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Corsica Travel Guide

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  • Photo: Pixachi / Shutterstock

Plan Your Corsica Vacation

"The best way to know Corsica," according to Napoléon, "is to be born there." Not everyone has had his luck, so chances are you'll be arriving on the overnight ferry from Marseille or flying in from Paris or Rome to discover "the Isle of Beauty." This vertical chalky granite world of its own, rising in the Mediterranean between Provence and Tuscany, remains France's very own Wild West: a powerful

natural setting and, literally, a breath of fresh air.

Corsica's strategic location 168 km (105 miles) south of Monaco and 81 km (50 miles) west of Italy made Corsica a prize hotly contested by a succession of Mediterranean powers, notably Genoa, Pisa, and France. Their vestiges remain: the city-state of Genoa ruled Corsica for more than 200 years, leaving impressive citadels, churches, bridges, and nearly 100 medieval watchtowers around the island's coastline. The Italian influence is also apparent in village architecture and in the Corsican language: a combination of Italian, Tuscan dialect, and Latin.

Corsica gives an impression of immensity, seeming far larger than its 215-km (133-mile) length and 81-km (50-mile) width, partly because its rugged, mountainous terrain makes for very slow traveling and partly because the landscape and the culture vary greatly from one microregion to another. Much of the terrain of Corsica that is not wooded or cultivated is covered with a dense thicket of undergrowth, which along with chestnut trees makes up the maquis, a variety of wild and aromatic plants including lavender, myrtle, and heather that gave Corsica one of its sobriquets, "the perfumed isle."

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Island Hiking From a stroll in the countryside to an overnight hike in the mountains, Corsica offers more than 100 peaks and scenic trails, including the famous 201-km (125-mile) "GR20" trek across the island.
  2. Water Adventures The warm and crystal waters here are ideal for snorkeling, diving, boating, and windsurfing.
  3. Rich Cuisine Blending French specialties with Italian cuisine, Corsica tempts the palate with the rich flavors of honey, chestnuts, wine, and Brin d'Amour cheese.
  4. Coastal Drives These curvy mountain roads, skirted by turquoise waters, are not to be missed.
  5. Cultural Exploration Dotting the island are chapels, towers, and more than 350 villages framed by fields of grazing goats and sheep. Corsica's cultural treasures, preserved through centuries of tradition, find expression in the island's art, music, food, and festivals.

When To Go

When to Go

The best time to visit Corsica is fall or spring, when the weather is cool. Most Corsican culinary specialties are at their best between October...

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