Being locked inside our apartment for the better part of the last month made me go through my photo archive which has a sizeable backlog of albums I've never gotten to edit & share. In September 2018, we've spent about a week in the northern regions of the French island of Corsica.
It was the last bigger trip with my old Sony Alpha 65 which is with me since 2011. The camera's white balance is completely off, its built-in image stabilization is broken and you can't imagine how many dust spots I had to remove from all these pictures. This might give you an idea of why these pictures were sitting in a 'drawer' for over 18 months.
The conditions during our stay were ideal for sun-deprived Amsterdammers on a vacation; less so for photography. Most of the days, it was clear blue sky and a very sharp sun from sunrise till sunset - while very enjoyable behind a set of sunglasses, such conditions don't offer much 'atmosphere' for a photograph and the sharp contrast between lights & shadows makes editing a pain.
Will all that said, the island is beyond beautiful and its natural wonders don't need much help to impress. So hopefully, you'll enjoy the places we've visited and the pics I chose.
We started the stay in the island's capital, Ajaccio. It has a few picturesque streets in the historic center but overall, there's no reason to spend any extended time here.
Our first trip was alongside the cost to a popular Pointe de la Parata peninsula. There is an old Genovese tower on the peninsula and you get to enjoy views of the nearby Sanguinaires archipelago. None of that is shown on the picture below which is looking the opposite way - towards the peninsula itself. You need to go there yourself to see the real deal.
From Ajaccio, we took a train across the island's mountainous central region with two stops along the way. The first one was a tiny village in the middle of the forest, called Vizzavona. There were perhaps 30 houses in total and the only place that was serving food in the area was a cozy railway pub/restaurant where I had the best crème brûlée to date. I made sure to get crème brûlée every day for the rest of the trip.
We did a hike/boulder up via a rocky river bed. Roughly thirty minutes after we climbed out of the valley a massive storm came in and the basin got completely flooded; talk about good timing.
The next stop along the way was the historical capital of the island, an extremely picturesque town of Corte. It was one of the more touristy places we've visited on the island but still well worth a stop. There are also several nice hikes in the area that are starting from Corte.
This is also where we started our routine of packing a fresh baguette, bunch of local-grown grapes, and a disc of Brocciu - traditional Corsican cheese made from sheep and/or goat milk for every hike. The best snack ever.
After another few hours on a train, we arrived in Bastia. It's the second biggest city on the island with a beautiful old port that used to be a major transport & business hub when Genoese rulers controlled this part of the island. It's better preserved and less congested with traffic than Ajaccio, and the 'new town' district (still several centuries old) built on the hill next to the Citadelle is a true marvel.
In Bastia, we picked up our rental car and continued North alongside the coast of Cap Corse, sometimes also nicknamed the 'middle finger' of the island. Driving around the peninsula is incredible fun. For three days straight I didn't get above the second gear of our Peugeot 207 and especially the west-facing coast offers breathtaking views.
The first stopover was in Macinaggio from where we took the boat to a sleepy village of Barcaggio and then hiked back alongside the coast, occasionally joined by a heard of freely wandering cows.
Next up, we crossed the peninsula to get to the west coast. On the way, hyped by the amazing curvy roads, we've decided to take the narrowest possible road through the hilly central area. This took us to a medieval village of Vignale with pretty much no people and a single pup that was insanely happy to see us and literally gave us a tour around the village. The road through the ancient gate through which you leave the village was so narrow that even our small car barely (and I mean just centimeters on both sides) fitted in.
The next destination was very much a picture-perfect Port de Centuri. On the way south alongside the coast, there are plenty of rocky beaches & opportunities for a quick stop to enjoy the incredible views of the coastline. Marine de Farinole is well worth a stop for its few old streets and a nice viewpoint.
After a beautiful drive through the red rock formations of the central mountain massive (I didn't think anything can beat the driving experience from Cap Corse. Well, this bit did!), we stayed overnight in the secluded village of Calacuccia in one of those places that are still true to the idea behind Airbnb when it started. Imagine a centuries-old stone house with furniture originating in the middle of the previous century with the host who is an old local who doesn't speak a tiny bit of English, farms forest piglets for living, and brings you a fresh baguette for breakfast in the morning.
The next day, on our way back towards the west coast of the island above Ajaccio, we stopped for a half-day hike that took us to perhaps the most amazing place I've ever visited - Lac de Nino. After a few hours of a fairly steep climb, you reach this plateau with a little lake surrounded by mountains where wild cows & horses are grazing freely around. If there was one hike I'd recommend anyone to do while in Corsica, it would be this one.
We've spent the last couple of days we had on the island in the area around Porto, exploring the Scandola nature reserve during the day and the famous red rock formations of Les Calanques de Piana in the evening. Needless to say, driving alongside the coast here is a blast too, albeit the roads are busier than elsewhere on the island.
The last sleepover was in the undulating countryside east of the island's capital, to make it easier to catch our not-so-cheap-but-still-inconveniently-early flight back.
To those interested, I'm happy to provide tips for places worth visiting or accommodation that we were happy with. If you're reading this post there's a good chance you already have my number anyway so just hit me up!