A building which was destined to become the summer residence of the future emperor – though he never stayed there. Today it’s a museum which tells of Napoleon’s history and of the life of Bocognano, the village which every year celebrates A Castagna. An intimate experience of authentic Corsica.
In 1796, Napoleon Bonaparte commissioned the Palazzu de Bocognano
to be built by the Bonelli brothers. The young general intended it to be his summer residence, but he never actually lived there and instead bequeathed the house to his Corsican cousins. Transformed in 2015, the building is now an eco-museum composed of nine rooms, as well as a media library and office space. The museum retraces part of the life of the Emperor and his connection with the village, highlighting the history of the region, the traditional way of life, customs and some of the emblematic characters of the region.
Visitors can explore the museum to discover objects, furniture, clothes and photographs and become immersed in Corsica’s past. The ground floor is dedicated to Napoleon, and the valley where bandits once roamed. The first floor includes a reconstruction of a historic Corsican house, built with typical style of the period. Kitchen utensils, work tools and portraits bear witness to the agricultural life of yesteryear and offer the visitors a glimpse into the past.
Audio guides in six languages are available, including Corsican. Video screens and photographs provide additional information in each room for an interactive and informative tour. A free mobile app allows you to learn more about the Palazzu, and to explore the old village on a walking tour. It’s an innovative approach that’s available thanks to I Palazziali, a Bocognan association, which aims to enhance the museum and the village.
Since 2019, the app, named ‘Museu U Palazzu – Bucugnanu
’ has enabled visitors to browse online for information and anecdotes about Bocognano and its architectural heritage. The association, which also organizes heritage walks, film screenings and one-off historical events, plans to develop the app to connect the museum to other emblematic places in the village.
The aim is to make Bocognano a ‘destination village’, and to showcase its many charms.
To discover around
La Rêverie, original Corsican biscuits
Since 2017, the Bocognano biscuit factory La Rêverie
has been delighting young and old with its ‘cookistrelli’, a mixture of chocolate, hazelnuts from the village, and chestnut flour. You can find this unique biscuit on sale through a network of partners, on Facebook, by post or at markets such as Bocognano, which is held on Thursday mornings. Other products are also offered, including salt flavored with hazelnut or nettle, and decorative objects which are all ecological and organic.
Basketry, a tradition that is being preserved
In the heart of the hamlet of Arbaghju, in Bocognano, Ghjulia-Maria Tomasini preserves the art of basket weaving. Working mainly with maritime rushes, she makes fattoghje, also known as Casgiaghje, a specific type of basket used for draining and moulding Corsican cheese. This traditional method of cheese making is still used by some shepherds and is very much a part of the island’s tradition. Creating these baskets requires meticulous handiwork. Picking, cooking, drying and braiding are part of the ancestral process that Ghjulia-Maria works hard to preserve.
U Mulinu di l'Orsu and island agriculture
On the banks of the river Gravona, below the village of Bocognano, the Mulinu di l'Orsu has been a part of the island's agricultural past since the early 19th century. The river’s current was used to drive two millstones, one to grind wheat and the other to mill chestnuts. The restored mill still operates for events, as does the stone oven next to it. This is a beautiful and tranquil area, perfect for walkers in summer and winter.
Bâtiment U Palazzu, Quartier Moraschi, 20136 Bocognano