The charm of the past. From this 15th-century Corsican monastery, the view looks like a perfect Neapolitan gouache, where the island of Elba replaces the volcano Vesuvius and the town of Bastia stands in for Naples. But Il Covento is more than a balcony on the Tyrrhénian Sea. It’s an old family house, with a special perfume and ambience, a delicate mix between the simplicity intended by the ancestral monks and the taste of a brilliant French family. Emmanuelle Picon, owner of this vacation home rental in Corsica which has been in her family since the French Revolution, shares this heritage with the same breath and light.
Can you explain how such an unusual place is still your family house today?
Emmanuelle Picon: “During the French Revolution, some properties belonging to the Catholic Church were sold, and one of my ancestors, who was a French prefect in Bastia, bought it. This monastery and its church from the Cap Corse belonged to the Capuchin monks, and some of the rooms upstairs, called cells, are still the same as they were in the 15th century. A small white room with a shy and tiny window opening into the immensity of the great blue of the sky and sea.
“Year after year, my family used this place like a vacation house and brought generation after generation, furnitures, books, frames, objects… A touch of fantasy inside a kind of religious austerity. Since 2014, I have lived here, and I welcome guests from BoutiqueHomes. Thanks to them begins a new history for this monastery.”
What do you want to share with your guests through this monastery-house?
EP: “At the very beginning, I was not expecting to share so much with my guests. Now I am with them like I could be with friends or relatives. Simply because the house makes the difference. When people arrive here with their suitcases they say, ‘Wow, what a place!’ And the story begins, a kind of proximity between the house, the guest and myself, born in a magic way, in a kind of spiritual way. I enjoy when my guests take pleasure in being here.”
What is “luxury” for you?
EP: “Absolute privacy in a historic house like this one. There is a kind of respect for this building not because it’s a luxury house or hotel but because it’s also a historic monastery where religious people lived in poverty and where a Corsican and French family lived in harmony. Here, on the wall of the main room, there is a Latin inscription from the Capuchin monks. It says, ‘If you are not satisfied with what you have, remember poverty.’ It’s curious because it’s a kind of real luxury, don’t you think?”