First Day in Napoleon’s Hometown

Ajaccio, Corsica, is a lovely place, on a vast Mediterranean bay, full of Italian exuberance and French style.  It’s a bit run-down here and there, but that only adds to the authenticity. We arrived on its patron saint’s feast day and were treated to a solemn religious parade and marching band. The museums were closed for the festival so we toured the public spaces, finding three Napoleon statues, two representing the local son as Caesar, the third resembling a Soviet war memorial.

Our fifth-floor walk-up apartment overlooks the citadel where the young boy Napoleon is purported to have hero-worshipped the soldiers and traded his refined white bread for their coarse brown rations.  To this day, the citadel remains a military installation.  The plaque outside its walls tells its distinguished history, without mentioning that in 1792 Napoleon himself led an attack of French troops against Corsican rebels holed up inside.  Based on the statues and this tourist sign, I’d conclude that his hometown has whitewashed Napoleon’s colorful history to turn the complex man into a flat heroic figure.

I’m sure that Corsica has much more to teach me in the coming days.



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Copyright © 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 Margaret Rodenberg