FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Mediterranean Allure: Explore the Enigmatic Enchantment of Corsica

by Ron Bernthal

Nov 30, 2023

© Nancy Pauwels | Dreamstime.com

November 2023

Corsica with steep, gray cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean and sandy beaches attracting summer visitors, is a French-governed island sometimes confused with Sardinia and Sicily, Italian islands to the south. Fortunately, all three islands share the same love for good wine, food and sun-splashed beaches.

Corsica boasts two main cities — Ajaccio with about 70,000 residents and Bastia with 48,000 — plus hundreds of small towns and villages scattered in the mountains (20 peaks rise above 6,500 feet) and along the stunning coast, each with its own unique neighborhoods.

Ajaccio, the island’s capital and birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, sits on the southwest coast. The city offers several
interesting districts, including Plage Saint-François, a Mediterranean beach in the city center, with the famous Citadel as a backdrop. Locals go to relax at the beach while out shopping or taking a break from nearby offices. A short walk from the beach, the colorful Marché d’Ajaccio sells an amazing selection of olives, cheese, ham and much more.

Bastia, founded in 1378 in northeast Corsica, boasts an Old Town filled with narrow streets and alleys where incredible 18th-century buildings still fulfill residential and commercial purposes. Restaurants in the Old Port district include Le Panda Féerique, for French and European fusion cuisine, and upscale Le Divino, serving seafood fresh from the docks. At the LVP Café enjoy good seafood, especially the mussels, in a more casual setting.

Corsica

© Stefano Ember | Dreamstime.com

A one-hour drive south of Ajaccio gets you to Olmeto, a quiet, rural town offering memorable scenes, from cobblestone streets and tilted stone houses to breathtaking views of the surrounding hills. A 20-minute drive farther south lies the medieval town of Sartène, where you reach the Vielle Ville (Old City) area of Maniguedda through a vaulted passageway next to the Town Hall. Explore narrow streets with ancient houses linked by arches, arcades and alleys, occasionally blocked by unexpected outcrops of mountain terrain.

Continue south on the winding, oleander-lined road leading to Bonifacio, founded in the ninth century and one of the world’s most dramatically situated cities. Teetering perilously atop an eroding limestone promontory, Bonifacio provides extraordinary 360-degree views including Corsica’s coastline, the vast Tyrrhenian Sea and the Italian island of Sardinia.

Bonifacio’s Vielle Ville neighborhood sits within a ninth-century fortified citadel, beautifully restored and featuring a fascinating
maze of streets and alleyways. Brasseries, cafés and bars spill onto the pavement; piazzas, craft shops and boutiques show off their colorful items; and churches and palazzi (residential palaces) display intriguing medieval architecture. Enjoy an espresso or bar drink at 100-year-old Café Niçois on Rue Saint-Jean Baptiste, offering plenty of Corsican atmosphere.

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