Monday, April 21, 2014

Introduction & Index of the Corsican Culture

Corsican Crest

Hello, my name is Conner Bayer.  I am a senior at East Stroudsburg University studying Secondary Education with a concentration in Social Studies.  Throughout the next few months, during the 2014 Spring semester, I will be studying the Corsican culture.  Corsica is an island located in the Mediterranean Sea to the southeast of France, to the west of Italy, and to the north of its neighboring island Sardinia.  Corsica is officially a French territory.  The Corsican people are either originally from the island of Corsica or have origins in Corsica.  The Corsican people speak their own language.  Although they are a French territory, their native language has more similarities to the Italian language.  However, due to the influx of French culture in Corsica, almost every Corsican today speaks French.  Only 10% of Corsica's population strictly speak native Corsican.  FUN FACT: Napolean Bonaparte was a Corsican.

(linked to bring you directly to each post!)

- Origins & History of the Corsicans 

- Corsica: Homeland of the Corsicans

- World of the Corsicans

- Corsican Cosmos

- Birds of Corsica

- Corsica's Northern Neighbor & Future Existence

- Corsican Migration & Diaspora

- Corsican National Football (Soccer) Team


Google Books - Caird, L.H. The History of Corsica. T.F. Unwin: Harvard University, 1899.

Corsican Crest:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Origins & History of the Corsicans

        As I briefly mentioned in the “Introduction,” the Corsican people are either originally from the island of Corsica or have origins in CorsicaRomans Corsi was the name of the people who first inhabited the island.  The Romans Corsi have roots in both the Nuragic and Torrean civilizations.  The Nuragic civilization dates back to 18th century B.C. based out of the island of Sardinia, Corsica’s northern neighbor.  The Torrean civilization is extremely similar to the Nuragic civilization except the Torreans are based out of Corsica rather than Sardinia.  Some scholars believe the two civilizations were the same. 
Corsica's original tribes
            Modern day Corsicans are also believed to have Greek and Roman ties.  The island of Corsica was broken down into twelve tribes during its origins such as: Belatones, Cervini, Cilebenses, Cumanenses, Lucinini, Macrini, Opini, Subasani, Sumbri, Tarabeni, Titiani, and Venacini. 

Pasquale Paoli, Corsican Patriot
            While the date of occupation is unknown, Corsica at one point was a province of the Roman Empire.  When the Roman Empire fell, the island of Corsica became populated by several groups of people.  However in 1347, the Republic of Genoa (which is currently a part of Italy) took possession over Corsica up until 1729, when a revolution for independence occurred.  From 1729-1755, the Corsican Revolution took place against Genoa.  Finally in 1755, the Corsican Republic was established as an independent, sovereign state.  Pasquale Paoli was viewed as a patriot and took up the leadership role in Corsica’s newly formed republic.  Paoli also established the nation’s official language as Italian and created its Constitution.  Unfortunately, independence did not last as Corsica could not fend off Genoa.  The island was sold to France in 1764.  Corsica remains a French territory today. 

File:Corsican nationalism.jpg
Corsican Nationalists cross out French names on road signs in Corsica.
          During World War II, Corsica fell under the Nazi’s Vichy France regime.  During this time, fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini claimed the island of Corsica belonged to Italy.  Today, Corsica has very nationalistic ideals as it pushes for self-government and the security of the island’s culture.  In 2001, France granted Corsica limited autonomy.       

Google Books - Caird, L.H. The History of Corsica. T.F. Unwin: Harvard University, 1899.


Pasquale Paoli, Corsican Patriot:
Corsica's original tribes:
Corsican Nationalists cross out French names on road signs in Corsica:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Corsica: Homeland of the Corsicans

