Bonifacio by day

Boniface II of Lucca founded the city in 828 as a defensive outpost against Saracen attacks on Tuscany;  the fortifications held inviolate for 725 years, when the Moslems under Turgut Reis penetrated the city and massacred all 298 Genoese soldiers.

An idyllic and peaceful place now, we spent the better part of a week in Bonifacio and surroundings.  It is one of the most spectacular locations we have visited.

15 August 2016, iPhone 6 Plus

15 August 2016, iPhone 6 Plus

Bonifacio at night

In your limestone carcass
what memories are contained
that waft between the arches?
———Michel Auzet,

Far Away Love

Bonifacio in the middle of August: party town.  We left  Peregrinus  at its anchorage in Cala di Paragnanu, a mile-and-half west, and arrived by tender.  Beyond the port, what looks like clouds is, in fact, limestone cliffs.  10:48pm, 14 August 2016, iPhone 6 Plus.

Bonifacio in the middle of August: party town.  We left Peregrinus at its anchorage in Cala di Paragnanu, a mile-and-half west, and arrived by tender.  Beyond the port, what looks like clouds is, in fact, limestone cliffs.  10:48pm, 14 August 2016, iPhone 6 Plus.

Daredevils

In the bays of Beaulieu-sur-Mer and of Ajaccio the charts have markings for "zone for alighting of hydroplanes".  No-one seems to much care about them, and  boats of all sorts cross these rather centrally located zones and even (illegally) anchor in them.

It is only when one hears the propeller noise —when these fire-fighting airplanes execute a warning flyby— that one realizes the French are not kidding.  In other countries, one might think a coast guard or police boat might come by and clear the field in advance.  Not in France.  Here, these fearless pilots just plunge in.

Bay of Ajaccio, 10 and 11 August, 2016.  Click for more photos.  In the last photo, two pick up water at the same time, side-by-side, one a bit ahead of the other.

Face to face in Cargèse

In 1669, the Moslems conquered Crete from the Republic of Venice, and immediately focused their attention on the always rebellious Mani peninsula in nearby mainland Greece.  730 Greeks, largely from the town of Vitylo, petitioned the Republic of Genoa for asylum from the Turks, and in 1676 were granted lands in western Corsica, where they prospered, not without rivalry with the locals.

As members of the Greek Byzantine Catholic Church, many of their descendants follow a different rite from traditional catholics.  Their churches and priests have an Orthodox appearance, and rites are in Greek, not Latin, and yet they are under the bishop of Rome.

And so Cargèse has two churches,  facing each other: the Byzantine rite St. Spyridon  (shown as a shadow on this photo) and, across the ravine, the Roman rite Santa Maria Assunta.

Peregrinus  stood at anchor just off camera as the crew visited the rivalling Catholic churches of Cargèse.  We also shared a drink with David, and his family, whom each year sail from the Gulf of St Tropez to Corsica, and were winding up their holiday.  7 August 2016.

Peregrinus stood at anchor just off camera as the crew visited the rivalling Catholic churches of Cargèse.  We also shared a drink with David, and his family, whom each year sail from the Gulf of St Tropez to Corsica, and were winding up their holiday.  7 August 2016.

On Argentella Beach

O blessed shores, where
Love, Liberty and Dreams
have no chains

––– Shelley's memorial plaque,
Casa Magni, Bay of Lerici
 

Peregrinus  anchored off of Argentella Beach, in Baie de Crovani, northwest Corsica.   A camping ground, populated by young and old families from all over Europe, now stands in the grounds of the old mine depot.  Whether staying on a tent, or a large motorhome, they all looked to be having a good time, enjoying the pebble beach.  6 August 2016, iPhone 6 Plus.

Peregrinus anchored off of Argentella Beach, in Baie de Crovani, northwest Corsica.   A camping ground, populated by young and old families from all over Europe, now stands in the grounds of the old mine depot.  Whether staying on a tent, or a large motorhome, they all looked to be having a good time, enjoying the pebble beach.  6 August 2016, iPhone 6 Plus.

