Memories of wars past: a cannon ball dating back to 1543.

In the corner of rue Droite and rue de la Loge in the old town of Nice you’ll find a black cannon ball dating back from 1543. It is placed well above eye level and easy to miss if you didn’t know it was there.

Whenever Savoy was at war with France, Nice was immediately occupied. In August 1543, it was besieged by the troops of the French King Francis I, allied this time with the Turkish fleet of Admiral Barbarossa against the Emperor Charles V. (As a byline, Nice only became part of France in 1860.)

The city was taken, but the castle pursued its heroic resistance, as symbolized by the legendary figure of Catarina Ségurana, a washerwoman who is said to have participated in the city’s defence. The town was freed a month later upon the arrival of an army mustered by a Savoyard duke, Charles III.

Other cannon balls can be found in Nice too. Three are visible on Place Garibaldi, on the front of the Chapelle du Très-Saint-Sépulcre-des-Pénitents Bleus.