Corsica – May 2011
We know where Napoleon was born…Corsica, off the last of France. He would love to be there today on this established French island of high mountains, deep valleys, and expansive seashore, all with the right amount of scenic wonders to capture the imagination.
The plane that lands in the town of Bastia is a short flight from the mainland and puts you ready to take a train, a bus, or to rent a car to start your adventure. Or, some bring their own vehicle on the many ferries that come there. Head out from there to hike the many mountain trails, drive the intriguing country roads and visit the ancient villages along the way. Pull into a beach town with a bathing suit, sandals and a change of clothes and begin your love affair with Corse.
This is an island to explore. Each facet draws in different explorers. From snow on the high mountains, to the resulting streams that lead to the sea, this is an island for everyone. A three hour train ride through the mountains from Bastia to Ajaccio, highlights the magnificent views. For those seeking an even more remote look at the island, wind through the mountains to encounter the tiny villages and views that extend as far as the eye can see.
Small Sartene is an example of the jewels to be found. Open cafes surround an open square where families watch their children play. Narrow walkways between old stone houses offer peeks into shops selling local foods and art. The views across a wide-open valley are breathtaking. From there day drives to other even smaller villages can lead to forever remembered end-of-the road experiences, like flocks of sheep slowing your progress as they are taken to greener pastures. As you picnic in the shade of the trees you might hear the sound of a lead goat’s bell clanging as the many goats hidden by the forrest pass by.
Ajaccio, the capital where Napoleon Bonaparte was born draws those wanting ancient lore, boating, and a fast-paced city life in a deep-cut bay setting…and big city traffic and a smashing museum. Bonifacio reminds of beach playgrounds around the world with its hotels, cafes and an age-old citadel lining a slender peninsula.
Another city on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea is Porto Vecchio. This bustling beach community with all it’s attendant amenities welcomes those settling in for weeks long Corse vacations. To complete the circuit around the island another grand citadel sits on the top of a hill overlooking the thriving town of Corte tucked into a valley in the north. It speaks of the history of Corse: Phoenicians, Romans, Genovese, French, briefly British, now French.
The kind people of Corsica welcome guests and are delighted to show off their island. With superb weather, lifestyles and fine local wines to fit all moods, Corsica is a special island. An island can be very provocative. Take care, you may lose your heart to one.