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Trip Report Corsica: One giant rock

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It will take me awhile to complete this report, but to summarize, we loved Corsica and it’s wild beauty. It definitely has a different character and culture than mainland France, similar to how Sardinia and Sicily are different from mainland Italy. (And, compared to those two islands, it was our undisputed favorite). It seemed like the entire island is mountainous, which made driving a challenge. The food and wine did not disappoint.

When planning this trip, I was surprised by the lack of information about Corsica, compared to other places in the world. I guess this goes along with the fact that we rarely heard English spoken in the two weeks we were there in early September, which was fine with us. We almost had perfect sunny and warm or hot weather every day. My thanks to those Fodorites who did post trip reports or answers to my queries.

Itinerary: Sept.4: Chicago-Paris on American, connect to Easy Jet to Ajaccio
Sept 5 Ajaccio: Hotel San Carlu Citadelle.
Sept.6-9 Piana: Hotel les Roches Rouges
Sept. 9-12 Algajola: Hotel Stella Mare
Sept 12-14 Corte: Hotel Dominique Colonna
Sept 14 Levie: A Pignata
Sept 15-17 Bonifacio: Hotel Stella Mara
Then, ferry to Sardinia (1 week), fly to Sicily (2 weeks) & Rome 3 nights

Arrived uneventfully on EasyJet (first time flying this) and took a taxi into town. Our hotel, San Carlu Citadelle had a wonderful location overlooking the Citadel and sea, was recently renovated with a simple, clean and comfortable room #444 with a large shuttered window of the beautiful view. Wandered around and watched men play petanque near the harbor. Felt amazingly good without much jetlag...I swear by those homeopathic “No jet lag” pills. Dinner was at “Da Mamma”, very atmospheric with high stone walls and dark wood beam ceilings down one of the Old towns’s narrow passageways. Other than a very tough rib eye steak (last time we ordered beef) the food was delicious and reasonable... fish soup with crusty bread, a whitefish in a tomato sauce and a fig tart with dark chocolate glaze. Our first taste of Pietra, the local lager beer brewed from chestnuts and it was excellent. Wish we could find it in the States. The local wines were uniformly great. We had Domaine di Pietrella from Ajaccio region.

Skipped the hotel’s breakfast the next morning (too pricey), and instead went to one of the Cafe’s across from the morning market. I loved this market. It was so clean, calm and different from the ones we’d visited in Asia and Ecuador. One vendor encouraged me to sample all the various honeys...I liked the chestnut one and one from the mountains around Sartene, “ Miel des montagnes de l’Alta Rocca”, which I bought to take home. Then bought a variety of olives, white peaches, and delicious strawberries. We simply walked around the narrow streets of Old Town, very charming, and the harbor area backed by mountains with cruise ships and ferries docked was picturesque.
We didn’t feel like touring Napoleon’s house. I wanted some local music so got a CD (after listening to several) of Il Mirvana, a polyphonic group who uses electronic instruments (not just voices) for a more modern sound. We ate lunch at the beautiful dining room of the Grand Cafe Napolean...tall floor- to -ceiling French windows overlooked a tree-shaded courtyard, sunlight streaming onto the black & white terrazzo stone floors, stucco wall crests and ornamental beamed ceilings. Great food and and a lovely respite in the middle of a hot day.

Picked up our rental car from Europcar (booked through AutoEurope for cheaper rate). Got an upgraded car, a Renault (5000?) that at first we declined because we thought it was too big. But actually, the footprint was more car size, it just sat up high with a high roof....very good windshield for viewing the mountain tops and comfortable.

We set off for Piana, but I started us off on the wrong road out of town and had to backtrack to join a very congested road. Took about an hour just to get out of town. After that, the drive was beautiful traveling through layers upon layers of mountains looking down upon scenic beaches with rolling waves. At Sagone, we stopped for a much needed break at Dulci Geronomi, known for it’s excellent glace.

Next: Piana

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