Thursday, July 10th
Calvi has been called the Corsican port most like the French Riviera. The center is sunny, with palm trees and quaint shops. On the south side is a long crescent of sandy beach which offers water sports, swimming, and beautiful views back toward the town and Citadel. Jet-setters have long been attracted to Calvi, among them: the Duchess of Windsor, the honey-mooning Grace and Rainier, Taylor and Burton, Rod Stewart, Valentino, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis.
La Marine is a palm-lined quai on the waterfront, with many restaurants and cafes. Up a few steps and you're on Rue Clemenceau, the winding main street of Calvi. Today, its boutiques were bustling with activity. We searched high and low for an internet café. Many shopkeepers either didn't know what it was, or didn't understand our French. However, we were persistent and finally located one. Our emails dispatched, we headed for the Citadel.
The Citadel is entered by way of Place Christophe Colomb, named for the great explorer who is said by some to be a native son. (Most historians would disagree.) The old fortified village within never evolved into a mass of tourist shops as had many others throughout Europe. You'll find a couple shops, a restaurant, a radio station, the Governor's Palace and the oratory of St-Antoine. On the highest point of the rock stands the Cathedrale Saint-Jean Baptiste, built in the 13th century and rebuilt in 1570 after damage from an explosion.
There were few people walking through the narrow, winding streets. Although it was July, almost the peak of the tourist season, the old town was amazingly quiet and peaceful. While Al was off on a photographic mission, I sat virtually alone under a tree. Few passed, even though I was next to one of the Citadel's notable attractions. This is the house of Laurent Giubega, a name which would be unknown to history had he not been Napoleon's godfather and took the future emperor into his home when he was on the run from other Corsicans in 1793.
From the Citadel, one has a panoramic view of the harbor, the Gulf of Calvi, and the Mediterranean. And directly below is the ferry landing. Suddenly, in the late afternoon, the quai was filled with automobiles, busses and pedestrians. Calvi is the main ferry port on the northwest coast of Corsica and these people were awaiting a boat to Marseille, Nice, L'ile-Rousse, Sardinia, wherever. Soon a large ferry docked, the entire mob disappeared inside, and the landing was once again empty.
We returned to the town and explored the three streets above Rue Clemenceau. The shops here cater more to locals than to tourists. There are few boutiques. These shops sell the practical goods needed in one's daily life. Here we found the Hôtel de Ville, and the Church of Saint Marie Majeure, but neither was open for viewing.
Back on the Star Clipper, we were wined and dined at the Captain's Dinner. Traditionally, this is the best meal of the cruise,
and the captain toasts the passengers. The crew parades through the mess with Baked Alaska and then sings "We Are the World," each
one holding aloft a tiny flag of his own country. It's a lot of fun and gives the passengers a wonderful memory of the cruise.