If I’d been asked a few years ago to make a list of travel destinations I knew little or nothing about, Corsica would have been quite near the top. There are certainly more exotic places – China, India, and surely many places in the Pacific Islands – but they seem more “accessible” to the travel mind than “wild” Corsica.
Admittedly, my pre-trip visions were confined to an odd mix of Napoleon, pirates, and the occasional wild boar. Which were all quickly disbanded (except the boar, they’re scary as heck), when we took a ferry from Sardinia to Bonifacio (Corsica) on the last leg of our honeymoon this past July.
Driving up the western side of the island, we stayed at a “rustic” hotel just outside Porticcio (read: budget). And even though we didn’t come across any modern-day pirates, the scenery was indeed a bit “savage” – miles & miles of tree-lined mountains broken up by the occasional, gorgeous, hilltown.
Porticcio itself is a coastal town and very much a glamorous getaway (they’ve got a Sofitel Thalassa, for pete’s sake) from grittier Ajaccio which lies 20 minutes to the north. Beyond being seduced by the sandy beaches and turquoise waters, we were pleased to stumble-upon another local gem we hadn’t counted on: wine.
We tasted whites, reds, and rosés, and even got a little up-close-and-personal with a few of their farm animals. The visit was, in a word, (très) charming.
And staying at a budget accommodation meant that we were able to splurge on dinners and local products – particularly dried & cured meats (salamis & lonzo), goat cheeses, and Corsican liqueurs – not to mention a few bottles from Capitoro & a sparkling Muscato (what makes les femmes go crazy…according to one “knowledgeable” Corsican who, surprisingly, spoke very good Italian).
But a small word of warning for any would-be island travelers: although the era of pirates has clearly passed, a bit of the “wild side” still remains -expect to pay for almost everything in cash.
So if you find yourself at a village-dinner high in the hills of Corsica, make sure to leave your credit cards at home. Thankfully we didn’t have to wash any dishes, but it certainly made me wonder whether ordering that extra crème brûlée was a good idea. Well… I think we all know the answer to that one. Bien sûr! Of course it was!
Learn More about Corsica Travel & Ajaccio Wines:
Corsica Travel Guide – Lonely Planet
High in the Hills of Corsica – NY Times
Best Beaches on Corsica – Telegraph Travel
Why Go France – Corsica
Ajaccio Wine Appellation – Wine Travel Guides
Map of Ajaccio Wine Region – Vinopedia