| Prosper Merimée's mission|
Since its construction, probably in the early XIIth century, all of the religious architecture has sustained severe damage.
During the XVIth century, Apostolate visitors mention a very beautiful bell-tower without bells. It is surprising because the bell-towers were used to sound the tocsin in case of calamities as well as the angelus; which partly explains why they are often separated from the church. At this epoch, the bell-tower is still standing and its destruction intervenes in the next century. According to one of the Apostolate visitors, San Quilico is in bad shape, especially the roof, but the walls subsist.
In 1839, according to Mérimée, who was not very precise in his measurements, but very attentive to essentials, the walls have collapsed to one meter from the ground and of the three original stories of the bell-tower, only one remains. Which means that two thirds of its height is still intact.
The photos of Jules de Laurière, general secretary of the Society of French Archeology, show that in 1883, the access to the first floor subsists with a projection of masonry in an angle leading to the second floor. At this time at least one section of the wall is still visible at San Quilico.
In May 1839, Jean Vatout, part of Louis Philippe's circle of friends, is named Director of the Commission of Public and Historical Monuments attached to the Interior Ministry.
He declares that the Department of Corsica will be included in the tour of inspection of Prosper Mérimée, named General Inspector of Historical Monuments in 1833. The post had just been created by Guizot, three years earlier, during his brief passage in the Interior Ministry.
Romanticism has discovered Corsica, strange territory, and the souvenirs of Napoleon have been revived. Mérimée, who had published Mateo Falcon ten years earlier, is not unhappy to make a visit. He had already written ten works : theatre, short stories, historical novels. Author, jurist, man of the world close to each successive government, he is known today for his exotic tales in which romanticism and realism are well-blended.
The Mérimée who inherited his artistic family culture undertaking artistic and historical research, devoted to the cause of architectural patrimony is less well-known. Nevertheless, he played an important role in the conservation and the valorization of architectural sites and had a moderating influence on Viollet-le-Duc, ten years his younger, who built medieval castles in the XIXth century.
In a letter dated June 24, 1839, Tanneguy Duchâtel – who has just been named Interior Minister will soon leave the Ministry to come back eight months later – authorizes Mérimée to effectuate his inspection tour. Mérimée leaves June 29 for the South of France where he begins his mission; he embarks at Toulon for Bastia the 15th of August, Assumption Day, a day of grace to aboard Corsica and its sanctuaries.
He explores the surroundings of Bastia up to Aleria, then from September 2 around Ajaccio. At this occasion he visits Colomba, (later becoming the Widow Bartoli) at Fozzano. After Bonifacio and Porto-Vecchio, he visits the region of Alta Rocca and Carbini, in the second half of September. He returns to Ajaccio, follows the western coast to Cargese, and then rejoins Bastia on October 7 where he embarks for Livourne for a private trip to Italy.
This circuit on broken lines is due partially to information he gathers locally on certain sites, and also because of the mode of transportation in Corsica, for which he will be scrupulously reimbursed: 386 posts 1/2 (diligence). He will also perceive a substantial “special indemnity” of 4000 francs
We know by his writings that Prosper Mérimée appreciated the bell-tower of Carbini: “...the most ancient, the only ancient one still standing in Corsica”. The characteristic form of its entrance, that he compared to examples in Tuscany proves his interest in the subject matter. To organize its restoration, he asked the Minister for a special subsidy explaining that the parish was destitute.
This marks the beginning of an important movement of codification of the status of historical monuments which will be hindered by the series of social crisis, political instability and other conflicts. In 1851, the Commission of Historical Monuments created a heliographic department in charge of the classification of photos of French monuments. All of the Carbini site, which was not on the first listing appears in 1883; and it is enacted ‘historical monument' on July 12, 1886.
Why so late? More than 40 years after Merimée's official request?
By consulting the ledgers, one can discover that among the churches receiving classification in 1840 on the north of the island, Saint-Michel de Murato is observed as being “... in a very satisfying state of conservation”, and no other subsidies are mentioned for the few other monuments in the area. It is probable that the lack of necessary funds for conservation and safeguard retarded the restoration project. The other reasons for the delay are the diminishing size of the parish of Carbini at this epoch, its lack of notoriety, and the volume of work necessary. About 1890, architect-in-chief Albert Ballu, presents the plan of the belfry of Carbini in exactly the same state as seen by Laurière, and a second plan showing the future belfry to be restored including the pyramidal spire we know today. The drawings of the cross-sections retouched with sanguine chalk are elegant and refined. Ballu, who intervened on the restoration of other churches in Corsica, spent most of his career on the government in Algeria.
In reality, the actions in favor of the restoration began much earlier. According to the synthesis of A. Parmain, head architect in 1991 , several reports and requests existed between 1850 and 1860. But we must be wary. His priorities were elsewhere, and he made errors on several points: the date of the restoration, the name of the contractor to whom the contract was attributed, as well as the question of the lauzes (leaf-thin granite used for roofing)
The next step begins in early 1880 when Ferrapisani, former surveyor from Ajjaccio, sends his drawings and survey notes to the Director of Fine Arts, according to the commission he had received. He claims his due on March 2 1880. These drawings and survey notes will be very useful later on for the architect Ballu. On December 20, 1880, by the intermediary of Viollet le Duc, general secretary, the Commission of Historical Monuments receives an emergency request containing five photos (anterior to Laurière's photos). Between these attempts and the actual restoration, twenty-five years go by.
In October of 1893, the Direction of Cultual Services decides to attribute 5000 francs to the restoration budget in order to aid the parish.
But the affair is at a stand-still.
May 9, 1900 intervention by the Deputy/Count Pozzo di Borgo in favor of the restoration.
July 18, 1901, intervention by Emmanuel Arène, Deputy.
The formal budgetary estimation is accepted and the decree signed at the end of 1902.
Plan d'Albert Ballu
Vers 1890, Ballu fait le plan d'un campanile dont la toiture échappe à la tradition pisane
" Le tort de la Corse est de présenter une image plus grande que la sienne propre..."
|Sculpture, bijoux, gravure,|
Vu du côté de l'entrée
photo Marie Ba