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British & American Connections with Corsica.

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There is a new association that would like to hear from you! The association 'Corsica Diaspora and friends of Corsica' is aiming to mobilise the talent of the people of Corsica and their friends wherever they are; take a look at their site and if you feel able to contribute, do.

British Connections.

Most guidebooks to Corsica are very good at sensate descriptions and popularizing legends. They tend to struggle with conveying the spirit of the place. One exception is Granite Island by Dorothy Carington - a classic available in Penguin (scheduled to be reissued). Her other books and articles concerning Corsica are also outstanding - she was the first to be given an honorary doctorate of letters by the University of Corsica. The only title currently in print in English is The Dream Hunters of Corsica. She came to live here not long after the War and was a prominent 'friend of Corsica' till she died at the beginning of 2002. She has contributed many articles to Etudes Corses over the years. Her latest book - in French - is on the writings of Napoleon's father and has appeared posthumously..


About 12% (2001) of all Corsican hotel guests are British (after the French, Italians and Germans). They favour the extreme south of the island.


Books about Corsica in English English writers have long been captivated by Corsica, including James 'Corsica' Boswell (biog at, the author of An Account of Corsica and Edward Lear, who wrote the Journal of a Landscape Painter in Corsica. The British have been visiting the island since Horatio Nelson. He had come at the orders of George III, to whom Pasquale Paoli had appealed for help in getting rid of the French. As a result of his campaign with General Stuart, the Anglo-Corsican Kingdom was established 1794-96. Sir Gilbert Elliot was installed as Governor. James Brannan (his wife is from Omessa) has a short article on the subject at Contemporary English language writers are also drawn to Corsica. They include Paul Theroux, for example. If you would like to see the bibliography of over 200 books in English concerning Corsica, click here.

This is the Cascade des Anglais,

a beauty spot much loved by the English pioneer tourists

in the C19 - about ½ an hour's walk from the Col of Vizzavona.


Martello towers: There's a curious link with Britain that followed Nelson's Corsican adventure. One of his fiercest fights was to capture a defence (Genoese-built) tower at Mortella point (the picture shows him doing it!)and manned by only a midshipman and 36 men. Admiralty reports of the event led to the construction of 74 so-called Martello towers at 600 yard intervals along the south coast of England from Folkestone to Eastbourne. It was ironic that Napoleon was to be kept at bay with the use of a Corsican defensive measure. If you are interested to know more about Martello towers, visit an excellent site by Peter Hibbs: Nearly 90 towers were built in Corsica in the C16. Here's another that's sill standing.

  Miomo tower by Jori Lynn


Most are round and are up to 18m in height, with a cistern in the lower part, a living section in the middle and an observation/fighting platform at the top. At ground level were water cisterns. The walls are generally 4m thick. They stand at sea level, up to 350m. If you'd like a free book about 12 of the towers in Haute Corse, the contact CAUE, 2bis Chemin de l'Annonciade, 20200 Bastia (tel 04 95 31 80 90). Ask for 'Batiments de Corse - III: Tours' - it's well illustrated and produced by historic monument architects. An excellent pair of books have been published: Sentiers de Corse - Tours Génoises (40 towers in the south) and tome 2 (48 towers in the north). They are designed for walkers, but are filled with historical, geographic, botanical information as well. It is published by Editions Albiana and the Parc Naturel. If you'd like to see some excellent pictures go to the fotocorsica site.


The tower of Capitello at Porticcio was built in the middle of the C16. In 1791 Napoleon Bonaparte launched himself into local politics, but two years later he was confronting Pasquale Paoli and in May 1793, the Bonaparte house in Ajaccio was pillaged and set afire. Their vines and flocks were destroyed and the family banished. Near the tower, Napoleon saw a band of refugees, carrying a tricolor. He had a presentiment and indeed found his mother and the other children, who had been forced to flee into the maquis. They eventually found their way to Calvi and from there embarked for Toulon. And the rest is history!


