7 day Corsica itineraryThe island of Corsica is located to the south of France and the west of Italy. Although, geographically this chic island lays closer to Italians, the French have claimed it as their own. Now, it is has the best of an Italian/French fusion.
This itinerary allows the explorer to admire plunging cliffs, charming seaside towns and a mountainous interior that makes up a total of two-thirds of the island.
Day 1: Ajaccio
The town, as you’d expect, makes much of the fact that Napoleon Bonaparte was born here, and a visit to the modest house where he was born is worth an hour of your time. Elsewhere in the town there are a couple of good museums, some good shopping to be done in the Rue Bonaparte and Boulevard du Roi Jerome, and dozens of pavement cafes where you can sit and watch the Corsicans amble past.
For the gastronomically inclined, there is a fish market every morning in the Place Foch, and a daily open market selling enticing Corsican produce next to the town hall. For eating out in the evening there are few places better than L’Altru Versu (2km west of the town centre) to experience what an Corsican cuisine with a stunning sea view. Alternatively you Palm Beach, a few kilometres further west, has great views and a Michelin star, but with a slightly less Corsican feel.
Day 2: Girolata
The Golfe de Porto remains beautifully unspoiled because a nature reserve protects the Scandola peninsular and surrounding waters; above you fly cormorants and ospreys, while below in the crystal clear waters you can see sponges, anemones, and corals, as well as abundant fish (this is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so no fishing allowed).
Snorkelling here will undoubtedly be a highlight of your trip. As the sun begins to set, head for Girolata, one of the few anchorages on this coast that offers protection in the westerly blow. This is a popular spot so don’t leave it too late in the day. Take the tender ashore for a sundowner in the bar overlooking the bay.
Day 3: Calvi
A 15th century Genovese citadel towers over the bustling port and its marina, and along the waterfront crowd numerous cafes and restaurants. Take the tender and spend some time on one of the beaches, or strike out on foot up to the citadel, a strangely quiet and peaceful change from the bustle of the waterfront.
The views from up on the citadel are spectacular, and walking the ramparts you can see why it took the British fleet in excess of 30,000 cannonballs to subdue the fortress in 1794.
Chez Charles, on the opposite side of the bay, offers fabulous Corsican cuisine with a Michelin star, should you feel like giving the crew an evening off.
Day 4: Bastia
Despite this, the old town is delightful (in a slightly decrepit way) So stretch your legs, wander aimlessly, and soak up the ambience of this majestic old town. Stop at one of the bars on the Quai des Martyrs and try the local aperitif – Cap Corse – although it is something of an acquired taste.
The Etang de Biguglia, just south of Bastia, is a wildlife reserve where there is abundant birdlife in the marshes, and where it is possible to see (among other things) flamingos.
Day 5: Porto-Vecchio
Porto-Vecchio itself is a mixture of old and new, with the haute ville being a well-preserved example of Genoese medieval architecture. The narrow streets around the main square are fascinating, and the bastion has a commanding view over the port below.
The main square is flanked by cafes and restaurants, and in the early evening is a great place to watch the Corsicans promenade. Here too you will find many shops selling cursina, locally-made knives originally used by shepherds but now sold to tourists.
For a memorable meal, head a few kilometers south to the Plage de Santa Giulia and the highly acclaimed U Santa Marina restaurant overlooking the sea.
Day 6: Bonifacio
After lunch head for Bonifacio, one of the most perfectly preserved medieval fortified towns in Europe. Almost Disney-esque in its perfection, this amazing town at the southern-most tip of the island is built on an outcrop of rock that has the sea on one side and a deep harbour on the other.
Despite the apparently impregnable nature of a fortress on a high rock protected on three sides by sheer limestone cliffs and the sea, Bonifacio has nevertheless succumbed to siege on several occasions. These days the town is besieged by tourists and yachtsmen, but is still well worth a visit because the narrow streets, massive fortifications, and staggering views make this an extraordinary place.
Day 7: Ajaccio
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