Map of France.
Corsica highlighted in
            The Corsican homeland is on the island of Corsica to the Southeast of France located in the Mediterranean Sea.  Corsica has a tremendously diverse landscape.  The island is mountainous with beautiful coastlines, and has an interior decorated with pine trees. 
Men hiking the GR20.
            Corsica is home to one of the world’s most famous hiking trails called the GR20.  The trail takes approximately fifteen days to travel.  The hike begins in the Northern commune of Calenzana, and ends in the Southern commune of Conza.  The hike has its own website that discusses the experience in more detail.  The hike is also a part of the Parc Naturel Régional de Corse (Regional Natural Park of Corsica). 
File:Mouflon in zoo.jpg
            The Parc Naturel Régional de Corse was established in 1972 to preserve the island’s beautiful natural habitat.  The island of Corsica is also home to several endangered animal species which the National Park protects including the mouflon, which is a type of sheep [pictured to the left], and the Corsican red deer. 
Corse region relief location map.jpg
Topographical view of The Isle of Beauty
            “Natural areas cover 83% of the Corsican territory. The quality and the diversity of these natural places and landscapes make the island one of the last European natural reserves (via Viva Corsica).”  Corsica is often referred to as The Isle of Beauty.    

Dillon, Paddy. GR20: Corsica: The High Level Route. Cicerone
Press Limited, 2012.    
Topographical view of The Isle of Beauty:
Men hiking the GR20:

Friday, April 18, 2014

World of the Corsicans

            Nowadays, Corsicans (also known as Corse) make a living quite differently than they did in the past.  Originally, the Corse were herdsmen and lived a life solely based off of agriculture.  “A herdsman is defined as a person who breeds, rears, or cares for cattle or other livestock in the herd.”  The Corse also consider themselves as highlanders.          
            Today, Corsica is a tourist haven.  Although some Corsicans remain herdsmen, a high percentage of the people make a living off of the island’s tourism.  Unfortunately, the economy and the ability to find a job and make a living in Corsica have become quite bad, especially for the young generation of people.  However, this young generation of Corse are persevering through the difficult times and attempting to turn around, and improve Corsica’s living situation.
            According to Corsica’s official website, business and merchant services (such as food, hotels, health, etc.) make up half of the island’s employment.  Agriculture and industry make up another 25%, while non-merchant services such as education, etc. make up the final 25% of employment. 
            The original inhabitants of Corsica only make up about half of the island’s population while the other half come from France, and countries in Northern Africa.           
The beauty of Corsica is one of the major reasons for Corsican tourism.  


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Corsican Cosmos

Corsican church with a tree in front.

A cosmo is a belief about the world.  "Never sleep under a walnut tree."  This is a saying in Corsica and a Corsican cosmo.  According to, each Corsican village has its own church, and in front of each of these churches is some type of tree.  The acceptable types of trees for the front of these churches are chestnut trees, olive trees, oak trees and even lime trees, however walnut trees are forbidden because Corsicans view these walnut trees as a "negative sign."

Corsican "Steghe"

Other Corsican beliefs about the world from include:

- reading the future in eggs
- sacrificing lambs
- belief in wicked spirits
- belief in witches (Steghe) with the ability of invisibility that would take the looks of older ladies and break into houses during the night to drink children's blood   
- belief in invisible spirits (Acciatori) that would crack people's skulls with axes when they came around corners
- religious superstitions

For more on Corsican cultural cosmos watch this video linked below:

***This video is about Mazzeri - Shaman from Corsica also known as "Makers of Death"***
(WARNING: video may be frightening for some) - 


Church -
Steghe - 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Birds of Corsica

Corsican Nuthatch
            There are approximately 345 bird species on the island of Corsica.  Seven of these species are listed under the "globally threatened" category.  Out of these birds, one species is endemic or native to the island and is not found anywhere else in the world!  This species is the Corsican Nuthatch found in Corsica's vast pine forests.  Unfortunately, this bird's existence is listed under the 'vulnerable' category.  You can hear the Corsican Nuthatch's call at this link:
A Red Kite, one of Corsica's spectacular birds, in flight.
            If you visit under the category or Corsica and Sardinia, the website portrays a vast list of birds and other wildlife that were seen when visiting the two islands in April of 2008.  It is incredible to see the number of beautiful birds a person can discover when exploring the natural island of Corsica. 
            Natives of Corsica have some superstitious beliefs about their birds.  On, the website identifies some of these values and beliefs.  To quote the website directly, “they believed in omens/signs coming from a bird’s flight, the appearance of the sky and the behavior of animals.  They saw the ‘Spiriti’ (spirits) marching in procession – reciting the rosary at death’s door, heard the drum beats announcing an approaching death…”  In addition, according to another website (, if a bird taps at a closed window, it is thought to be a spirit of a dead person, seeking to communicate with his relatives; to remind them, perhaps of a duty neglected or an injury unavenged."
Golden Eagle flying through the mountainous terrain of Corsica.
Birds are spectacular creatures. However, in Corsica, the beliefs about them are not always positive, and often relate to the spiritual world.  
Furthermore, due to Corsica being an island, these birds are different from the bird species of mainland Europe.  For example, "Songbirds such as the Blackbird have a song that's distinct from that of related European species, and the birds' normal habitats are in many instances extended in some way." (via Corsica by: David Abram).    

