How Corsica became our NFP (New Favourite Place)
16.09.2007 -17 °C
Corsica is brilliant for so many reasons (none of which include the ferry crossing you’ll be pleased to note). Here are a few of the highlights:
1. The food. Mmmmm. Sheeps-milk cheese, charcuterie of all kinds (yep, even donkey), chestnut-flour beer and cakes, great (and cheap) rose, good coffee…
2. The scenery. One minute you’re in a cute little Mediterranean port like Calvi, the next you come across a quaint mountain hamlet. You can swim in clear, deep rivers or pure-white sandy beaches. You can hike through the macqui (sweet-scented bushland – it smells like herbs), or stroll through picturesque little seaside villages. There truly is something for all tastes.
3. The ease. Corsica is relatively small, and driving around it is easy-peasy. Well, when you get used to the crazy Corsican driving. The island is very close to both Italy and France…when it comes to road tactics, need I say more? However, once you’ve accepted the fact that any number plate ending with a 2A or 2B will drive right up your, um, botty, until a) you pull over or b) they hoon past you on a blind corner on the wrong side of the road, you’re laughing. The road surfaces are amazingly sound, most are safe and they’re all quite fast, making seeing a lot of the island in a short time entirely possible.
4. The people. Corsicans are proud of their island and rightly so. There is a very strong sense of patriotism – they are part of France, but distinctly separate and always Corsican first. The island has a troubled past but no animosity is directed at tourists and we felt perfectly welcome. There is a local language, but the people speak French to tourists (you may struggle if you didn’t know any at all, we didn’t come across a lot of English speakers), albeit with a strong Italian accent which makes it sound even more exotic.
5. The accommodation. Cheap, clean, fab. What more could you want?
Our highlight? A crazy-cool boat trip (yes, I managed to strap on my sea-legs again!) from Tiuccia around Les Calanches (huge red-granite gorges) and the Scandola peninsula. We saw osprey fishing, dolphins playing in the surf and hundreds of colourful fish. We swam in deep, warm ocean off the back of the boat, and were escorted in style by the glamour-captain fondly named by his crew ‘Mister Corse’ (say it with an Italian accent and you get the drift). His motto seemed to be “No Shirt, No Worries”, or perhaps “There’s no such things as a too-dark tan”.
All told, we had an incredible 5 days and wished it were longer. Our loop of the island took us to some amazing beaches, bushland, towns and villages. We’d go back in a heartbeat, and for longer. Even for Mike to swig some more Pietra (that chestnut-flour beer) and for me to jam in a little more of that stinky sheep’s cheese.
"The higlight"...our boat trip to Scandola
A friendly neighbourhood donkey encountered during a hike near Corte
Beautiful Bonifacio, a daredevil feat of a place, built precariously on a limestone clifftop
The "Red Rattler" train we took from Calvi (in the background) to Ile Rousse (and the azure water we took a dip in to recover!)