Each month, Gaston Mercier Sellier will present a portrait that is close to our hearts, beautiful stories, atypical adventures, encounters…
This month, discover the portrait of Diana Saliceti, Singer, Journalist and Corsican Rider. In love with our Gaston Mercier brand for several years, she shares with us her life, full of adventures, passions and beautiful projects to come.
At the end of this year, I write to you from my island. The island of beauty, as you can read on postcards, but which is above all for me, my mountain in the sea. Our land sculpted in granite and schist and whose history has been a long odyssey since antiquity. A history made of conquests, invasions, agro pastoralism, revolts and resistance.
My name is Diana Saliceti, I am a Corsican journalist and singer and if I write this little text it is to present the link woven since centuries and until today between the islanders and the equids. Impossible for the Corsicans to tame this sometimes very hostile landscape and to lead the herds as well as the food on the steep paths without the immeasurable effort of horses, donkeys and other mules.
Also, the latter have been indispensable allies over the years for the Corsicans, who have great respect and gratitude for them. It is not uncommon to find in the attics of villages, an old pack-saddle, a net or a pair of stirrup leathers, a vestige of a time when some were muleteers as we are today transport drivers or deliverymen. I remember the emotion that overwhelmed me when one day, trying to put some order in my family house of Salicetu in Castagniccia, I found an amazon saddle belonging to an ancestor.
The woman, too, has been in contact with the horse and its other cousins over the centuries on an island where families lived seasonally between the plains and the mountains. For my part, this presence of women riders in the past echoes my reality since I must say that my practice of horseback riding on my island is inseparable from women who have become great friends. And at the heart of these friendships, there is the Gaston Mercier brand, which accompanies us as the main saddler of our escapades between sea and mountain.
My friends, Déborah, Marie Line and Justine are each in their own way ambassadors of our paths, our traditions and our Corsican values. Déborah runs a ranch with her father in the heart of Niolu, “Niolu à Cavallu”. It was she who took me for the first time on the GR20 on horseback, converting me, in passing, to the Gaston Mercier saddles. Before becoming a friend, she was my guide to reach the Ninu lake, an earthly paradise of which she is certainly the fairy. I love her relationship with her horses, which she leaves as free as possible, and with the mountains, which she devours daily, on foot or on horseback. Marie Line runs a stable on the eastern coast called “U Baladinu”, she is a champion jumper and teacher, and in the summer she works as a mule driver to supply the refuges of the GR20 South or to bring down the waste. She takes care of her horses and in particular of her little Corsican mare as well as her mules with a passion, a patience and an infinite generosity, three words which characterize her. Finally, here is Justine, who is also learning the trade of mule driver and who is passionate about endurance races. She is a dark-eyed fighter with an innate sense of dressage and horsemanship. Our first contact was established on Le Bon Coin, because I wanted to buy a saddle from her … Gaston Mercier ! With Justine, we are now teamed up in Corte in a training course given by the Equiloisirs center, to become an equestrian tourism guide.
Here is my island world made of passion. I hope to make you discover it during the next months in text and image.
“Gaston Mercier is part of my history and my most beautiful meetings. A great ally to travel this mountain in the sea and live the most beautiful adventures. I look forward to meeting you there…”