Hotspots & Cool Things to Do: Wander the expansive UNESCO-praised Regional Natural Park of Corsica that draws active-and-sports enthusiasts with birding, bicycling and hiking abundance, filling your lungs with the refreshing Maquis herb-scented air. Or bask in the comfy bustle of Corsica's municipal offerings: compelling cultural events, appetizing eateries and handicraft shops that specialize in pottery, stoneware, glass-blowing, knife-making and basket-weaving. In the capital of Ajaccio, Napoleon Bonaparte’s 1769 birthplace, a museum with family heirlooms is tucked into his ancestral home. Ajaccio's 16th-century Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, decorated inside with trompe l'oeil, hangs artwork by romantic painter Eugène Delacroix. Founded in 1492, Ajaccio's formidable citadel, overlooking the sea, is an icon. Peer at the sun-glittered blue waves, upon which sailors steer masted ships, deftly maneuvering canvas that is taut with wind, moving dance-like to and fro — a soul-lifting sight to behold. People watch in Place Maréchal-Foch, a public park with regal palm trees, an imposing Bonaparte statue and a stupendous fountain enshrining four Corsican lions. This Ajaccio neighborhood is aflutter with cafés. In Bonifacio, established around 830 and called the city of white cliffs, a natural harbor fans out from a cove. Porto Vecchio beckons with a necklace of appealing beaches. Corte shines with a citadel atop a dramatic rock outcropping. And Bastia is graced with the artistic, campaniles-facade Saint John the Baptist church. Tilt your ear toward Corsican music, particularly its polyphonic choral tradition. Frequent communal concerts bring joy. All over Corsica, at day's end, kick back with a convivial gathering — at an al fresco café or impromptu beachside assembly. If you've chosen your seat especially well, there will be a guitarist or a capellist in your vicinity singing the sun down. Salute!
Foodie Finds: Corsica is blessed with two of the world's most admired cuisines: French and Italian, which have also been married to birth a third noteworthy gastronomy specifically Corsican, using ingredients only produced on this island, their quality and taste affected by the terroir — a just-right combo of soil, climate and region. Eat well here. Prevalent dishes are civet de sanglier (wild boar casserole), agneau Corse (typically slow-roasted lamb with rosemary, garlic and potatoes), river trout, veau aux olives (slow-cooked veal stew with olives), langoustine (a slender, pink-orange lobster that can grow to approximately 10 inches), rouget (red mullet fish), loup de mer (sea bass), huitres (oysters), prisutu (smoked ham), and flan à la farine de châtaigne (chestnut tart). Vineyards and wineries abound — with indulgent tastings de rigueur. Sip a red wine (opt for an aromatic Niellucciu grape or complex Sciaccarellu) or a white (such as Vermentinu). Impacted by the island's swirl of cultures, characters and composition of earth (mostly clay and limestone in the north, granite in the south and volcanic in the middle), Corsican wines can be very good, but tend not to be widely known beyond its borders. Taste herb-infused apéritifs, too. Wander the eye-catching farmers markets for charcuterie (smoky, dense, spicy), cheeses (don't leave Corsica without tasting the preeminent brocciu cheese from ewe’s milk), chestnut-incorporated foodstuff and exceptional honey (sample the many varieties — from the dark amber miellats du Maquis with licorice and caramel flavors to the golden floral-essence miel de printemps). Bees are prized and nurtured and contribute mightily to Corsica's industry."
For accommodation call Just Corsica 01202 703500 or visit www.justcorsica.co.uk