Front Cover
Cover of David Abram's book via Google Books
Google Books - Abram, David. Corsica.  Rough Guides, 2003.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Corsica's Northern Neighbor & Future Existence

Nationalist Resistance in the streets of Corsica.

Since France acquired Corsica from Genoa in 1764, the European country and its territory have grown to have a shaky relationship. Though France has granted Corsica with limited autonomy in 2001, Corsican nationalists are still pushing to be a fully independent, sovereign nation with no direct affiliation with France. Due to Corsica being a French territory the French people have had a large impact on Corsican resources, industry and economy despite the autonomy the island has been given. This has not settled well for the native Corsican people. 

Tension has grown in Corsica in regards to their French neighbors in the North. A Corsican Nationalist movement has been in effect since the middle of the 20th century as native Corsican people have pushed for complete independence and sole recognition as a sovereign state. This movement originally began in 1952. The People of Corsica had begun to grow tired of France’s say in their economic affairs along with France’s mistreatment of the island in respect to infrastructure and economy. However, the movement took a turn when the focus switched from meeting economic demands to an organized, radical movement that was not afraid to utilize violence in order to get the cultural recognition they believed and still believe they deserve. 

Armed members of the Corsican Nationalist Movement.
Though I mentioned the limited autonomy Corsica currently has, the Native Corsican people are still vying for full autonomy. Though the violence has minimized, there are still nationalists in Corsica fighting every day for what they believe is their natural and cultural right. The question remains: Will Corsica ever become completely independent from France or will their culture slowly die out and fade into France’s customs? 


 Academic Journal
 Nationalism on the Island: The Legitimacy of Corsican Nationalist Movements in Question 
 By: Stéphanie Vieille, University of Western Ontario 
 Department of Political Science, PhD Candidate

Monday, April 14, 2014

Corsican Migrations & Diaspora

There is a website called that helps Corsicans find other Corsicans around the world.  According to the website, Corsican people have dispersed to over 83 countries and 599 cities.  The top three cities on the website for Corsican diaspora are Paris and Marseille [considered “The First Corsican City of the World"] in France, and New York City.  It is estimated that 1.5 million Corsicans have left the native island of Corsica, however most of this emigration has been to France. 
            When Corsicans first began to disperse from Corsica, the major destinations included mainland France, and South America.  The main reason for Corsican diaspora was to leave behind the island’s poverty, and move to an economically better country where they can better their lives.  Some of the other reasons for these migrations included changes in European economics and culture, the second industrial revolution and agricultural issues including crop failure and drought.
File:Yauco Coffee Plantation.gif
Corsican Coffee Plantation in Yauco, Puerto Rico.  
      A popular destination for Corsicans who left their homes was the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico.  One of the major reasons for choosing Puerto Rico was the island’s opportunities and because of the similar geographical features from island to island.  Corsicans tended to settle in Puerto Rico’s mountainous southwest.  The Corsican settlers and their descendants became prominent leaders in coffee cultivation, literature, politics, and education in Puerto Rico.  The town of Yauco is today nicknamed “Corsican Town.”  Similar to their diaspora to Puerto Rico, Corsicans also thrived in Venezuela where they helped develop the cocoa industry and were prominent leaders in art, commerce, and medicine. 