An excellent source of further information is an association called, I Torregiani, set up by a José Alessandri and friends. They have already visited 200 sites and are making a complete inventory, sometimes taking as many as 500 photos of a single tower. The mass of information they are gathering is the subject of their database and they are in the process of building a website - for the moment contact them by email or telephone - 04 95 70 95 39.


Nelson: When still a Captain, Horatio Nelson played a key part in the British Navy's Corsican Campaign of 1794 and indeed, he lost the sight of his eye at the Seige of Calvi. This was of course to have a dramatic effect on the outcome of the Battle of Copenhagen seven years later, when he is reported to have said to his flag captain, "You know Foley, I have only one eye - I have a right to be blind sometimes." Thus he was able to deny seeing the orders of his commander -in-chief  and go on to win a resounding victory - that led to him being created Viscount Nelson two motnhs later. And the rest is history! If you like an illustrated fictional account of the Seige of Calvi - I have only one eye, by William Keyser, write to him for a copy (at $18 US): will @

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A nineteenth century pioneer from Britain: British visitors started coming in greater numbers at the end of the nineteenth century. One such was Sir Arthur Southwell, the businessman, an English business pioneer in Corsica (1857-1910). He arrived in Corsica at the age of 20 in 1877 to reorganise his father's contract with the producers of Corsica citrons (citrus medica) for the family business Castell and Brown, London - jam makers and confectioners. At the time they were the main customers of Corsican citrons for their traditional British plum puddings and mince pies. Citrons have been around in the Mediterranean since abour 4000BC.

He fell in love with Corsica (in a Victorian sort of way) on his arrival and indeed spent most of his life on the island, dying in Bastia where he had made his home and he is buried in Ile Rousse in the Balagne. The citron is like a lemon, but is bigger and has a thicker fragrant rind and was prevalent in the manufacture of perfumes and confectionery. You will still find cédrat (the French word for citron, oddly) in jams, and drinks as well as other food products in Corsica today.

chi sumena ventu ne racoglie a timpesta - he who sows the wind harvests the tempest

Arthur Southwell soon became involved in other businesses as he travelled about the island (he was the second person to own a car - a Humber - in Corsica, though he started on horseback). These other ventures included gallic acid, used in ink manufacture and chestnut derived tannin. Corsican chestnut trees are much richer in tannin than mainland ones. One of the tannin factories (at Barchetta) has recently been readapted for glass re-cycling (Volparec is the company).

He exported the iron-rich Orezza water from the mountains of the Castagniccia to England, among other places. This sparkling water was out of production for four years, but came back on the market in 2000 via a new concessionaire (perhaps there's an opportunity for a third millennium Southwell). His business activity contributed strongly to the development of the port of Bastia. He became not only the honorary consul, but also agent for Lloyd's of London. Though no gambler, he went into mining (he called Corsica a 'geological museum') for antimony, copper, copper, arsenic, silver and gold. The island had 21 mines in 1870. Tourism was on his agenda also and in 1904 he became an agent for Thos Cook. He was concerned with improving the export of oranges and lemons to Britain. He was an entrepreneur, par excellence.

(For those who speak French, there is a delightful short book written about him by his daughter, Edith Southwell-Colucci, Arthur Castell-Southwell, un pionnier anglais en corse. It was first published in 1921 in Italian. It has been translated and published by Mediterranea in 2000. She is the author of many Corsican fables.)

Other Victorian visitors: Another was Thomasina Campbell, an intrepid Scots traveller, to whom many attribute the growth of Ajaccio as a tourist destination. She has (a rather mediocre) street named for her in the Quartier des Etrangers, the most fashionable part of the city. She even arranged to have an Anglican church built. It's still there looking incongruous and it's been transformed into a school of dance. She wrote the first English language guidebook to Corsica, which she dedicated to 'those who seek health and pleasure'. Her book reads today almost as though it had been written yesterday, not nearly 150 years ago. This tells you how relatively little the country has changed over the period.


British climbers of the nineteenth century and early twentieth took a great interest in Corsica and if you are interested to know more of their experiences go to a library (eg the Royal Geographic Society) that holds back editions of the Alpine Journal and you'll finds scads of articles by intrepid alpinists such as Douglas William Freshfield, Rev WH Hawker, Francis Fox Tuckett and others writing from the 1870s onwards.


