A Smash-Up of French & Italian Culture
Corsica is a magical land once ruled by Italy and now part of France. It’s the birthplace of Napoleon and boasts both beautiful beaches as well as rugged mountains. The entire island smells of a heady mix of herbs that grow wild here, called the maquis.
Wine, agriculture and pork production are much revered in Corsica, including wild boar. Seafood and fish are also a mainstay, as well as the local sheep’s cheese, broccio. Due to Corsica’s history, Italian food and culture are quite pervasive, making for a beautiful mélange of these two great cultures. You’ll see pigs and goats wandering the streets up in the mountains, yet you will also find France’s largest collection of Italian paintings here outside of the Louvre. It’s a place filled with fierce pride, friendly people, fabulous beaches, festivals and fascinating architecture. Come and discover it all with us!
Arrival in Bastia on the northeast coast and transfer to charming 4-star boutique hotel La Dimora, a former 18th century farmhouse in the verdant countryside where we will be staying for our first three nights.
Tonight, after a rest, we’ll dine at our lovely hotel on fresh Mediterranean influenced food.
This morning, we’ll take a sensory stroll in the Salecchia Botanical Garden dedicated to aromatic plants and flowers from across the Mediterranean basin. This island is famous for its unique grouping of herbs and plants that grow wild in the countryside called maquis, which we’ll learn all about during our walk.
Next is a stop in Ile Rousse for a special treat; a tasting of the traditional tasty canistrelli biscuits, typically made with almonds, lemons and either wine or Pastis. We’ll follow our snacks with a stroll through the quaint morning market which was elected the most beautiful market in Corsica.
Taking the train in Corsica is a real adventure! You’ll embark onto the small 2-carriage train, nicknamed “Trinichellu” by the locals which runs from Ile Rousse along the pine forest to the Calvi beach. Calvi is proclaimed to be the birthplace of Christopher Columbus.
Lunch will be quite relaxing under umbrellas on the terrace at A Candella where you’ll enjoy a magnificent view of the sea and port from inside the citadel.
To follow up on your sensory exploration at the botanical gardens, the Corsica Beauty shop will welcome you for a workshop where you will learn how to make your own moisturizing lotion using the precious and rare immortality herb from Corsica.
On our way back to the hotel, we’ll make a stop in Pigna, a remarkable ancient village with 100 inhabitants, to admire the artisanal crafts which are 100% made in Corsica.
Dinner at the family run la Cigalle restaurant
Enjoy the cheerful atmosphere of a lively Corsican market on Bastia’s market day. The stalls offer plenty of traditionally produced goods combining fragrances and regional flavors. We’ll thentake an audio trip of the entertaining and informative Bastia museum.
Lunch today will be in Saint Florent, in a seafood and fish-focused restaurant, La Table du Pecheur.
This afternoon will be dedicated to the wealth of food and drink products produced in Corsica. After lunch we’ll enjoy a wine tasting in Patrimonio, one of the best in Corsica – Domaine LECCIA. Next we’ll head to Olivier and Laure’s olive oil orchards to trip the mill and taste their olives and honey.
Tonight we’ll enjoy a picnic dinner with a lovely collection of the food items and wine sourced today from the markets, vineyards and farms we’ve visited.
AJACCIO VIA CORTE/CUTTOLI
On the way to Corte, we must stop at the Romanesque church of Saint Michele. Built in 1280, it stands majestically alone on a plateau renowned for its distinctive colorful decor and carved ornamentation. This beautiful Chiesa (church) is classified as a historical monument. In Corte, we’ll visit Corte Museum and trip the town where Pasquale Paoli, the father of the homeland, was born and founded a university. This is where in 1793, Corsica declared their separation from France.
We’ll savor lunch today at the Auberge de la Restonica, a charming cottage style restaurant and hotel just outside the picturesque and remote hilltop town of Corte.
On the way to our next abode, we’ll stop in the village of Cuttoli whose name is derived from the French word, couteau which means knife. Here, you’ll be welcomed by a local knife-making artisan who will speak to us about traditional production techniques of forging metal and shaping knives following the rules of traditional Corsican cutlery-making. Corsica is famous for its beautiful yet rustic knives.
Around cocktail hour we’ll enjoy a Corsican Wine tasting with local nibbles at one of the most ancient and reputable Island wineries, Clos Capitoro, located in the southern part of the Island. Operated by 4 generations of family dating back to 1856, it is currently run by two sisters.
Tonight we’ll check in to the 4-star Palace boutique hotel Domu in the capital of Ajaccio, and after unpacking, we’ll have the pleasure of dining at Don Quichotte restaurant on their specialty, Corsican-style mussels.
The ‘Imperial City’ of Ajaccio, also known as the “City of Coral”, inspired the famous painter Matisse as it does today’s artists and craftsmen. We’ll meet Anne Marie in her boutique who will invite us into her workshop. In the 18th century, ¾ of the population lived off of the coral industry. Anne Marie is now the only remaining jeweler who is still sculpting corals in Ajaccio.
Afterwards we’ll have some time off to stroll the largest fresh produce market on the island, the famed Ajaccio covered market.Next we’ll take an audio guided-trip of the Bonapartes’ ancestral home, the birthplace of the town’s famous son. Then, in order that we remain in total historical immersion, we’ll have a unique lunch experience with local specialties in Napoleon’s grotto restaurant.
Our afternoon today will be free for you to relax back at the hotel, shop in town or enjoy the beach which is just 2 blocks away. Afternoon recommendation: The superb Palais Fesch-Musée des Beaux-Arts, which contains France’s largest collection of Italian paintings outside the Louvre, including works by Titian, Botticelli, Veronese and other masters.
Tonight we’ll admire a magical sunset while having dinner at Brasserie des Sanguinaires.
Founded around 830 A.D., Bonifacio is Corsica’s oldest town. After driving just over 2 hours, we’ll take the short train ride up to the top of a high cliff so we can trip around the town’s ancient fortress. From the Citadel that overlooks the sea and once a defensive fort, one can spy Sardinia, Italy just across the sea.
Not to be missed is lunch at the only restaurant serving exclusively Italian food in Bonifacio. Bonifacio is separated from the Italian island of Sardinia by the 11-kilometer-long Strait of Bonifacio. The two islands were once adjoined, but volcanic activity tore them apart.
After our repas, and a bit of time to wander through the cobble stoned streets and cute shops, we’ll head back towards Ajaccio. We’ll make a stop at the Distillery Vitalba where we’ll learn how they make their organic essential oils directly from the herbs and plants found on the island.
Tonight’s farewell dinner will be with the Michelin-starred chef Simon Roberts at La Nepita .
After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll check out and a transfer to the Ajaccio airport will be supplied.
GG2P always reserves the right to alter the itinerary based on weather or availability as well as exciting opportunities that might crop up!
NOTE -> Not to worry – Vegetarians will be well fed in all cafés and restaurants as well as those allergic to seafood or gluten. Options are plentiful.
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