Hilltop cities and secluded seashores: why Corsica is the Mediterranean’s best-kept secret | Island of magnificence

There are many good explanation why tens of millions of holidaymakers flock to the Mediterranean yearly, however if you wish to bask in solar, sea and sand with out the hustle and bustle, the place’s the perfect place to go? For this wired soul, it needs to be Corsica. The island is among the most lovely locations I’ve ever been – and I’ve travelled to greater than 80 international locations.

Nestled simply north of Sardinia, south of Genoa and roughly southeast of the Côte d’Azur, Corsica is firmly French however cherry picks influences from throughout. The countryside shifts from sprawling and Tuscan – peppered with tall cypress timber – to rolling and English, with fields filled with John Constable-worthy hay bales. The delicacies is a mixture of Italian – with an emphasis on pasta – and French, embracing ripe cheeses and hearty charcuterie. The mountains have a Swiss vibe, with ridiculously fairly hilltop cities, ambling brown cows and shaggy-fleeced goats.

British guests right here really feel like we’re in on fairly the key – we account for lower than 5% of vacationers yearly. And from the primary second you inhale the pine-scented air and take within the thickets of untamed flowers that line the roadsides, a way of serenity enfolds you. A inhabitants of simply 340,000 covers an space 114 miles by 52 and, whereas there are a handful of larger cities, you’ll be able to go a great distance between mountainside villages the place the one sights you’ll see could possibly be a lone canine dozing within the shade of a church, or a bunch of previous males stress-free over a pre-lunch beer.

Climbing within the mountainous inside. {Photograph}: Westend61/Getty Photos

There are numerous highlights on “the scented isle” – so nicknamed because of Corsica being house to greater than 22,500 species of crops, timber and flowers, from olive and eucalyptus timber, to honeysuckle and myrtle, and herbs equivalent to rosemary, mint, thyme and lavender. Ardent hiker? You’ll need to discover the Regional Pure Park, which covers practically 40% of the island. Expertise something from the scenic path that takes within the peaceable, turquoise swimming pools of Lac de Melo and Lac de Capitello, to the difficult GR 20, which runs the size of Corsica and could be damaged into doable, self-contained levels. Strolling at a leisurely tempo, you’ll maybe cross by remoted shepherd’s huts, spot nimble-hoofed mouflons or have an unintentionally hilarious standoff with a wild pig.

Campsites and wood cabins supply the prospect to immerse your self additional in nature, the place you may be woken at dawn by the perky trills of chaffinches, warblers or robins. Pitch your tent at San Damiano, positioned in the course of a pine forest in Biguglia, or at Tenting Monte Ortu on the outskirts of Lumio, which gives each mountain and sea views. Or ensconce your self in a non-public, cosy chalet among the many mountains, overlooking a lake, at Le Chalets de Lozzi in Calacuccia.

In the event you like being soothed by the sound of the ocean, search out a secluded seashore. Whereas the extra well-liked are positioned on the fringes of the principle cities, Porto-Vecchio, Calvi and Bonifacio, there are little finds equivalent to Arone, 10 miles from Piana, the place crystal-clear waters fringe effective sand. Plage Mare e Sole, a brief drive from Pietrosella, gives sandbanks and shelter from the wind alongside its extensive sweep. In the event you don’t thoughts a busier seashore, Palombaggia, in Porto-Vecchio, is among the island’s most lovely.

Ajaccio, Corsica, FrancePlace Foch, Fontaine des Quatre Lions . The fountain with 4 lions and Emperor Napleon by Francesco Massimiliamo was inaugurated in 1850
The statue of Napoleon in Place Foch, Ajaccio. {Photograph}: Yann Guichaoua-Pictures/Getty Photos

Lastly, make time to discover these cities; every is fascinating in its personal proper. This yr marks the two hundredth anniversary of the dying of Napoleon Bonaparte, who was born in Ajaccio in 1769. Tributes to the French army chief and emperor abound on the island, within the type of streets, bars and inns bearing his identify, however his story begins in Maison Bonaparte, a good-looking townhouse simply off Ajaccio’s foremost sq., Place Foch. Right now, you’ll be able to see unique rooms and furnishings utilized by the Bonaparte household, historic paperwork, maps, correspondence and extra.

Two hours drive away is Bonifacio, which sits proper on the very southern tip of the island. Your first glimpse shall be of a hulking, thick stone fortress looming over the harbour, wanting like one thing out of Sport of Thrones. Courting from the ninth century, this citadel homes the “haute ville” – or higher city – a maze of slender, winding, slippery stone streets.

Bonifacio on the Island of CorsicaThe historic district of Bonifacio was built up on steep cliffs above the Mediterranean sea on the Island of Corsica, France.
Bonifacio, a fortress city overlooking the Mediterranean. {Photograph}: akrp/Getty Photos/iStockphoto

Take a ship journey earlier than you discover, which gives unbelievable views not simply of the citadel, however of the intricate granite and limestone cliffs which have had myriad grottoes and inlets carved into them over the centuries (a few of which hid pirates).

Lastly, for a contact of laid-back St Tropézienne glamour, drop in on Calvi, a wise, slick resort city. Eat seafood at one of many conventional eating places on Quai Landry, and watch the yachts bob up and down within the harbour … whilst you congratulate your self on visiting one of the vital alluring locations within the Mediterranean.

Discover out extra details about Corsica at go to.corsica

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