Sir Charles Emmanuel Forsyth-Major, one of the first English 'friends of Corsica' (1842-1923). A doctor and paleontologist, he unearthed many geological specimens, both animal and human. Ultimately, he was here for 16 years and also undertook linguistic studies in an attempt to determine the Corsicans' origins - he discovered that there were 108 different names for the bat in Corsican.


Many Victorians were drawn to the island - in 1893, John Barry published his socio-naturalist 'Studies in Corsica'. He came for a five month stay and a specific botanic purpose, but was so enraptured that he returned for two-and-a-half years, basing himself in Corte. A couple of British ornithologists published articles on the birds of Corsica - MC Wharton in 1876 and J Whitehead in 1885. Bird watchers are still coming.


A correspondent of Corsica Isula, Robert Sharp, has supplied the following about Dr. John Hughes Bennett (1812-1875), who wrote a a chapter in 'Winter in the South of Europe; or, Mentone, the Riviera, Corsica, Sicily, and Biarritz, as Winter Climates' (London, Churchill 1862/65) and an an article on Corsica in Gardeners' Chronicle of 1868 June 20, as well as 'Malaria Fever in Corsica' in The Lancet of August 1868 and Chapter xi of 'Winter and Spring on the Shores of the Mediterranean' (London, Churchill 1870/1875).


"Bennett was professor of the Institute of Medicine in Edinburgh, but his own health deteriorated in the early 1860s. His bad bronchial and throat condition compelled him to winter abroad for some years, both in the south of France and in Corsica. He was a fluent French speaker and was actually a founder of the Paris Medical School in about 1840. His stays in Menton, Nice and Corsica may well have contributed to the late Victorian trend to winter in the increasingly fashionable Cote d'Azur.


His Lancet article was written after returning 'from a third exploration of Corsica, undertaken with a view to ascertain the conditions under which malarious fever is generated in that lovely island. I wished particularly to learn whether its existence in summer may be considered a drawback to Corsica's being regarded one of the winter sanitaria of the Mediterranean. Having been the one to discover Ajaccio, medically, as it were, in 1862, and finding that the efforts I have since incessantly made to direct attention to its special advantages are at last about to be crowned with success ....' As we know, malaria developed on the coast of Corsica after the Romans left and it was not got rid of until the US Army arrived in 1944 and spayed DDT."


It's a place that many painters have visited, quite apart from Lear, there's been Utrillo and Matisse, not forgetting James McNeill Whistler - who could be classified as either British or American, having lived in the former and being born in the latter.


quessu ùn hè qual' voglia sia - he's not a nobody


Of course there are many more recent British visitors. Alan Ross, the poet came in the eighties with his artist friend John Minton and produced a book as a result. There are many British tourists who visit each year as well as others who make special studies of various subjects and follow courses at the university. One example is the late Peter Savigear, who was a political scientist and passionate student of Corsica.


Apart from Dorothy Carrington, author of Granite Island, the finest book on Corsica in English and a travel classic, many august Britons have Corsican connections. A recent British visitor to Bastia has been Beatrice de Cardi, whose forebears were among the founders of the city. Mrs de Cardi travelled the world, mostly with the British Council, came to the Vieux Port where the imposing family house, the Palais Cardi, still stands.


A number of historical figures, important to the history of Corsica, had close connections with Britain or were British - among whom:


Pasquale Paoli: after the fateful Battle of Ponte Nuovo in 1769, Paoli, Corsica's national hero, sought refuge in England, not least helped by James 'Corsica' Boswell and he was pensioned by George III. While he returned to Corsica in triumph in 1790, though at the end of the Anglo-Corsican kingdom in 1796, he again became exiled in England - until his death in 1807. He was buried in St Pancras until his remains were removed to his birthplace Morosaglia in the Castagniccia in 1889. His monument in Westminster Abbey says, "...He nobly defended the cause of liberty against Genoese and French tyranny..." Thus the Father of the Corsican nation was in England for 32 years. He had a long time relationship with Maria Cosway, an Anglo-Italian painter and musician (the wife of Richard Cosway the painter and a favourite of the Prince of Wales). They probably met in 1783 and kept up the friendship until his death. Her daughter was called Louisa Paolina Angelica and Pasquale, known at the time in London as General Paoli, was her godfather. If you read French, have a go at L'Autre Vie de Pascal Paoli, by Paul-Michel Vila (Editions Alain Piazzola, Ajaccio, 1999). Readings of the Cosway-Paoli correspondence were given at Pigna in June 2003.


