When Agatha Christie came to Coti-Chiavari

Let’s go back to the coast, towards Coti-Chiavari, north of Porto-Pollo, and retrace a walk that Agatha Christie had done in 1926. As recalled by Marie-Jean Vinciguerra (Literary Chronicles), the English novelist disappeared after a period of misfortunes that coincided with her return from Corsica – as she confided in ‘My Life’.

So, where did the famous novelist go on the island

Let’s look for a lead, following her character Mr Satterthwaite, who accompanied an eccentric English duchess in ‘Mr Quinn on a voyage’ (short story from The World’s End). Following Ajaccio, the two English people from Agatha Christie’s story go to Coti-Chiavari, a village which at that time was composed of ‘five or six stone houses’. The snow covers the mountains and, in the mist the duchess exclaims “we have arrived at the end of the world !” – to which Satterthwaite adds “This is truly an extraordinary place, one feels just about anything can happen here, and we could meet anyone.” And, as it was totally unexpected, although usual for him, Mr Harley Quinn the adventure companion of Satterthwaite appeared. With the snow falling, he offers them to take refuge in an inn, in a tiny room that was quite dark, as the only window gave very little light. From the end of the room, came a warm glow. 

Marie-Jean Vinciguerra gives evidence of the anecdote in The Literary Chronicles, and sixty years later he took the same route as the English had taken, this time accompanied by Henri Antona, the mayor of Coti-Chiavari. When they arrived where Agatha Christie had named the ‘end of the world’, he read her story to him. It was then that Henry Antona realised that the novelist had described his grandmother’s establishment down to the last detail – this was somewhere he had spent his childhood. Vinciguerra had led his investigation right up to the end. Agatha Christie had indeed come to Coti-Chiavari in person.

Extract from: La Corse des écrivains by Thierry Ottaviani 

Image: Alta Frequenza ©

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