A Napoleonic Walking Tour and Palais Fesch Art Museum
Tour Participation Requirements
It's all about Napoleon in Ajaccio. The future Emperor was born and raised here, until his father sent him off to military school in France. So get ready to learn the fascinating history of the Bonapartes, as your GoBe guide leads you through Ajaccio, with time to stop and appreciate all you've learned while noshing on the famed local charcuterie and wine.
It all begins in the heart of Ajaccio, Place Foch. Now lined with cafes and dominated by a statue of Napoleon, the former Piazza Porta was once the only gate to the city's defensive citadel.
After passing Ajaccio Cathedral, where Napoleon was christened, you'll arrive at Maison Bonaparte. The house belonged to the family beginning in 1682. As minor Italian nobles, they had a prestigious position in the community, even if they weren't quite amongst the wealthy elite. It was here that Napoleon was born; 24 years later, when he led a failed rebellion against Corsica's governor, he and his family had to flee through a trap door.
The Palais Fesch was built by Napoleon's uncle, the Cardinal Fesch, over the course of 33 years. Three wings housed his collection of art, all of which was donated to the city after his death. Today, the museum hosts the most important collection of Italian art in France outside of the Louvre, with works by the likes of Botticelli, Titiano, and Veronese. It's also home to the city's library, which was founded by Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon's brother.
Uncle-Cardinal Fesch was only six years older than his nephew, but relations went south when he sided with the Pope in Napoleon's constant power struggles with the Church. Left a nice palace, though.
The Little Dictator's dictator mom
If you want to understand Napoleon, start with his mother. Letizia Ramolino was a strict disciplinarian who would punish her children not for misbehaving, but to teach them sacrifice and discipline. The future emperor would even be sent to bed without dinner, just to learn how to suffer in silence. It was effective parenting – a highly disciplined Napoleon would soon make all of Europe suffer.
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