Maria Cosway (seen left in her self portrait) was born in Italy to English parents in 1760 (her architect brother, George Hadfield, would eventually design Arlington House in Virginia in America). As a young girl in Florence, she showed artistic talent and, on the death of her father, she moved to England and married the celebrated miniature painter and art connoisseur, Richard Cosway in 1781. She was quite a girl and broke many hearts including that of Thomas Jefferson, whom she met in 1786 in Paris. Mrs Cosway prompted Jefferson to write what has become known as the 'head and heart' letter, the bulk of which is a dialogue between his calculating reason (for which he is well known) and his spontaneous emotions (for which he is lesser known). Maria's affairs (romantic certainly but more - who knows?) were well known. Lesser known was her relationship with Pasquale Paoli and their voluminous correspondence is only now coming to light.  Much of it is in Lodi (near Milan) where she established a convent for the education of young women. She is rather an under-rated painter these days, but the Richard and Maria Cosway: A Biography by Gerald Barnett aimed to correct this.


James Boswell: this amazing man took up Corsica's cause and wrote the wonderful book - An Account of Corsica, the Journal of a Tour to that Island and Memoirs of Pascal Paoli, after his visit to the island in 1765. I treasure my copy of the book, which is still an excellent read, nearly 250 years later. Boswell was so identified with the Corsican cause that he was nicknamed Mr Corsica Boswell. Indeed there's a book called Corsica Boswell by Moray McLaren.


King Theodore: This adventurer, originally from Germany, was crowned king at the Alisgiani monastery in the Castagniccia in 1736 by the Corsicans, who were seeking legitimacy, having proclaimed their independence the year before at the 'consulta' in Corti. The constitutional monarchy had only one clause inserted by the new King and that was to allow a guarantee of liberty of conscience, to allow the possibility of eventual Greek and Jewish settlers. He had to disappear discreetly after only eight months on the throne and beating an inglorious retreat across the mountains, because he ran out of funds, his methods of warfare were inimical to the guerrilla fighting habits of the Corsicans, who ultimately deserted him. They derided him by calling the money he minted, the 'Theodorus Rex', the 'Tutto Ramo', or all copper. Boswell described Neuhoff as a man of "abilities and address", but also as being of "strange and unsettled projecting disposition". He died a debtor in London in 1756 (he was buried in St Anne's, Soho - where there's still a plaque erected by Horace Walpole) and perhaps one of the most revealing of Theodore's gestures was enshrined in his will: he left Corsica to his creditors. There are several good biographies of this picaresque fellow in English .

                                          after a picture by Hector Filippi in the ADECEC Museum at Cervione.


Lord Byron: George Gordon, the poet has two connections with Corsica. The first is that he would never had his title had not his father's nephew and heir to the fifth Lord Byron been killed by a cannonball at the Siege of Calvi on 31 July, 1794. He spent a chunk of his life in Italy and lodged among other places at Leghorn, whence he could see Corsica. He made a voyage to Corsica and Sardinia in 1821 aboard his yacht the Mazeppa and you can read of it in a narrative of the voyage, by the ship's Captain Benson, published three years later. A French translation is due out from the Corsican publisher La Marge.


The Casabianca: the French submarine, the Casabianca, went into service in 1931 and had many missions elsewhere, but in 1943 she started to supply Corsica with munitons and agents, including British secret servicemen. A rebuilt version of the conning tower of the ship, broken up in 1947, can be seen as a war memorial in Ajaccio. Captain J l'Herminier J, (translated by Fitzgerald Edward) wrote Casabianca: The secret missions of a famous submarine (London, John Murray).