Corsican Coffee Plantation in Yauco, Puerto Rico:


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Corsica National Football (Soccer) Team

Since Corsica is not officially a country, it also does not officially have a national football team.  However, though it is not recognized by FIFA (Federation of International Football Associations) or UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), Corsica does have a national squad.  Football, or what we in America call Soccer, is the most popular sport in both the world and in Europe.  Since Corsica's national football team was founded in 1967, the French territory has only played in six games against other countries.  Corsica's national team colors are black and white.    

In 1967, Corsica faced France in Marseille and came out on the winning end capturing a 2-0 victory.  In 1998, Corsica was defeated by the African nation of Cameroon by the final score of 1-0.  In 2009, Corsica tied Congo 1-1.  In 2010, during the Corsica Football Cup, Corsica beat Brittany 2-0 and were also winners of a game versus Gabon that was decided by penalty kicks.  This tournament featured host nation Corsica along with Brittany, Gabon and Togo.  Corsica were the winners of the tournament.  Corsica's most recent match was in 2011 against Bulgaria as they defeated the European side 1-0.  The cities of Ajaccio and Bastia have been host to every one of Corsica's home games during the national teams existence.

Corsica vs. Bulgaria in 2011 - (Source:

Jean Baptiste-Pierazzi, midfielder for the Corsican national football team, currently plays for the San Jose Earthquakes from the United States of America's Major League Soccer (MLS) western conference.    

Jean Baptiste-Pierazzi (left) of the Corsican National Football team
playing for the San Jose Earthquakes in a MLS match vs. the
Los Angeles Galaxy.
Additionally, two club teams from Corsica are beginning to gain prominence and recognition in France's premier football league (Ligue 1).  These squads, AC Ajaccio and SC Bastia have the fate of Corsican football in their hands.  According to When Saturday Comes, an online football magazine, "if Corsican football is to progress, then both teams must stay in the top division, and both must work on their infrastructure at the grass-roots level."  As seen in the pictures below, both of the two teams' "logos" feature the Corsican crest.  

AC Ajaccio
SC Bastia
AC Ajaccio -
SC Bastia -


Wednesday, April 9, 2014



This website has a plethora of great information on the island of Corsica, and its culture.  On the website's front page, it has posts related to Corsica.  There are several sections on the website one can view when visiting the website.  These sections include home, commentary, culture, events/festivals, gastronomy, heritage, lifestyle and nature.  

This website deals mostly with accommodations and tourism in Corsica.  When researching the "World of the Corsicans," this website gave me great information on how Corsica's people make a living on a daily basis. also offered information on the island's beauteous natural habitat and also discussed some of the Corsican people's traditions and cultural views.  

This website was helpful, however I was originally hoping it would be more helpful.  This webpage helped get a bigger picture of the dispersion of Corsican people around the world, and had numerical statistics on where Corsican people live, what countries and cities are home to the most Corsicans, and even had a directory of Corsican people who registered on the website.  While all of this was pertinent information during my research, I was hoping this website is where I would be able to connect with native Corsican people and find someone to interview.  However, every person I tried to contact in the directory did not respond to my request.  I sent many emails to Corsican people who live in the tri-state area (Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York), but once again fell short of getting any responses.      


Abram, David. Corsica.  Rough Guides, 2003. 

While this book was only a preview on Google Books, it offered a great deal of valuable information.  This preview offered the basics in Corsica such as getting around, accommodations, safety, holidays, and more.  This book also provided a guide of many areas in Corsica, and this section included information about regions all across Corsica and even Corsican birds.  

Caird, L.H. The History of Corsica. T.F. Unwin: Harvard University, 1899.   

This E-book was free to read on Google Books.  Within this book, I found a lot of key information on Corsica's past prior to the 20th century.  The book discussed the island's early history, the annexation of the island by the Genoa Republic, the Corsican revolution, France's acquisition of Corsica, and even important people such as Pasquale Paoli.  

Dillon, Paddy. GR20: Corsica: The High Level Route. Cicerone Press Limited, 2012.  

Similar to David Abram's book, this Google Book was also a preview.  However, the textual information given within the preview was complementary to my online research about tourism in Corsica, especially in regards to the GR20 hike.  The book entails what hikers should be prepared for, what items they will need on their adventure, and other informing notes on what to expect when hiking across the beautiful island of Corsica.