Napoleon Bonaparte overseeing Ajaccio

Napoleon Bonaparte overseeing Ajaccio

Friday 6.10.23

Having packed yesterday we move on and we are separated from our luggage as we leave it in the hotel reception and walk to the station whilst the luggage will meet us in Ajaccio.

Once again an AMG 800 – also pretty noisy but we avoid sitting on adjacent to the motors today.  We start with the same route as yesterday trying to spot the now closed line which branched off at Casamozza to Porto-Vecchio a small town on the south east corner of the island.  This suffered badly during WWII and part closed as a result with the rest closing in 1953.  Partial re-opening has been considered but seems unlikely.

The line runs through some amazing landscapes, not quite as dramatic as yesterday – but equally remote and unoccupied for much of the journey.  Until Vivvazona the road and rail are not that far apart but the line enters a tunnel and the road climbs over a pass nearly 4000ft above sea level and can be closed in winter.  Road and rail come closer to each other around the Viaduc du Fondali.  They then separate and wind their own ways through the valleys as we head (typically) in a south westerly direction although we probably visit most of the other points of the compass as we twist and turn.  This is more obvious looking later at a map as I spend the trip watching the countryside through the window.

Ajaccio is the capital and (not surprisingly) there is a large fortress of Genoese origin adjacent to the original harbour.  There is a much more modern harbour where one of Cunard Queens is berthed for the day as part of a Mediterranean cruise.  We walk along the harbour front to the Town Square.

Historically Napoleon Bonaparte was born here in 1769 (or possibly 1768) and did not initially learn French which was required before he could enter Military College.  Needless to say as a cruise ship port the town now celebrates Napoleon!  Following a light lunch we return to the Town Square and rather than exert ourselves await the departure of one of the two Dotto trains.  Be careful when buying tickets – there are two trains – and one takes longer than the other, our time was limited so we could not take the longer trip and initially bought the wrong tickets – which were exchanged and the difference refunded without difficulty once we realised.

The train takes us to the Monument to Napoleon I in the Place d’Austerlitz which  was inaugurated in 1938 following a public subscription which had commenced in 1935.  We also pass the Buonaparte house and the fortress on a circular route around the town.  The town also attracts winter visitors as it maintains a relatively mild climate at 59 deg F during the winter months.

Timewise we should not have worried as our coaches materialises later than anticipated and we now take another twisty journey, but this time by road, initially eastwards but then south to Sartené a hill town in the south of the island.  An important activity in this area is wine growing and it makes a welcome place to stop for the evening, although on first sight it appears a little vertiginous.  Dinner in the hotel as the walk even up to the road appears steep.