HMS Saracen: In 1943, Corsica, under heavy Italian occupation, was being considered by the Allies as a possible stepping stone for their invasion of Europe. To gather Italian military intelligence, the British Secret Intelligence Service in Algiers planned the “Frederick” mission to infiltrate a group of their agents into southern Corsica by submarine. Agents Antoine Colonna d'Istria, Charles Simon Andrei and Guy Verstraete (also known as Vernuge), leader of the mission, sailed from Algiers on February 7th at 1800 hours aboard H.M.S. Saracen. After three days sailing, Saracen reached the coast of Corsica and at 2 am on February 10th , the agents left the submarine, aboard two rubber boats at Cala di Giglio on the Bay of Cupabia. They landed at Cala di Giglio on a fine, cold, moonless night. At Vitricella, they set up their listening post and, for two months, the operation ran smoothly as Italian military intelligence was gathered, encrypted and tramsmitted to Algiers. Sadly, in April, they were betrayed by an informant and apprehended. They were tortured and tried by an Italian military tribunal and on July 6th, Andrei and Verstraede were executed by firing squad. D'Istria was condemned in absentia. He came out of hiding after the capitulation of the Italian forces on the island. Verstraede and Andrei were honored posthumously by France, Belgium (Verstraede's birthplace) and England. H.M.S. Saracen, following an impressive record of sunken Axis ships around Corsica, succumbed to depth charges and was scuttled off Bastia on August 14th. Two crew drowned as they abandoned ship. The others were captured and taken as prisoners of war. In December 1994, as part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Corsica, a monument was unveiled to the “Frederick” mission and those associated with it. The granite monument, with the bronze shield of HMS Saracen, is on the beach of Cupabia, overlooking the spot where Verstraete and his group landed fifty years previously. This information was kindly supplied by Anne Corke, whose father served on the ship. If you'd like to contact her, here's her email: anne.corke @

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US connections.

First of all, for Americans who want to experience a cultural immersion into the authenticity of Corsica, Kalliste Tours, based in California, is offering unique and intimate tours designed for groups of 6 to 10 people maximum. The creator and proprietor, France Louvet is a French Native who grew up and lived in Corsica, now resides in California, and she escorts personally each themed tour.

Coca Cola: and you all thought that the effervescent drink was of American origin! Well, think again, because Le Vin Mariani came first. The product was invented by a Corsican, Angelo (Ange-François) Mariani (1838-1914) from Pero-Casevecchie and based on a secret recipe from Peruvian coca. It was known as 'a popular French tonic wine that 'fortifies and refreshes body & brain; restores health & vitality'. It was also described as 'old folks' milk'. It was recommended for hoarseness, 'flu, the pangs of childbirth, nervous prostration, tummy troubles and general debility. The product went on sale in 1870 and lasted until the turn of the century. Mr Mariani was well aware of brand identity and used one poster to promote his product worldwide. Charles Corbin, the French ambassador to Madrid, when asked how Europe could be unified, replied, 'but under the name of Mariani, of course'. There is a new book out that tells his story (in French) - Vin Mariani - l'histoire de la première boisson à la coca, by Jean-Michel and Toussaint Alessandri, published by Stamperia Samarcelli at 190F (or call 06 15 56 67 25). Now watch out Coca-Cola! The founders of Pietra beer in Corsica, Dominique and Armelle Sialelli have established a joint venture company, the Societé des Sodas Corses with a Breton partner to produce Corsica Cola. So the humble Mariani beverage has returned home!

Christopher Columbus: another 'American' of Corsican origin is Christopher Columbus. He was born in Calvi. Many other places have laid claim to him, but his birthplace in the citadel of Calvi, was obscured by the (then occupying) Genoese when they repatriated all the local records from their strongholds in Corsica. You can still the ruins of his house, laid waste by Nelson in the Siege of Calvi in 1794. If you read French, then be convinced by by ex-secret serviceman René Massoni's book, Christophe Colomb: Calvais, Corse, Génois. His family tree is available at

A good source of information on Columbus's Calvi origins is contained in the book by Joseph Chiari - Corsica, Columbus's Isle (Barrie & Rockcliff, London 1960) - he has 36 pages of documentary evidence. In this he also makes the connection with the De Mari family of Cap Corse - a claim also supported by a book to be published (Fayard) by a historian, Albert Mattei - Les racines Corses de Christophe Colomb.

