A jewel of an island in the Mediterranean Sea, Corsica belongs to France and has all the beauty of the mainland’s Riviera — without the crowds. And although it may be a French island, Corsicans have a fierce local identity, and the culture and traditions that go along with it. The town of Calvi, in the Balagne region on the northwest coast of the island, is known for its historic citadel and pedestrian-friendly old town. You can also spend time exploring the island's sandy beaches and surrounding villages.
What We Love
Pigna and Sant’Antonino: These two beautiful hilltop villages are a short, scenic drive from Calvi’s center and provide stunning views of Corsica’s northern coast. Wander through the pedestrian-only, narrow stone streets of Sant’Antonino. It’s one of the island’s oldest villages, dating back to the ninth century, and it’s well worth the trip. In the 1960s, young artisans set up shop in Pigna, fully restoring the village and reviving its ancient crafts. Now, inviting shops and artist workshops line the steep and vibrant cobblestone streets.
The Maquis: The fragrance of Corsica hits you as soon as you step onto the pier. The aromatic herbs and flowers blanket large swaths of the mountainous island. In the thick shrubbery, you’ll find (and smell) everything from herbs like rosemary, juniper, eucalyptus, lavender, and laurel to wild asparagus and more than a dozen aromatic native Corsican wildflowers. Locals use the herbs to season cheese and other dishes. Pick up a jar of Corsican honey or a packet of the local seasoning as a souvenir.
Best Known For
Medieval Citadel: Head to this imposing 15th-century fortress that sits high atop the coastal town, where you can tour the preserved citadel and the bustling market below. Don’t miss the statues dedicated to the island’s most legendary resident — Christopher Columbus. The tiny town claims to be the birthplace of the famed explorer, back when the island was part of the Genoese empire.
Its Beaches: The 5-mile-long main stretch of sand is one of the island’s most beautiful. Relax on the crescent-shaped beach as the bright blue waters of the Mediterranean lap against the white sand. Plus, it’s sunny an average of 300 days per year here.
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Who It's Best For
Foodies: Spend the afternoon relaxing over a leisurely meal at one of Calvi’s harborside restaurants, where you can sample the local cheeses, charcuterie, seafood, and seasonal produce, plus Corsican olive oil and wine.
Wanderers: It's easy to get lost (in a good way) among the cobblestone streets of the old city or the villages perched above. There's also a small train that runs along nearly 50 miles of the beautiful coastline from Calvi to L'Île-Rousse.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It's a Tender Port: Ships drop anchor in the Bay of Calvi and ferry guests to town.
One Day Goes by Quickly: There is plenty to do in port, and organized shore excursions may seem too rushed. If you’re like us, you’ll leave this island feeling like you needed more time to actually see the sights.
Kristen Boatright is the New York City-based senior video editor of ShermansCruise.com.