When my son was very young – under two years old, in fact, and still in diapers, my former husband and I decided to go to Corsica via India where we had attended a wedding.
Corsica was our destination because we both spoke French and this particular Mediterranean island is the most idyllic spot I had ever visited. But the Corsicans are another story.
Everywhere we went we saw signs stating: “Corse pour les Corses”. In other words, visitors were not welcome, especially if they planned to buy a house and stay. Or start a business. Most Corsicans were on relief, the money coming directly from France so
there was a lot of cafe-sitting.
We found out that some Europeans, especially Belgians (most of whom speak French) had bought houses on the island, but there was talk of fires breaking out unexpectedly and vandalism.
We had booked into a three-star hotel for two weeks in Ajaccio, the capital, while we tried to get a feel for starting a business in the capital. Since we were there for an indefinite time, the owner-manager of the hotel told us she knew of an apartment we could rent. It wasn’t too far out of town. Of course, she and her husband owned the building. We went to see the apartment and since it was quite nice, we agreed to the price and settled in.
To our dismay, we heard tales we could scarcely believe. One Italian woman we met in a cafe told us she had paid for an apartment, that a Corsican lawyer had overseen the details and was present while the papers were signed. She was about to move in, with belongings brought over from Italy, when she found out that the lawyer and his buddies had absconded with her money. She was left with no apartment, no money and no recourse to the law as Corsica was run by a mafia.
When we were looking for a little house, the real estate agent drove us up into the mountains. He opened his glove compartment and very proudly showed us the hand pistol he always carried. He told us that no one went into the interior of the island without a gun and he wanted us to feel safe!
Fig trees abound, as do grape vines and roses, tall oaks cluster on the hillsides, chestnut trees line the boulevards and fish practically jump out of the sea. The island seems to be a paradise.
Well, we decided to give up our plans to stay on the island and gave notice to the owner of the apartment, a very burly woman. I spent several hours cleaning the apartment and ensuring it was in perfect condition. Then she came
by to assess the damages we had made, which were non-existent. She asked for an astronomical sum to pay for “damages” and I told her that there was nothing damaged, offering half for “cleaning”. But she started yelling and refused our offer.
The Corsican woman became so belligerent that we grabbed our son and our bags and ran for the elevator.
She ran after us and managed to squeeze into the elevator with us, yelling and screaming that she would get her husband and all his brothers, her sons and all their friends to catch us and teach us a lesson. My son, who had just celebrated his second birthday eating pastries at a cafe in Ajaccio, was terrified.
The women held up her fists and was about to beat me so I put up my fists, too. Thank goodness the elevator got to the main floor just in time and we ran out, the woman hot on our trail. We had bought a car, so we hopped in and headed straight for the airport, ditched our car and took the first flight out.
I have no plans to return to Corsica. Location:Corsica, France