The Corsican people are generous, free-spirited and like to enjoy themselves. Engrained in the local culture of Corsica are a variety of festivals and events going on all year-round, in addition to most of the island’s villages individually hosting a festival to celebrate their particular patron saint. There are also local craft fairs, open- air concerts and religious and historical ceremonies with dancing, singing and sporting events. Popular events include:
Tour de Corse – this is a car rally that was first held on the island of Corsica in 1956, in the early days it was run around the island but nowadays only uses roads around Ajaccio. It is usually held in October.
Festiventu – otherwise known as ‘the festival of wind’, this festival takes place each year in Calvi, at the end of October. It is an ecological festival and aims to make people aware of the environment.
A Fiera di U Casgiu – this event aims to promote Corsica’s pastoral life and rural cheese-making industry. The fair has exhibitions, training courses, tastings, artisan stands and a regional competition with prizes for cheese-makers using traditional methods.
Calvi Jazz Festival is held in June and marks the start of summer. It attracts many big names from the jazz scene. Every evening there is a different theme and the streets of Calvi vibrate with sound.
Also held in Calvi, Calvi on the rocks isheld in July. This open-air music festival attracts an international audience. Set on the lively beach, citadel and harbour of Calvi, it brings together electronic music and digital art. Festivoce is set in and around Pigna, this is a celebration of more traditional Corsican music and arts, including polyphonic concerts, and runs from June to September.
Historical and Religious events
Fete De La Saint Erasme is held on the 2nd June and is a religious event in honour of the patron saint of fishermen taking place in several fishing ports around Corsica although it is particularly important in Ajaccio. A procession passes through the streets to the sea where a priest blesses the boats. Corsica celebrates Bastille Day, along with the rest of France, on the 14th July. It commemorates the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison in the 17th century with military parades and firework displays. Fete de l’assomption is a religious festival which celebrates the assumption of the Virgin Mary’s body and soul into heaven; it also marks the end of the summer holidays for many people.
A history of Corsica
Best known as the historic birthplace of famous French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, Corsica has a distinctive culture moulded by centuries of invasion and occupation. Its location has given it strategic appeal and attracted the attention of major European powers meaning it has always struggled for independence and autonomy.
Since the Stone Age, the island was occupied by the Phoeniciansand the Greeks, followed by the Carthaginians and the Etruscans in the 3rd century BC. A more stable Roman rule followed for more than seven centuries before power then passed to the Byzantine Empire, followed by the Arabs and the Lombards. From the 11th-13th centuries, Corsica was ruled by the Italian city-state of Pisa then superseded by its arch rival Genoa.
Corsica declared its independence in 1755 but this was short-lived, the island was purchased by France soon after and they have ruled relatively undisturbed for more than three centuries. In 2001 Corsica was granted the right to have the Corsican language taught in schools. Corsicans are proud of their heritage and have a deep Nationalist sentiment.