Calvi is a commune in the Haute-Corse department of France
on the island of Corsica.
It is the chief city of the Canton of Calvi, which contains besides itself
one other commune, Lumio.
Calvi is also the capital of the Arrondissement of Calvi, which contains,
beside the Canton of Calvi, three other cantons: L'Île-Rousse, Belgodère and Calenzana.
There is a legend that Christopher Columbus was from Calvi,
which at the time was part of the Genoese empire.
Because the often subversive elements of the island gave its inhabitants
a bad reputation, he would have masked his exact heritage.
The 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment (2 REP) of the French Foreign Legion
is based in Calvi, housed in its citadel.
read full wikipedia reference about Calvi, France
Seen from the water, CALVI
is a beautiful spectacle, with its three immense bastions topped
by a crest of ochre buildings, sharply defined against a hazy
backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Twenty kilometres west along
the coast from L'Île Rousse, the town began as a fishing
port on the site of the present-day ville basse below the citadel,
and remained just a cluster of houses and fishing shacks until
the Pisans conquered the island in the tenth century. Not until
the arrival of the Genoese, however, did the town become a stronghold
when, in 1268, Giovaninello de Loreto, a Corsican nobleman, built
a huge citadel on the windswept rock overlooking the port and
named it Calvi. A fleet commanded by Nelson launched a brutal
two-month attack on the town in 1793, when Nelson lost his eye;
he left saying he hoped never to see the place again.
The French concentrated
on developing Ajaccio and Bastia during the nineteenth
century, and Calvi became primarily a military base, used as
a point for smuggling arms to the mainland in World War II. A
hang out for European glitterati in the 1950s, the town these
days has the ambience of a slightly kitsch Côte d'Azur
resort, whose glamorous marina, souvenir shops and fussy boutiques
jar with the down-to-earth villages of its rural hinterland.
It's also an important base for the French Foreign Legion, and
immaculately uniformed legionnaires are a common sight around
the bars lining avenue de la République .
Social life in Calvi focuses
on the restaurants and cafés of the quai Landry , a spacious
seafront walkway linking the marina and the port. This is the
best place to get the feel of the town, but as far as sights
go there's not a lot to the ville basse. At the far end of the
quay, under the shadow of the citadel, stands the sturdy Tour
du Sel , a medieval lookout post once used to store imported
salt. If you strike up through the narrow passageways off quai
Landry, you'll come to rue Clemenceau , where restaurants and
souvenir shops are packed into every available space. In a small
square giving onto the street stands the pink-painted Ste-Marie-Majeure
, built in 1774, whose spindly bell tower rises elegantly above
the cafés on the quay but whose interior contains nothing
of interest. From the church's flank, a flight of steps connects
with boulevard Wilson , a wide modern high street which rises
to place Christophe-Colomb , point of entry for the ville haute
, or citadel.
Beyond the ancient gateway
to the citadel, with its inscription of the town's motto, you
come immediately to the enormous Caserne Sampiero , formerly
the governor's palace. Built in the thirteenth century, when
the great round tower was used as a dungeon, the castle was recently
restored and is currently used for military purposes, and therefore
closed to the public. The best way of seeing the rest of the
citadel is to follow the ramparts, which connect the three immense
bastions. From each bastion the views across the sea, the Balagne
and the Cinto Massif are magnificent.
Within the walls the houses
are tightly packed along tortuous stairways and narrow passages
that converge on the diminutive place d'Armes. Dominating the
square is the Cathédrale St-Jean-Baptiste , set at the
highest point of the promontory and sitting uncomfortably amid
the ramshackle buildings. This chunky ochre edifice was founded
in the thirteenth century, but was partly destroyed during the
Turkish siege of 1553 and then suffered extensive damage twelve
years later, when the powder magazine in the governor's palace
exploded. It was rebuilt in the form of a Greek cross, as you
see today. The church's great treasure is the Christ des Miracles
, housed in the chapel on the right of the choir; this crucifix
was brandished at marauding Turks during the siege of 1553, an
act which reputedly saved the day.
To the north of place d'Armes
in rue de Fil stands the shell of the building that Calvi believes
was Christopher Columbus's birthplace , as the plaque on the
wall states, but the claim rides on pretty tenuous, circumstantial
evidence. The house itself was destroyed by Nelson's troops during
the siege of 1794, but as recompense a statue was erected on
May 20, 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus's "discovery"
of America; his alleged birthday, October 12, is now a public
holiday in Calvi.
Calvi's outstanding beach
sweeps right round the bay from the end of quai Landry, but most
of the first kilometre or so is owned by bars which rent out
sun loungers for a hefty price. To avoid these, follow the track
behind the sand which will bring you to the start of a more secluded
stretch. The sea might not be as sparklingly clear as at many
other Corsican beaches, but it's warm, shallow and free of rocks.
You can also sunbathe, and swim off the rocks, at the foot of
the citadel, which have the added attraction of fine views across
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