A succession of historical towers punctuate the coasts of the island. Marking the landscape, they indicate its propensity to defend itself. A refuge for men, Corsica is also home to endemic wild species. A protected but open island. Proud of its preserved identity but also renowned for the quality of its hospitality and its conviviality
The so-called Genoese towers
Facing the sea, 67 of these ancient defensive fortresses are still visible, pricked all along the coastline, particularly numerous in Cape Town. Among the most famous, we can mention the Parata tower in Ajaccio, the square tower of Nonza and the one of Porto (calanques de Piana), the Senetosa tower (Sartène), the Fautéa tower, near Porto-Vecchio, or the well preserved Miomo tower (Santa-Maria-di-Lota). These towers occupy, by definition, sites with exceptional panoramas, and often constitute a goal of excursion for the tourists as well as for the islanders. But why "genoese"? Many of them date from the time when Corsica was part of the Republic of Genoa. The towers of the Corsican coast are thus qualified in a generic way of genoese, even if all do not date from this period, some being paolines, others pisanes, according to the time.
Ports where to dock
Whether you come by boat or by plane, it is generally in a port that you arrive on the island. In the capital, most often. A city of art and history, Ajaccio occupies one of the most beautiful gulfs in the world, against a backdrop of mountains covered in snow until spring. The beauty of the place is matched by the mildness of the climate and the Ajaccian way of life. Stroll along the old port, enjoy the lively market and the narrow streets of the old town with its colourful facades. Visit the house where Napoleon was born and the Palais Fesch which houses the richly endowed Fine Arts Museum. In the evening, enjoy an aperitif while watching the sunset over the Sanguinaires islands. Come ashore in Bastia, the island's second city, with its marina at the foot of the Citadel. A city of culture open to the arts and to the world, a museum town, the French capital of the Baroque, Bastia is home to an exceptional number of historical, religious and conventual buildings, in the heart of winding streets and secret squares. As for Bonifacio, it is one of the jewels of Corsica. This spectacular town on its white cliffs with its houses built directly on the limestone is breathtakingly beautiful. You will enjoy this splendor, the small streets of the fortified citadel, the view of the marina and the breathtaking environment.
Other coastal towns not to be missed
Calvi, a Genoese city, is a beautiful port and seaside town with a strong cultural identity. Capital of the Balagne region and the third most popular tourist town in Corsica, it is animated all year round by a variety of festivals. The ceremonies of the Holy Week are particularly lively. The lower town is built around a charming marina, one of the busiest on the island. To the south, Porte Veccio, a citadel-port built on a vast pink rock with a wide gulf. Today, the city offers us its built heritage and its beaches, including the famous beach of Palombaggia. At the foot of the Corsican Cape, Saint-Florent enjoys an exceptional setting. Its gulf borders the Agriate desert, a remarkable biotope and the centre of the island's agro-pastoral civilisation, preserved under the Conservatoire du Littoral. This seaside town, with its marina and its very pleasant square, was developed in the 1970s to direct its economy towards the development of tourism. It's a winner!
The Cape and its American palazzi
There are 150 of them spread out in the Corsican cape. These majestic palaces, high and elegant houses known as "Americans" dominate the sea and the villages with their high facades flanked by towers, of colonial inspiration with their four-sloped roofs and their terraced gardens planted with exotic trees. They are the work of adventurers, including Antoine-Hyacinthe Cagninacci, born in 1848 in a hamlet in the north of the island, who was expatriated to Venezuela to feed his many brothers and sisters. A small community of Capcorsins, the only sailors on the island, awaited him in South America where the men were employed in the plantations and traded in coffee, cocoa or slaves. Back on the island, fortune made, these Capcorsins built their houses on beautiful promontories. The Palazzu Nicrosi in Rogliano, today a charming guest house, keeps the memory of Pierre-Marie Nicrosi who left in 1852, at the age of 15, and made his fortune in Montgomery (Alabama) with the co-management of a tea room, super service. In Erbalunga, the Castel Brando has become a 4 star hotel. In Rogliano, the old Palazzi of Rogliano has been rehabilitated and now houses the town hall and the post office.
And all the charm of the hilltop villages
On the coast and inland, the hilltop villages are pearls of preserved architecture. Many of them offer charming accommodation, beautiful renovated houses, prestigious hotels, tree houses, panoramic bubbles hanging from the wall or luxuriously renovated sheepfolds. At the western tip of the Cap Corse, Centuri's hamlets form an arc above its navy and its small fishing port famous for its lobsters. In 1757, Pascal Paoli made this village the military port of the independent Corsican nation.
The medieval village of Nonza, perched on a vertiginous cliff overhanging the sea, is distinguished by its remarkable heritage and its black pebble beach. The paoline tower, built in the 18th century on the remains of the Avogari castle, offers a breathtaking view of the Gulf of Saint-Florent. In the Balagne region, Monticello, a picturesque village surrounded by olive trees and built around its pretty, friendly square, is extremely charming. Lovers of beautiful panoramas will climb to the heights to enjoy the landscape of the Reginu valley or the gulf of Ile-Rousse. Santa Lucìa di Tallà, rightly considered as one of the most beautiful villages of Corsica, is another stopover of great charm. Cradle of the powerful Della Rocca lords, this village offers a homogeneous architecture with houses with narrow facades, staircases, vaulted passages and behind the church, a Pisan tower dating from the 16th century. The thermal baths of Caldane are located in the village. Many other villages deserve to be presented here. Discover their heritage, their charming addresses, their good restaurants and their producers to measure to what extent this island-refuge is also the island of good living.
How to get there :
By air - www.aircorsica.com
For a tailor-made trip www.visit-corsica.com/fre/Mon-sejour-en-Corse