Corsica

 

If you ever want to vacation on an island, don’t just think of the Caribbean. You do have other choices. Think the Mediterranean ocean, not the Caribbean Sea. Close to Spain you have Majorca which is a very pretty place to go. In that same region is Ibiza, again, a Spanish Island. You have the island of Sicily which is a beautiful and Italian Island. Rich with history. You have another large Italian island of Sardinia which I am told is also very beautiful and just off the cost of Italy. But I want to tell you about Corsica, France. An island right next to Sardinia, but it belongs to France not Italy.

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According to the Great EmperorNapoleon, the best way to know Corsica is to NOT be born there. Corsica’s location is 168 km (105 miles) south of Monaco and 81 km (50 miles) west of Italy. This location has made Corsica a prize of the Mediterranean powers, mainly Genoa, Pisa, and France. Their influence remains. 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 so strong that you can see it in village architecture and in the Corsican language: a combination of Italian, Tuscan dialect, and Latin. A mixture of all those that have ruled here.

The best time to vacation here is fall or spring. This is for two reasons. The weather is more comfortable and the prices are lower. Shoulder season is generally the rule no matter where you go in Europe. And for the food, local specialties are the best between June and October, when all the produce is ripe with flavor and color. Stay away in July and August. This is when the island is flooded with French and Italian tourists. They fill the beaches, jam the roads, and you won’t find a room for rent anywhere. Also this time of year, the prices go thru the roof. In the winter on the weather is the best all year, but you won’t find any restaurants or hotels open.

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Most of Europe is pretty laid back. But you will be surprised to learn that the homicide rate is the highest per capita in France. Not a good statistic to have. The good news though, crime and violence is not usually against tourists, but locals.

To get to the island you can take a ferry from Italy or France. The trip could take 5 to 10 hours depending on where you are coming from. Most of the ships have sleeping cabins so you can relax in comfort on your long ride. A high speed ferry from Nice takes only about 3 hours. You can even arrange to bring your car along for an extra fee.

Now why would you want to go to this beautiful island? If you like to hike, you can stroll thru the country side for a hike in the mountains which cover the entire island. There are more than 100 peaks to hike up to with magnificent views from all of them. There are also 125 miles of trails criss crossing the island.

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If you like the water, the warm crystal clear water is great for swimming, snorkeling, diving, boating and wind surfing.

If you like good food, the food there is a blend of French and Italian specialties. The rich flavors of honey, chestnuts, wine and Brin d’amour cheese are common in dishes there.

If you like day trips and driving, you will love the curvy mountain roads that go along the coast with breathtaking views of the turquoise waters.

And for Cultural exploration the island is dotted with chapels, towers, and more than 350 quint villages that are bordered by fields of goats and sheep grazing in the grass.

Corsicans preserve their heritage every year with art, music and food festivals. That shouldn’t be missed.