You might think that the name “Paoli” was chosen for a little Main Line town purely to separate the locals (who know how to pronounce it) from the out-of-towners (who don’t). But this week Paoli welcomed some out-of-towners who knew exactly how to pronounce “Paoli,” because they came from the birthplace of General Pasquale Paoli, the Mediterranean island of Corsica. Among the visitors, here to continue a long-standing relationship between the Paoli Business and Professional Association and the territorial government of Corsica, was Gilles Simeoni, President of the Corsican Assembly, along with the Corsican Minister of Culture and the Minister of Tourism.
Pasquale Paoli is Corsica’s national hero and second-most-famous native son—after Napoleon Bonaparte. Paoli was a freedom fighter who helped win the island’s independence from the Republic of Genoa and served as president of the Corsican Republic during its brief existence from 1755 to 1769. He was also the author of the republic’s constitution, considered to be the first ever democratic constitution, based on Enlightenment principles. Although Paoli never visited America, he was an inspiration to the American revolutionaries, and so much admired in this area that an inn was named after him—and the town was named after the inn.
On Friday, April 6, the delegation stopped by Paoli Library to view the large bust of Paoli and a replica of his ceremonial sword given to the town in 1966 by the mayor of Morosaglia, Paoli’s birthplace. In the absence of a town hall or a community center, Paoli Library serves as the center of town, so it has housed these mementos ever since.
President Simeoni and his compatriots extended a heartfelt invitation to the residents of Paoli to visit the island of Corsica, to enjoy the crystal-clear waters and sandy beaches of the coastline, and the pristine creeks and granite cliffs farther inland.
Paoli Library—although it can offer no beaches or cliffs–also extends a heartfelt invitation to area residents, to come view the statue of General Paoli and to get acquainted with the many unexpected free resources it does offer, from e-books, to museum passes, to a GoPro camera. The library is right in the center of Paoli, in the Wells Fargo building at the corner of Route 30 and Darby Road.