Corsica Travel Guide
While it is currently a French possession, Corsica has had a variety of masters over the years. From the Genovans to the Pisans (both city states in Italy), Corsica has had many political overlords over the years, but none have been able to truly assimilate the local culture. You will notice the difference the second you get here from the French mainland, as up to 50% speak the local language (Corsican) competently, and the food is great but markedly distinct. Pair this with heart stopping scenery, and you’ve got the makings of an amazing destination to visit in Southern Europe.
Languages: French, Corsican
What To Do
One of Corsica’s greatest claims to fame is that it served as the home of one of history most notorious emperors. In Ajaccio, Maison Bonaparte was the home where Napoleon’s descendants lived, and it was also where he was born and lived during the first nine years of his life.
From 1682 to 1923, members of his clan occupied this house, giving it an air of authenticity that few attractions can match. While it was briefly trashed by Corsican nationalists during an insurrection in the late 18th century, it was quickly repaired; apart from that, the home is more or less in the same state as it was when it opened more than 350 years ago.
Among the items on display here is a medallion with a lock of Napoleon’s hair within it, and with an audio guide available for a measly 2 Euros, you will be able to gain a full appreciation for this attraction.
Musée Fesch is another sight on the island of Corsica that has connections to the Bonaparte family, as it was started by Joseph Fesch, who was Napoleon’s uncle in 1806. He didn’t get to see his completed museum of fine art, as it was completed in 1837, while Mr. Fesch wasn’t able to get back to Corsica from Rome due to poor health; he ended up dying there in 1839.
Also located in Ajaccio, it contains portraits, rare books, mineral samples from the mountains of the Corsican interior, as well as a bronze statue of its founder.
While Corsica is heavily associated with the Bonapartes, it has been home to organized human habitation since the times of prehistory. Filitosa is a site that demonstrates this fact in physical detail, as there are numerous carved Menhirs that testify to an organized human presence here over thousands of years.
Uncovered in the 1950’s after a farmer discovered the first one in 1946, 20 Menhirs were unearthed, though only five remain standing at this site today. Set among olive trees, the peaceful natural setting creates the perfect atmosphere for enjoying a historical site of this magnitude. Corsica’s historical and cultural assets might impress you, but it is its outstanding natural scenery that will stay with you long after you have departed this magical place. You will understand what we mean by this once you lay your eyes upon Monte Cinto, a monstrous peak that soars from its base at sea level to a lofty height of almost 8,900 feet, or 2,700 metres. While it may not be the tallest peak in Europe, it is one of its most prominent, a statistical category that grades mountains by their vertical rise from base to summit. Popular among mountaineers and photography enthusiasts alike, be sure to not miss it on your Corsican trip. Before you depart Corsica, be sure to save the best for last, as touring Scandola Nature Reserve will provide you with the highlight that will end your trip here on a high note. Recognized by the UN as a Natural World Heritage Site, the Scandola Nature Reserve is a series of steep sea cliffs, promontories and cliffs along the western coast of Corsica that can be toured by a variety of boat cruise companies that depart from nearby communities. Not only will you get the best view of this natural phenomena by shelling out for this activity, but you’ll also get an insight into local geological processes that have led to making this place such a visually stunning gem for Corsica.
What To Eat
Being separated from France by a considerable amount of the Mediterranean Sea, Corsica has developed a food culture all its own, yet due to its proximity to Italy, it also exhibits influence from this country as well. Minestra demonstrates this well, as this soup bear striking similarities to minestrone soup, a popular lunch time meal in the mainland European country that sits closest to this island.
Potatoes, beans, onions, garlic, mangold, cabbage and tomatoes are just a few of the ingredients you can find in the Corsican version of this soup, so definitely try it – it varies quite a bit from its Italian cousin.
Another Corsican treat that you should try are some Sturzaprezi, which is a type of Gnocchi made with brocciu and spinach that is baked in an oven. Serving as an excellent accompaniment to many dishes at dinner time, be sure to order some when you are out at one of this destination’s many fine restaurants.
When dessert time comes around, Cacavellu makes for a great treat. A cake raised from yeast and composed of Brocciu, orange zest and lots of sugar, you’ll be savoring every last bite when you have one of these for your last course.