Separated by the Mediterranean from its native French mainland, Corsica has developed its unique culture over the centuries. This cultural independence is reflected in the gastronomy of the island and the activities it offers. Join us in compiling a list of the best things we need to do and see in this sun-drenched country.
The birthplace of the most famous Corsican, Napoleon Bonaparte, has naturally become a place of great importance on the island. Now a museum, the Maison Bonaparte is filled with preserved furniture from the Napoleonic period, as well as family and personal belongings. The Bonaparte family arrived in Ajaccio sometime in the late 15th century and owned the house from 1682 to 1923. Napoleon lived here only until his ninth year, but his importance as an important figure in world history led to the classification of Maison as a historical monument.
Scandola Nature Reserve
It stretches just eight miles off the northwest coast of Corsica. The Scandola Nature Reserve has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique relief, beauty and biodiversity. The best way to experience this area is sailing by boat from the port of Calvi. You can enjoy the red rocks, the volcanic hilly coast, the coves, the beaches, the caves and the islets lamented by the clear sea. If you are lucky, you will be joined by dolphins and sea eagles specific to the area.
Situated on top of the white limestone cliffs of the peninsula with cracks of 70 meters, the location of the Bonifacio Fortress is certainly dramatic. The fortification was founded in the 9th century as the first line of defense of Tuscany and was occupied by Pisa and Genoa. It was even used as the administrative center of the French Legion of Foreigners. Within the walls, the inhabitants of the old town of Boniface developed their business in the middle of the medieval streets.
Desert of the Agriates
15,000 hectares of protected wildlife under this name was once an area of fertile agricultural land – “agriates” means cultivated fields. However, fires and soil erosion decimated crops, and in the 1970s it became what it is today. The area remains uninhabited, but not devoid of life, as parts are covered with clean pastures, meadows and picturesque beaches. Evidence of the country’s previous inhabitants can be seen in “pagliaghji”, stone huts used for housing, as stables, or as warehouses.
Fesch Palace – Museum of Fine Arts
Napoleon’s uncle, Cardinal Joseph Fesch, was responsible for founding this art museum, which is today the largest collection of Italian paintings in France outside the Louvre. The elegantly designed gallery features works by masters such as Botticelli, Bellini and Titian. Here you can admire Italian and Corsican works of art from the XVII. And the twentieth century, but it is also an important collection of Napoleonic works, including sculptures, which the place is proud of. For those who want to dive deeper into the matter, there are guided tours, drawing lessons, and art workshops.
There are many stunning canyons in Corsica, mostly concentrated in the south of the island. Canyoning is an open venture that involves swimming, rock climbing and walking, following the trails and waterways that run through most of the canyons. The canyons of Corsica are in places of stunning natural beauty, and while descending down natural stone slabs and jumping into rocky pools can be fun, it should be noted that this can be a dangerous activity.
Bee Garden (Le Jardin des Abeilles)
This “bee garden” is an unexpected attraction in Corsica. The Casalta family owns 400 hives and produces six varieties of honey with the help of bee species that live there. Beauty, health and an assortment of sweet treats are available for purchase at their store, but don’t stray from the wooded “learning trails” of walking through the nearby woods. Couples in love can also set aside time for a romantic walk along the Prunelli River.
Chapel of Notre-Dame de la Serra
A little harder climb to this chapel at the top of the hill overlooking Calvi will be well worth it when you reach the top and have a drink with a beautiful panoramic view of the city, the azure waters of the bay and the lighthouse La Revellata. On a large rock is a statue of the Mother of God Serra, as a static guard whose open arms greet every pilgrim who visits the island. For added encouragement, local superstition claims that visiting a chapel in the company of the love of your life ensures many years of togetherness and happiness.
In the 1950s, excavations began at this fascinating and enigmatic archeological site. It is characterized by groups of dolmens and menhirs – megaliths, or standing stones – that have been discovered here. For millennia in the past, they represented human faces, weapons and armor carved into granite slabs. Located in an old olive grove, it is believed that the place was used from prehistory to the Bronze Age.
Polyphonic Song Festival
It has been held every year in Calvi since 1989. The Corsican Polyphonic Festival brings together choirs and soloists from Corsica and from all over the world. The tradition of polyphonic singing revived in the 1970s and has since become an important part of Corsican regional identity. Concerts are held in large venues throughout Calvi, including the City Palace, St-Jean-Baptiste Cathedral and the Saint-Antoine Oratory.
For all mountaineering enthusiasts in Corsica is the legendary GR 20, one of the most difficult and beautiful European trekking trails.
Cap Corse, often referred to as an island within an island, is an unavoidable place when visiting Corsica. Here you can see beautiful places in the interior located on the tops of hills, cute little fishing villages where you can always taste fresh fish, also this peninsula is covered with macchia bushes and rocky hills overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Traditional Corsican cuisine is based on locally grown products in the mountainous regions of the island: fresh meat, dried meat and cheese from livestock farms (pork, lamb, veal), chestnuts, honey, garden vegetables, orchards also play an important role in Corsican gastronomy. and various wild plants collected along the way (mint, bitter mint – “Nepita”, thyme and others). Hunting is also popular and there are various game dishes (wild boar, partridges, rabbits and more). Coastal areas are known for fishing, and in addition to many types of fish, you can taste other various seafood (sea urchins, lobsters, mussels…) or wine from grapes grown on nearby hills and olives from steep olive groves.
Corsica is home to excellent, award-winning wines, but the island also produces excellent local beer – Pietra, which is made from chestnut flour. For those who want something “stronger”, there is a myrtle liqueur, ie myrtle berries (Myrtus comunis). If you want to freshen up with a non-alcoholic drink then you can try the Mouss’or drink which is actually apple and caramel flavored soda. Interestingly, Corsica-Cola is also produced in Corsica, which is the Corsican version of Coca-Cola.
Beaches near Porto Vecchio
Some of the most popular beaches in Corsica are around Porto Vecchia, a port town on a beautiful bay. The city was founded by the Genoese and still has the remains of protective walls and castles from the 18th century. Most tourists come to Porto Vecchio to enjoy in one of the beautiful sandy beaches nearby. The most famous beach is Plage de Palombaggia, known for its wide sandy coast and calm crystal clear waters. Another excellent beach is the Plage de Santa Giulia with fine white sand and turquoise blue waters. Both of these beaches are located in lagoons, which provide a protected environment ideal for swimming.