The Francophone website of the Amiral de la Mer Océane Association is a good place to visit as well. It's devoted to Christopher Columbus (

The American Constitution: Pasquale Paoli wrote the Corsican constitution in 1755 and many say that it was one of the inspirations for the US constitution. A useful article on the subject is available at Accedemia Corsa. If you want to know more about Pasquale himself, then visit his site at Pasquale Paoli.

Emigrants from Corsica: Andrew Turnbull, a Scottish-born physician and wealthy member of the East Florida Society in London which was formed in 1766, conceived a plan to bring colonists of Greek, Italian, Minorcan and Turkish origins to Florida in the hopes of cultivating the land. However, he also brought Corsicans. Great Britain had acquired Florida around 1763.

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US cities with Corsican names: there are probably others, but the ones I know about are Corsica, South Dakota; Corsica, Pennsylvania; Corsicana, Texas; Paoli, Pennsylvania; Paoli, Oklahoma; Paoli, Indiana; Paoli, Colorado. St Augustine, Florida was set up by colonists in 1777, 210 of whom were Corsicans. Tell me if there are more, please. The big exodus of Corsicans from Cap Corse to the Americas was in the period 1850-60. The states favoured were Alabama, Virginia and Louisiana. Recently there has come to light at the private museum of Guy Savelli at Corbara, correspondence from his ancestor Jacques Savelli, who was a Louisiana missionary in the C19. He went to Plaquemines, near Point-à-l'Arche and reported tough times (47 out of 60 priests in the diocese died from chest ailments while he was there!).

Corsican associations in the US & Canada: There is an Association des Corses des Etats Unis. It was set up in 1949 and currently has about 300 members. Its president since 1996 is Richard Ortoli, a business lawyer in New York, who was born in Australia and educated in GB. The contact details of branches are: New York (contact Richard Ortoli; Washington DC (contact Jacques Biaggini; Los Angeles (contact Carla Matra-Venezia; in the Pacific North West (; Canada (contact Frederic Letter-Renucci In British Columbia there is the Corsica Pacifica association ( whose website is

Corso-US genealogy: Carla Matra, who has been tracing her own ancestry has set up a site - Geneology Corsica - to help others - Her site is a massive and breathless mine of information. Carla and her husband have a restaurant at Redondo Beach, California - try some Corsican hospitality if your are there. It's called Il Boccaccio.

US Airmen in WWII: Quite a number USAF airmen who were stationed here during the war and their families have contacted Corsica Isula. One example was Tomi Smith Tomkins, who wrote from Arizona to tell of her father, whose plane came down off the coast near Piana in November 1943. After hours of swimming, he was picked up by a farmer. Lt Smith was taken care of and ultimately repatriated. Tomi wanted to contact the family who saved her dad. Corsica Isula was able to find the farmer's son, Dominique Ceccaldi, who was present when the aviator was found. Many people in the village had souvenirs of the event and were delighted to talk about them. Tomi & her husband John visited Piana for Christmas 2002.

There's a book published by Editions Albiana called 'USS Corsica, the island aircraft carrier' by Dominique Taddei all about the USAF in Corsica from December 1943-April 1945. An Edition in English is sought. If you have ideas, do contact Dominique (dtaddei @

In 1944, the 12th Air Force was stationed in Naples and the 57th Bomb Wing stationed at Migliacciaru in Corsica reported to it. The US Army Air Corps had up to 50 000 (yes fifty thousand!) airmen in Corsica

  A really interesting website about Radio Gunner Quentin C Kaiser and his experience in Corsica during WWII has been built by his son Don Kaiser (

It has been said that Joseph Heller's Catch-22 was based on Corsica. He refers to the island of Pianosa, 8 miles south of Elba and Corsica is about 24 miles from there. Heller flew B25s in the USAF 12th Air Force in WWII and the 12th Air Force was based at Solenzara in Corsica, so maybe?

