Corsicans are generally laid-back and easy going, they appreciate friendliness and patience: be sure to greet people with “Monsieur”, “Madame” or “Mademoiselle” and try not to get irritated by any hold ups you may have such as roads being blocked by two drivers having a chat.
Corsica is an island of culture with an abundance of music, art and cultural festivals which are organised by volunteers passionate about their chosen interest. Many of the island’s villages also hold a fete or festival to celebrate its local crafts and produce as well as religious or historical events. For more details see ‘Festivals and Events’.
Corsica’s unique polyphonic music is haunting and has undergone a revival in recent years. Groups of three or four perform either a cappella or accompanied by percussion, flutes or stringed instruments. Each of the singers performs with a hand over one ear to prevent them from being distracted by the singer next to them as each voice has a distinct role: the first provides the melody, the second the bass and the third has greater freedom to improvise but is much higher pitched.
The rich and chequered history of Corsica manifests itself around every corner with some fascinating architecture. Monuments, citadels, watchtowers and museums scattered all over the island bear witness to the ever-changing and often turbulent past of this multi-cultural island. Of particular note are the Baroque style churches in la Balagne region and the 60 Genoese watchtowers that punctuate the coastline.
French is Corsica's official and working language, although many Corsicans are bilingual or trilingual, speaking Italian and the native Corsican language (Corsu), which you will regularly hear in Corsica's more rural areas.
Corsica is predominantly Roman Catholic but like much of France, church attendance is fairly low with only about 8% attending regularly. Religious events and festivals are taken seriously though, the highlight being the Holy Week processions which take place in towns such as Bonifacio, Sartène and Calvi in the week leading up to Easter.
You will see carvings, symbols, paintings and emblems of the Virgin Mary all across the island and the hymn Dio vi salvi Regina is regarded by nationalists as the island’s anthem. In Cargèse, on the West coast, there is a small Orthodox community.
Corsica’s religious beliefs coexist with traditional rituals, superstitions and magic. One unusual example is the belief that the first eggs laid on Ascension Day are magic. They are kept for the year and many say they never rot. Throughout the year they will be used to cure the ill, keep away lightening and the wives of sailors put them in the window during storms to protect their husbands.
Please note, public holidays and religious festivals may affect the availability of facilities and establishments: see festivals and events for more details.