Choosing to come to Corsica, or more specially to Balagne, is not only a choice to get away from the routine for a few days, it is also an opportunity to meet the locals, find out about their culture and their traditions which are still very much alive today. These traditions are just a normal part of everyday life for the local people of Balagne, from Calvi to Ile-Rousse, and as far as the most remote villages of the Balagne countryside. Here, it is all about authenticity, not folklore. The local people do not impose their ancient traditions, such as religious representations, on visitors, Rather, they invite them to share this exceptionally vibrant culture.
Now let’s set off to discover the villages of Balagne. There are numerous opportunities to get together and have a good time with the many events throughout the year. For example, every year for the Saint Jean celebration or at Christmas, the local people bring to life the ancient practice of children who shouted “A u Rocchiu” in the streets! This was an invitation for people to bring a piece of wood. Today, everyone contributes to this tradition, at the village square, just in front of the church. Then, at nightfall, the huge logs are lit and the fire is enjoyed by people of all generations. This is a very unique moment to share with the local people and everyone is welcome to participate. Small groups gather to talk about the history of the village, or just to discuss the happenings throughout the village today. Finally, when the flames die down, families go back home for some quality family time.
The most enjoyable moments are to be had during the village celebrations in the summer season. The 15th August for the public holiday or the 16th August for the Saint Roch celebration are just two examples of events that the local people never miss out on. These are the perfect opportunities to get together in their hometown with friends or family. At the village square, the music fills the air and people of all generations are invited to join in the festivities which combine modernity and tradition. Often the men are to be found at the bar, the women chatting together, the children running around and playing, and finally the teenagers just having a great time. In fact, the atmosphere is so lively that it is quite common to hear a few paghjelle. The villages of Palasca, Monticello, or even Feliceto, really know how to make these evenings unforgettable.
Other special events which the locals really love are the traditional processions. Catholic fervour is so present here that it has become a tradition. Every village, every town and every hamlet celebrates its Patron Saint. It is an opportunity to open the doors to the churches and chapels and walk in the footsteps of past generations. The blessing of oranges in Aregno, the Granitula in Calvi, the San Parteo in Olmi-Cappella, not to mention the Saint Erasme in Ile-Rousse or the Sainte Marie in Calvi are just some of the reasons to come and visit Balagne.
The brotherhoods of Balagne
During the processions, you will hear the voices of the brotherhoods. In fact, in Balagne there are still a large number of brotherhoods today, such as the Sant’Antone Abbate in Speloncato and Lumio, the Madunnuccia di a Misericorda in Ile-Rousse, or the Saint Erasme and Saint Antoine in Calvi. They are always present for the special moments in the lives of the local people, and today bear witness to the symbolic attachment to a former identity and encourage spirituality. Their chants will take you deep into the soul of Corsica, way beyond religion.