Civitas Calvi Semper Fidelis

Ptolomy wrote in the II century that Cæsiæ littus was Corsica's most famous city.  In the VIII century, however, it was destroyed by a Moor raid.  The city was re-built as Calvi by a local warlord in 1276 and it pledged allegiance to the Republic of Genoa in 1278.

And with Genoa the Calvesi stayed through thick and thin, for five centuries.  Even as other parts of Corsica were at times held by Pisa, Aragon, the Pope, France, or the Turk, Calvi resolutely stayed Genoese.  In fact, Calvi was the last Corsican city to yield to the French invasion of 1769 that consolidated Corsica a part of France.

It is because of that long association that from 1421 the city's motto is Forever Loyal City of Calvi.

Calvi from  Peregrinus  at anchor in the Golfe de Calvi.  3 August 2016, iPhone 6 Plus.

Calvi from Peregrinus at anchor in the Golfe de Calvi.  3 August 2016, iPhone 6 Plus.

The walls of Corsica

It was in Saint-Florent that we first realized that in Corsica, traditionally, walls often went unpainted.

With these sort of sunsets, who needs paint?  Click for more photos.

Of races and islands

Many famous sailboat races are run from an accessible harbor to some offshore, isolated island.

 Take, for instance, the Fastnet Race, run since 1925 every two years: from Cowes, racers travel west almost 300 miles to Fastnet Rock, round it, and then back east to Plymouth.  Peregrinus sailed by Fastnet in 2015.

Another well-known race is the Giraglia Cup, an annual event since 1953.  The route, from Saint-Tropez (originally from Toulon), around Giraglia island, to Genoa.  Giraglia island sits one mile offshore Cap Corse, at the very top of Corsica.  

On July 31st, Peregrinus passed Giraglia, with its famous Genoese watchtower (built 1585), on its way west to Saint-Florent. Click for another picture.

Sentinel

The Republic of Genoa built the watchtower of Santa Maria di a Chjapella in 1549, and about 100 nearly identical others, in the north coast of Corsica, so that the people could be alerted of Saracen attacks originating from the Barbary Coast.  When the alarm rang, the Corsicans ran up to hideouts in the mountains.  Those who couldn't escape on time were destined for the slave markets of Tripoli or Istanbul.

Peregrinus  at anchor to the left of the watchtower.  Rade de Santa Maria, between Punta Vecchia and the Finocchiarola Islands, in the north of Corsica.  iPhone 6 Plus, 30 July 2016.

Peregrinus at anchor to the left of the watchtower.  Rade de Santa Maria, between Punta Vecchia and the Finocchiarola Islands, in the north of Corsica.  iPhone 6 Plus, 30 July 2016.

Fish tales

Peregrinus has three times come across submarines going in or out of port.  In the United States, we came across a submarine coming into Norfolk, escorted by machine-gun toting fast boats screaming on the radio every few seconds that anyone within a sizeable radius of them would be summarily shot; we had to get out of the channel.  All US Navy submarines are nuclear, and this one was going very, very fast, leaving a tall water plume behind its vertical stabiliser —and of course energy consumption is not an issue for these fish.  This must be standard practice around these parts, because we heard the screams on the radio a couple of other times as we sailed the lower Chesapeake.

In France, sailing by Toulon, a submarine quietly passed our stern at modest speed.  This was certainly a small (74-metres) Rubis-class nuclear-powered attack sub, as this is their home port, and one hopes the large SSB Triomphant-class don't let themselves be seen.  No visible escort.

When we were at anchor in Le Grazie, near the naval facilities at La Spezia, we saw this Todaro-class submarine, 56-metres, possibly Scirè, leaving port.  Italy, birthplace of Enrico Fermi, abandoned nuclear technology in 1991, so these non-nuclear powered subs have a top surface speed of 12 knots,  and are the top Italian underwater weapons.  Escort?  Nah.  Several local fishermen actually sped right by it.

From  Peregrinus  at anchor, Le Grazie (La Spezia), 20 July 2016, Leica Typ 114.

From Peregrinus at anchor, Le Grazie (La Spezia), 20 July 2016, Leica Typ 114.