Corsican Command: a first-hand account of clandestine operations in the Western Mediterranean is a book by Patrick Whinney published in London, by Patrick Stephens, in 1989. If the subject interests you, it should be well worth reading.

US Navy in Corsica during WWII: I don't know much on this subject and would like to know more. However, the PTBs were active out of Bastia. Here is one: - it's PT 211. If you want to know more visit WWII PT Boats. These patrol torpedo boats carried out daring raids to keep the shipping lanes clear. They also rescued airmen. George Johansson wrote this to Corsica Isula: "Our Boats (nested) & support facilities (torpedo shops etc) were located there and on the quay was a welcome sight to return to. I can still hear "Mike Fox King" (da da  did did da dit   da dit da ) - the call letters of a U K Navy operating radio station in Corsica ( I was a radioman) FM  radio was new then and allowed secure plain talk  communication & was confined  line of sight between boats, nevertheless “MFK” was reassuring.." George was a crewman on a Boat that made many patros off Italy and France and participated in the invasions of Elba and southern France.

In September 2005, there was a ceremony in Bonifacio to render hommage to five crew of a B25 and a US Navy sailor whose remains had been recently recovered. the memories of Corsicans and Americans are long. It was on 10 May 1944 that Lt Fletcher's B25C5 (42-53371) was reported missing on a flight over southern Corsican crags. Franck Allegrini-Simonetti was the one who identified the the plane and its crew. Jean-Claude Albertini found the wreck and organised the ceremony. The US Navy man died also in 1944 on a beach at Cala Longa. USAF Col from the Joint POW/MIA Command in Hawaii and a journalist Armando Sabene (who had contacted JAPC via the US Embassy in Paris) errected a commemorative plaque.

Douglas Fairbanks Jr served in the US Navy at Bastia as an officer during WWII

Corsican Emigrés to the USA: Many Corsicans who have emigrated to the USA have contacted Corsica Isula. One interesting story concerns Ralph de Butler, whose grandfather participated in the liberation of Corsica in 1943. He was at the time a colonel and later went on to be a general. Ralph has been in the US for 20 years and if you want to know more about his dad, visit his website -

Corso-American exchanges: Southwest Texas State University at San Marcos has established an exchange programme with the Pasquale Paoli University at Corte in Corsica, under which two English students from Corte will pursue their studies in San Marcos and vice versa. As a result of the efforts of Annette Luciani, an exchange has recently been established between Corsican and Navajo shepherds from Arizona. Two Navajos spent a week in Corsica and two from Corsica visited Arizona. If you'd like to know more contact DY Begay, a weaver, or visit her website, or visit, the organisers of the Venaco cheese festival. When the Navajos were in Corsica they established a link with Lana Corsa who make wonderful wool craft products from Corsican wool. Annette Luciani has also started another project to be based at an old Corsican house at Poggio di Venaco where she and her family welcome Americans, especially those who want to establish themselves here ( An American professor has recently been at Princeton - Jean-Jacques Vincessini - a specialist in medieval languages from Corte University. Princetonians came also to Corsica.

US views of Corsica: Irene Virbila, the LA Times's restaurant critic took a trip to Corsica and filed a story on her return. You can read it on line. Or you can take a look at Barry Kerper's article on the Route of the Artisans in the NY Times, by clicking here. Here's another very nice one: it's by Peter Bridges, a retired US Ambassador; the article is called Corsica, with a Collie.

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Puerto Rican and Venezuelan Connections

Puerto Rico & Venezuela: American often means South American or Caribbean to Corsicans. In the 1760s, when France took over the island of Corsica, many Corsicans settled in the southwestern section of Puerto Rico. In the nineteenth century there was a large scale emigration from the island to Puerto Rico and Venezuela. It is said that there are more than 400 000 Corsicans in Puerto Rico today, most of whom have a strong identity as 'Corsicans', but don't speak Corsican, nor even French, and have no idea what their homeland might look like.

