fall in love with a city I didn’t know existed until a year ago. For that I will always be grateful!