We entered the town of Bonifacio at the southern tip of Corsica through the magnificent, fjord-like passage. Although Corsica is sometimes called Granite Island because the mountainous island is entirely granite in its geology, the single exception is Bonifacio at the very southern tip facing Sardinia. Having just come from Sardinia, the geology and landscape were strikingly different. Sardinia’s fertile green plains give way to Corsica’s rugged, craggy mountains. There are snow-covered mountains throughout the summer, and the highest peak is over 10,000 feet.
Our morning was leisurely. We boarded coaches for a drive to the picturesque village of Sartène. The drive took us through the machair vegetation and the rich green of the various plants that compete for soil with the massive outcroppings of granite. The village is a picturesque mélange of stone houses and shops in a maze of tiny alleys and streets that seem always climbing up or down. The single level place is the picturesque main plaza. We arrived at the right time as the great tourist season had not yet begun, and Sartène was not crowded. On our return to Sea Cloud, we passed by the lion of Corsica, a massive granitic rock that looks like a large lion at rest.
After lunch, we took the small train with open cars to the towering pinnacle of the fortress village of Bonifacio. According to our guide Hans, the name of the city is from a noble Tuscan family that settled here. Bonifacio sits atop the only limestone cliffs in all of Corsica and looks towards Sardinia about 12 kilometers away. It is the ancestral home of the Bonaparte family. Napoleon’s ancestors were likely Genovese and spelled the family name Buonaparte, in the Italian manner. Napoleon was born in Ajaccio on the northwest of the island. The people of Bonifacio speak a dialect of Corsican that is very different from Corsican, which is different from French. We walked the small cobble streets and observed the quaint shops. Many sold knives that were stilettos and inscribed with the word “vendetta.”
Cocktails followed on arrival back home, and dinner was served in the dining room at 7:30 p.m. The weather changed from hot to quite cool, which was refreshing. Mario serenaded us with his delightful piano music as we enjoyed another great dinner. We watched the great Irving Johnson 1929 film entitled Around Cape Horn, and we were thankful that we did not have those seas!