on having a view, & other notions
“I have a view, I have a view.”
“A view? Oh, a view! How delightful a view is!”
“This is my son,” said the old man; “his name’s George. He has a view too.”—E. M. Forster, A Room with a View.
She opened her curtains, and looked out towards the bit of road that lay in view, with fields beyond outside the entrance-gates. On the road there was a man with a bundle on his back and a woman carrying her baby; in the field she could see figures moving – perhaps the shepherd with his dog. Far off in the bending sky was the pearly light; and she felt the largeness of the world and the manifold wakings of men to labor and endurance. She was a part of that involuntary, palpitating life, and could neither look out on it from her luxurious shelter as a mere spectator, nor hide her eyes in selfish complaining.–
I had a room with a view.
Finding a hotel room, whether it had a view or not, was difficult. The hotels along the east coast of Haute-Corse were either booked or the prices seemed too expensive. I did eventually find one at the Hotel U Sant Agnellu in a small perched village called Rogliano in the commune with the same name.
A view in the morning when the sun rises is spectacular. It looks wonderful in nature; it looks wonderful in paintings; and does a sunrise ever not look wonderful in a photograph. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
My room had a view of the Mediterranean Sea, of the small seaside village of Macinaggio, where Napoléon landed after his exhile on Elba, and of the small Italian island Capraia on the horizon. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Sometimes, rejections are a blessing. The hotel and the village Rogliano just below it turned into a happy accident. There, I was away from tourists. I could wander through the quiet, old village that had not yet been spoiled by money.
While wandering the maze of streets in Rogliano, I thought back to the streets in other French villages perchés, specifically Èze and Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Those villages, and others like them along the Côte d’Azur, have been sanded smooth and refined, and a lot of money has been spent by wealthy individuals and businesses to make them appealing to tourists. Large buses make pilgrimages to Èze and Saint-Paul-de-Vence carrying tourists who shop through those streets, lined with boutique stores and art galleries. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Rogliano will not become one of those villages. Some have discovered it, of course, and had the imagination to to see the potential in the battered and broken-down buildings. Some have even restored and rehabilitated the ruelles. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
There is no English word for ruelle other than maybe alleyways or lanes or small passages, but even those words seem inadequate.
Victor Hugo used the word in Les Misérables, « Nous disons fentes étroites, et nous ne pouvons pas donner une plus juste idée de ces ruelles obscures, resserrées, anguleuses, bordées de masures à huit étages ».
Roughly translated, he wrote, “We say the narrow cracks, and we cannot give a more correct idea of these obscures [obscure, dark], resserrées [narrow, squeezed], bordées [lined hovel] of masures [tumbledown, dilapidated] ruelles.” A rough translation it is, but one should get the idea.
A narrow crack, a fissure, a cleft, that is how he describes the ruelles. It is a good word for some lanes in Rogliano.