Cemeteries on the Lavezzi archipelago, southern Corsica
Photo credit: Guillaume Pichard
Surrounded by thousands of blocks of granite worn smooth by the wind, salt, sea and sun, the site is popular with tourists.
Dotted with turquoise creeks, the sun-soaked islands of the Lavezzi archipelago are situated between Corsica and Sardinia. Here lie the bodies of more than 400 soldiers and seamen who perished when the three-masted frigate Sémillante was wrecked in the Strait of Bonifacio between 15 and 16 February 1855. Caught in a violent storm, the French warship sank en route for the Crimea with a detachment of 700 men, during the conflict with Russia. Due to difficulties of access, the recovered bodies were all buried on the island, in two quite unusual cemeteries.
Built over a creek and joined by a footpath, Acciarino, to the west, holds 118 graves, and Furcone, to the east, has 124 graves and a chapel. A listed site since 1983, it forms part of the Strait of Bonifacio protected nature reserve.
In 1856, a pyramid-shaped memorial was erected by the Ministry of War and the Navy, on the summit of one of the three islands west of Cala Lazarina, where the Sémillante was wrecked. It honours the memory of the army and naval officers who lost their lives in the shipwreck.
Today, the Ministry of the Armed Forces (DPMA), supported by its operator (the National Office for Veterans and Victims of War) and local actors (Bonifacio town council and the Corsican environment office), takes care of the upkeep and conservation of these two cemeteries, in keeping with the specific natural conditions of the island.