The first time I traveled around Corsica, I was 18. Some friends and I had gone there to hike, and we stopped at the village of Piana. It’s small, only around 500 people, way up on top of a hill, so it has fewer tourists—and an incredible view of the sea. We pitched our tents at a tiny campsite owned by a farmer. It was very romantic. Then we walked into the village, and there was the Hôtel Les Roches Rouges. I was so curious to go in and see what it was like, but it was abandoned. The hotel was a fancy place in the 20’s but had been empty since 1965.
And then, in 1985, Mady Dalakupeyan, who’s from Piana, bought it and renovated it in the original Art Deco style, but more simply. A boyfriend and I rented a room. Everything there is so authentic—the beautiful floors, really good, nice furniture—and they had no television at the time. Unfortunately, now they do.
I travel so much for my work that I like to do nothing here. Just to lie on the beach with a book, and hike a lot. I’ve been back to the Hôtel Les Roches Rouges many times since. Now they let us leave our own beach chairs and umbrellas there, because they know we come every year.
Rineke Dijkstra’s work can be seen at the Tate Modern in London this summer (May 22–August 31, 2008) in “Street & Studio: An Urban History of Photography.”