Tuesday, October 11, 2011


The Casinca – the villages

The guide books tell us that in the 1200s, when the bishops got fed-up with the mosquito-ridden coastal plain (these pests are now, thankfully, virtually eradicated from these parts) they adjourned from La Canonica (see last post) to nearby Vescovato further inland and away from the swamps.

We went to four villages in the Casinca, of which Vescovato was the first. I reckon Vescovato is the prettiest. We took coffee in the charming and spacious square, then went exploring. To reach the Church of San Martino, practically in the middle of the village and at its highest point, we negotiated numerous enticing stairways and passages, each one of which made us think “Is this someone’s back garden we’re entering?” We weren’t.

Cars just don’t belong in Vescovato (illustrated). There are no roads in the heart of the village and if the people who live in its core possess vehicles, I guess they have to be stored somewhere other than outside their homes.

The other villages we visited were Venzolasca (a little higher up the nearby mountain), Loreto di Casinca (even higher, and a very scary drive indeed to reach it) and Castellare di Casinca (mercifully close to the main East Coast Road).

Loreto probably had the best views of the rest of the Casinca – it’s worth the drive just for that. In Venzolasca, apparently, one can still meet old gents wearing the island’s traditional black corduroy outfits and gunbelts - though we didn’t see any. At Castellare, there’s an ancient Pisan Church built in the 10th Century and named after St Pancrace. I presume he’s the same chap that the London Station serving Britain’s north East is named after.

So if you are asked in a pub quiz which London Station has a connection with Corsica, the answer is probably St Pancras. He is the patron saint of Corsican bandits. And remember, you learned about this right here in my blog.

And the church at St Pancras was where Pascal Paoli was buried - not, as sometimes reported, in Westminster Abbey, where there is however a plaque to his memory.

Interesting point Alison - I hadn't made that connection.
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