Ajaccio, Corsica

So last night, in a rare moment of peace, I was reading through some of the blogs I follow and saw a lovely post from Yet Another Blogging Mummy!! Memories from a fabulous holiday to the Azores.

It was written as a competition entry to a comp being run by Cunard – in conjunction with Jen at LoveChicLiving and Denise atTheSwelleLife.

The idea is to create a moodboard that shows how you would bring the Mediterranean into your home and interior style, focusing on one of Cunard’s Mediterranean Destinations.

Now normally I probably wouldn’t have considered doing one myself, however having recently discovered Pinterest I thought it would be great fun to give it a go and so many of Cunard’s destinations hold significant memories for me.

I mulled over which to choose – Heraklion, Crete is such a beautiful place and I spent two summers along the coast from there (many years ago!) so Crete conjures up so many visions for me. Rome, Italy I have only visited once but it was an amazing short break, a gift from my husband-to-be early on in our relationship. And so on.

But the one that holds the most memories for me is Ajaccio, Corsica – I spent a year in Corsica in my younger life, immersing myself into their way of life, and for that reason, I have chosen to base my moodboard and entry post on this truly Mediterranean destination.

wpid-20140620_105458.jpgThe year was 1997, I was 21 and off to spend my year-abroad, as part of my degree course, on the beautiful island of Corsica. I have no idea how I was fortunate enough to have been allocated this particular position, but someone, somewhere, must have been looking down kindly on me.

Corsica is known widely as “the island of beauty” and it really, truly is. I was a tad perturbed by Corsica’s turbulent history and many of the travel guides I read at the time, described it as the home of the Mafia where the presence of Godfather types was heavily felt.. But i needn’t have worried!

The people were welcoming and friendly and although they are fiercely independent and like to think of themselves as Corsican and not French, it was an amazing experience for me to be completely submersed into French life. NB they were happy enough to consider themselves French in the summer of ’98 as that was the year France won the World Cup and boy did we celebrate it in Corsica!

There were to be two other English assistants on the island, both were on placement in Ajaccio itself miles from where I was to stay in the small town of Sartene.wpid-20140620_105416.jpg

I flew from Marseille to Ajaccio’s Campo Dell’Oro Airport on the 1st October 1997. Ajaccio is the capital of the southern departement of Corsica, I suppose it is the equivalent of Birmingham being the largest city in the West Midlands. But that is about as close as the similarities come! I was somewhat taken aback at how small the “largest” town on the island was, but boy was it breathtaking!

Ajaccio is everything I adore about the Mediterranean.

There are beaches and the sea, a small port full of the colourful fishing boats that are synonymous with Med life as well as the port for the rather larger Cruise ships and ferries that are coming to drop off their visitors. There are palm tree-lined boulevards and tall venetian style architecture.

The buildings are painted in beautiful, vibrant, sunshiny colours with traditional wooden shutters at the windows and heavy wooden doors. Some are aged and some have been treated and painted in further vibrant colours, rich reds and deep sea blues and turquoises.

The town is also steeped in history. It is renowned for being the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte and there are homages to him everywhere in the town. There are statues in various squares, including a large bronze one in the Place de Gaulle and his home too is well-signposted.

The bustling town market has rows of stalls selling all things that spring to mind when you are imagining the Mediterranean! Bowls of spices to ignite your sense of smell, fresh citrus fruits which make your mouth water and fresh fish caught by fishermen in the aforementioned fishing boats.

Just outside of Ajaccio is the Iles Sanguinaires. It is a spectacular place – four small red granite islands, home to a lighthouse and ruined watchtower. When the wind blows it brings the waves crashing over the rocks and it is so dramatic.

Thinking of Ajaccio and Corsica, makes me think of rustic tables and chairs, terracotta pots, spice racks and fancy fruit bowls, all with injections of colour – yellows and reds and oranges and blues. It makes me think of fishing boats and the sea, of narrow streets and passageways lined with pretty foliage and flowers. Stone or wooden floors and shutters at the windows to keep the indoors cool whilst the outdoors is baking hot, etched glass vases and bronze statuettes.

wpid-20140620_105405.jpgDoing this project has really brought back so many memories for me. I can practically smell the smells and see the views when I close my eyes. I was encouraged to search through the boxes of old “stuff” we have in the loft and found some amazing bits and bobs that have helped me draw out these memories. A handful of photos from my time there, along with some postcards of the town I lived in, and the best discovery for me was a typewritten account of my time there. It details my arrival and first few months there, including many trips to Ajaccio and other towns across the island, but unfortunately I never must have got around to finishing it as it stops quite abruptly just before the Christmas of 1997.

I love the mediterranean, and everything about it. I would love to have the chance to bring my vision home.
Follow Lindsey’s board La Corse on Pinterest.


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