So far, 486 Corsican surnames have been traced in Puerto Rico. Many of these 'Americans' made their fortunes in their adoptive countries. When they returned, especially those from Cap Corse, they built imposing new houses, known now as American houses. If you'd like to know more then you could contact the secretary of the Puerto Rican Corsican association - Nydia Lucca in Puerto Rico. The address of the Asociaciòn de Corso de Puerto Rico is Aparto 194433 San Juan, Puerto Rico 00919-4499. The President is José Rivera Tollinche and his email address is and his address is PO Box 34326, Ponce, Puerto Rico 00734-4326. There is a Paris based association A Lea that has established links between Corsica and Puerto Rico.

For example, there was the family Benigni-Molini who left Rogliano in Cap Corse in 1863 and ended up in Yauco, where they became very successful the the production of a coffee named after the Cap Corse village of Luri - on a plantation of 1 200 hectares. Yauco is a place that was almost a Corsican village and many mayors have been of Corsican origin. There's a memorial in Yauco with the inscription, "To the memory of our citizens of Corsican origin, France, who in the C19 became rooted in our village, who have enriched our culture with their traditions and helped our progress with their dedicated work - the municipality of Yauco pays them homage."

There's an interesting new book out that is based on historical research into the Corso-Americans of Puerto Rico - their architecture, lives and fortunes. For Puerto Ricans looking for genealogical links, it could be a good place to start. Los Corsos Americanos - Les Corses-Americains, essais sur leur architecture, leur vie et leur fortune au XIXe siécle. It's published by the Archivo de Arquitectura de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, which you can contact by email.

Elisa Arraiz from Caracas, Venezuela has just published a novel about a Corsican that came to her country in the XIX century - Te Pienso en el Puerto. Her mother's family originated from Pino in Cap Corse and had cocoa plantations, "through the difficult years of the Federation War," she told Corsica Isula.

Corsican Coffee: Yauco Selecto is the latest expression of Puerto Rico's well developed coffee tradition. The history of coffee is closely tied to the history of this Caribbean island. First brought in 1736, the Spanish immigrants who settled on the island relegated coffee to a secondary role for the most part of the 18th century. At the time, the fertile valleys were their main concern and sugar and the crops were the order of the day. During the early part of the 19th century, events in Europe forced a migration of residents from Corsica. They arrived to Puerto Rico and were quickly told that if they wanted to farm, they would have to go to the highlands for all the valleys were taken by the Spanish immigrants. They settled in the Southwestern Mountains of the island, mostly around a town called Yauco. Hard work and determination was rewarded when they brought forth the idea of growing coffee in these high mountains. By the 1860s they dominated the coffee industry on the island and then made two important decisions that would affect the course of their history. Puertorrican coffee, particularly from the Yauco region, received a premium price all over Europe and by the 1890s represented a standard of excellence in production that many other countries sought to imitate. The island's production was the sixth largest in the world, and the fruit of those high lands that the Corsicans brought to life, was the pick of the crop. Yauco Selecto's owners trace their origin to this period.

Here, for example is some information received from a correspondent whose family came from Tomino in Cap Corse, "my father's family farmed coffee in Guayanilla on the "Hacienda Tomino", which my father says extended in a triangular shape from Guayanilla to Pinuelas and Yauco. My father spent part of his life on the plantation before moving...I am told that most of the work was done by slave labor and that it was one of the largest coffee producers in Puerto Rico. I am told that much of this property was sold off over the years. The portion with buildings/structures left on it is owned by a cousin of mine. I recall one structure with a very large stone wheel that was 'imported from France' for the grinding of coffee. My grandfather's name was Ulysis Olivieri."

If you want to take a look at a list of Corsicans who emigrated to Puerto Rico, follow this link, provided by Norma Feliberti.  Another listing is one done by Hector A Negroni, a retired USAF officer searching his roots - follow this link.

In Guyane there is an association of Corsicans: contact Rémy Dal Coletto

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