Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

Corsica – The Island of Beauty

corsica

Lying 174km off the south coast of , Corsica is akin to a miniature continent and astounds visitors with its cultural richness and geographical diversity.

Its dramatic mountain peaks and deliciously fragrant ‘maquis’ scrubland converge with precariously perched hilltop villages, glamorous resorts, and glittering turquoise bays fringed with white sandy beaches make for superyacht perfect anchorages.

It’s officially been part of France for more than 200 years, but feels distinctly different from the mainland with unique culture and cuisine – and now with Air Corsica’s brand new direct flights from the UK, you can be soaking up that Mediterranean sunshine within just two hours.

The island’s official airline has just launched its first direct flights from London Stansted, with services to Ajaccio, Bastia and Figari from May to November. The new scheduled services operate twice a week to capital Ajaccio on the west coast, twice a week to Bastia on the east coast, and once a week to Figari in the south (gateway to the resorts of Bonifacio and Porto-Vecchio). Flight frequency increases to nine weekly from June to September and fares start from £49 one-way.

As public transport is limited in Corsica, the easiest way to get around the island is by car; drivers are well catered for, with ample parking places and good road conditions. Pick up a car at the airport as soon as you arrive, taking advantage of Air Corsica’s ‘Drive +’ package with Hertz. To add a touch of luxury to your stay, book into one of the island’s ‘Grandes Maisons’, each beautifully situated and offering supremely comfortable accommodation with a range of additions, from Michelin-starred restaurants to sumptuous spas.

Ajaccio is home to around a quarter of the island’s 300,000 inhabitants, which still makes it relatively compact and ideal for visitors to explore in a day. Get to grips with Corsica’s fascinating history at the Maison Bonaparte (Napoléon’s birthplace) and the Musée Fesch, home to the largest collection of Italian Renaissance paintings after the Louvre. Beautiful architecture and winding alleyways give way to magnificent sea views from the port and seafront, where you can enjoy freshly-caught seafood and watch the world go by.

Corsica is a playground for outdoorsy types and beach lovers alike. Hikers can challenge themselves on the tough north-south GR20 trail while cyclists whizz around the Niolu trails or pedal contentedly from village to village. There are opportunities for horse-riding, quad-biking and golf – and a plethora of watersports all along Corsica’s dramatic coastline, which runs for 1,000km. But it’s not all hard graft: the pristine white sandy beaches and pebbly coves are equally excellent for simply soaking up the sun with a drink in hand.

Corsican cuisine is best described as a blend of French and Italian with its own unique flavours and ingredients, food is taken very seriously and no holiday is complete without market browsing, vineyard touring, and plenty of al-fresco meals at the island’s excellent restaurants. The star products are brocciu (a ewe’s-milk cheese similar to ricotta), chestnuts and clementines, olive oil, spider crab or slow-cooked lamb, and richly marbled charcuterie. Enjoy a wine tasting at Domaine Orsini in Calenzana.

Corsica’s calendar is peppered with numerous events all year round, encompassing everything from cinema and international theatre events to car rallies, food fairs and music festivals. This summer, we’re most looking forward to trendy electro beach festival Calvi on the Rocks (6-11 July), the annual Fiera di l’Alivu celebrating olives in Montegrosso (21-22 July), open-air film screenings in the hilltop village of Lama (28 July-3 August) and parades in honour of Bonaparte at the Fêtes Napoléoniennes in Ajaccio (15 August).

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