- City, village and neighbourhood
Classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France, picturesque with its white houses arranged in an amphitheatre and dominated by the beautiful church of Sainte-Marie, Piana serves as a backdrop to an exceptional gulf listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As its name suggests, Piana is built on a 438 metre high plateau and majestically overlooks the Gulf of Porto, facing the Senino and Scandola peninsulas.
In the heart of the village stands the parish church dedicated to the Assumption, in late Baroque style, completed in 1792. It houses the statue of the Virgin of the Assumption, a Genoese work of the 18th century, classified as a historical monument. Its axial door is made of polychrome wood. The vault of the choir is decorated with medallions by the painter Paul Mathieu Lovellini (1831-1919). Traditionally, every year on the last Sunday of July, the Corsican brotherhoods meet. The Romanesque church of Saint-Pierre et Paul, transformed into a family vault in the 19th century, can also be seen outside.
Piana is especially famous for its majestic calanques: spikes, columns, figures eaten away by the wind and the sea, the calanche of Piana, about ten kilometres from Porto, are considered as one of the wonders of Corsica. Together with the Gulf of Girolata and the Scandola reserve, they form part of the Gulf of Porto, which is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Slow erosion work has given these jagged red rocks, eternally playing with the sun's rays, the air of real natural sculptures with fantastic shapes overhanging a deep blue sea, 300 metres high.
Since then, this landscape has continued to be a source of inspiration for artists, who are captivated by its singularity.
Maupassant, visiting Corsica, described them in the following terms:
"I first stopped in amazement before these astonishing pink granite rocks, four hundred metres high, strange, tortured, bent, eaten away by time, bloody under the last lights of twilight and taking on all the forms of a fantastic people from fairy tales, petrified by some supernatural power. I see alternately two monks standing, of a gigantic size; a bishop seated, crook in hand, with his sights set on his head; prodigious figures, a lion crouching at the side of the road, a woman suckling her child and a curious, horned, grimacing devil's head, the guardian no doubt of this crowd imprisoned in bodies of stone.
Another legend says that Satan fell in love with a shepherdess, but she refused his advances and called her husband for help. In revenge, the Devil triggered a landslide and set about carving the shepherdess, her husband and the flock into the rock. Shortly afterwards, Saint Martin blessed the place and softened the fury of the landscape by creating a peaceful gulf at its feet.
From the hamlet of Vistale, a 4 km winding road leads down to the Ficajola marina, where the lobster fishermen's boats are sheltered.
A little history:
Piana was in the Middle Ages one of the strongholds of the Leca lords. Legend has it that a treasure belonging to the family was hidden among the ruins of their fortress at Foce d'Orto.
Danielle Casanova, born in Ajaccio on 9 January 1909, distinguished herself in the French resistance during the Second World War. Vincentella Perini of her real first name, nicknamed Danielle and married to Casanova, was an activist communist who led the fight for French freedom and gave her life for her ideas.
The Perini family is originally from Piana. They spent their school holidays in the hamlet of Vistale, where their grandparents lived.
Arrested on 5 February 1942 by the French police, Danielle Casanova remained in the police headquarters until 23 March 1942 for interrogation, and was then imprisoned in the prison of La Santé.
On 9 June 1942, she was handed over to the Gestapo in the rue des Saussaie, then imprisoned by the Germans on 24 August 1942 at the Fort de Romainville. On 24 January 1943, Danielle Casanova was deported to Auschwitz, where she died of typhus on the evening of 9 May 1943.
Her ashes are deposited in the family tomb in Vistale. A stele overlooking the sea is also erected in her memory. There are many places in France that bear his name: streets, schools, hospitals...
A stamp with her effigy has been produced and a Corsica Linea boat bears the name of "Danielle CASANOVA".
"Un battellu biancu cum'è una culomba
porta fieramente u to nome
Pè u to curagiu, e pè u to esempiu
Nu a nostra mémoria canti sempré"
Piana was also the site of the second landing in Corsica, at Arone, on 5, 6 and 7 February 1943.
After having accomplished a mission at Cros-de-Cagnes, the submarine Casabianca arrived near Piana on the night of 5 February and landed on the bottom near Capo Rosso. At 2pm, it was positioned further south, in the bay of Arone, where it had to land men, weapons and ammunition. After various setbacks due to the weather, 450 machine guns and 60,000 rounds of ammunition were left in a nearby ruined sheepfold. It was later learned that all the equipment had been evacuated from the sheepfold by the resistance before the Italians arrived on the scene. Because of the weather problems encountered during this mission, the Casa stalled, damaging the rudder, which had to be repaired in Algiers.
Ajaccio at 68 km
Ajaccio at 68 km