Corsica’s turbulent past of being ruled by the Romans, the Italians, themselves, and then by the French, has left the island with some beautiful architecture from all the changing of hands. One example is Girolate, a remote town north-west of Porto where you can visit a Genoese fortress which overlooks the postcard perfect turquoise waters of the bay. This unique town is accessible only by a 22 km hike for those up to the challenge, or by a much less arduous boat trip from Porto or Calvi.
In the northern region of the island is the “city of art and history” Bastia. Here you’ll find Baroque chapels and churches dating back to 15th century, along with 3 of the coastal Genoese towers from the 16th century.
Venturing down to the southern region is Bonifacio which has some of the most beautiful beaches in Corsica.
So much of Corsica has been left untouched which makes it a perfect spot for boating excursions and tours. The range of activities in Corsica extend from hiking and walking tours, to boating activities and plenty of water sports, and for those who prefer some R&R time, rent a hotel along the beach and enjoy the simple life of good views, good food, and good wine.
Places to Visit in Corsica
- Filitosa and Palaggiu
- Porto Vecchio
Unique Things to See and Do in Corsica
- Wander through the market place in Porticcio
- Admire the yachts in Saint Florent
- Visit the olive oil mill Sta Lucie de Tallano
- Enjoy a dip in the thermal springs in Baracci
- Take a boat tour to the Lavezzi islands
- Sample wines at Auberge du Coucou, Calenzana – a winemakers delight!
- Lay on the beach in Palombaggia, known as the most beautiful in the region
Corsica – a Sense of Serenity
Anyone coming from a modern city will feel like Corsica is a step back in time – where everything moves at slower pace and around every corner is beautiful landscape of natural beauty. Even the air is perfumed with lush flowering buds mixed in with fresh breezes and sea winds. It takes city dwellers a day or two to sink in to the culture of 3 hour lunches, strolls through narrow quaint streets, and admiring the watery views from a lounging chair, but once they do they find it hard to return to their fast-paced lives. Everything from trains rides, to driving through mountain passes, to grabbing a coffee is slower. And with that slower approach to life comes the zest for enjoying your surroundings. Particularly with food taking the centre stage of virtually all social activities.
Corsicans are very serious about their cuisine and rightfully so. Most town restaurants serve mainly local fresh ingredients, which includes veal, wild boar, lamb, fish, and lobster accompanied with sides of Italian influenced pastas, wild mushrooms, and of course chestnut traditions in all forms (and Corsican wine too!). A sumptuous meal might contain anything from chestnut bread to wild boar who feast on fallen chestnuts, to a personal favourite – fresh ravioli with chestnut drizzle. One of the best ways to try authentic traditional Corsican cuisines is to seek out a fermi-auberge. These are farmhouses outside of villages, usually in rural locations that offer traditional local foods. Typical of restaurants of the past, you arrive to a preset meal, whatever is in season and cooked to the chef’s preference (usually a family recipe handed down through the generations).
The meals are generous so bring your appetite and be prepared for many types of meats – particularly charcuterie plates of wild boar! Corsicans boast that they produce some of the best charcuterie meats in the world – and they have a long history of it to prove it!
Did you know…?
Bonifacio is a well preserved medieval city with narrow streets that are excellent for wandering explorations.
Did you ALSO know…?
The mountainous regions of Corsica produce some of the best goat and sheep cheeses. A couple of popular ones to try are: brocciu (like ricotta), tomme de brebis (sheep), and tomee de chevre (goat), and fromage piquant (strong!).
Getting Around Corsica
Arriving in Corsica, you’ll either be flying in or taking a ferry, but most tend to fly. There are four airports located around the island in Calvi, Bastia, Ajaccio, and Figari. Public transportation around the island is a scattering of systems pieced together, so renting a car is usually the best way to go. Your best bet getting to and from the airports is to take a taxi which can be a bit pricey – anywhere from 15 euros in Calvi to 35 euros in Figari.
Between towns there is a train called “The Tinicellu” that runs from Calvi to Bastia. The train rides are inexpensive – a book of 6 tickets will cost around 7.50 euros. Purchase a book to cover your return fares since rides are calculated in short trips, so you’ll need several tickets. One of the best train rides for its beautiful scenery is the ride from Corte to Bocognano. Along this route you’ll see one of the major attractions, the Vecchio Viaduct engineered by Gustav Eiffel (known for the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty).
Renting a car is one of the best ways to travel, especially if you’re spending a few weeks here – to travel both the north and the south parts. The roads are in good shape and easy to navigate. In the smaller towns the streets can get a little narrow so a smaller compact car is best for that. If you’re traveling through the mountains the roads can be windy and bit slow going – so allow for more time than you might think. Locals are really patient with tourists driving through, so don’t feel anxious they will pass you if they need to. One thing to note is that like many places – you have to be at least 21 years old to rent a car – and also you’ll need to carry your passport with you at all times.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Corsica
One of the best features of Corsica living is the weather. Being situated between the Ligurian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea, the winds are warm and the air is fresh. Especially during the spring time when the temperatures are the easiest for most travellers, averaging around 20C to 24C. Expect plenty of bright vibrant colours from all the blooming flowers. The perfumes of Corsica keep people coming back every year.
The summer months warm up considerably with temperatures averaging 27C (July and August). This is a great time to go hiking, with the higher elevations being a bit cooler. Otherwise, it is definitely beach weather, but be sure to wear sunscreen!
During the autumn, the temperatures drop down to 10C and the flowering plants change colours into the rustic reds and oranges. It can still be warm enough to lounge by the beach though, especially in the southern regions. Another bonus for the culinary scene is the fresh mushrooms that pop up. Be sure to try some wild fungi on the local menu – particularly in pasta dishes!
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