Corsica may technically be the southernmost region of France, but it’s a world apart from the cosmopolitan splendor of Paris and the laid-back luxury of the Riviera. This rocky island has its own language, its own flora and fauna, and a cultural history unlike any other region in Europe. Corsica is sun-baked and sea-shocked, with an understandable chip on its shoulder: after all, it was somehow sold to France by the Italian state of Genoa in the 18th century, even after enjoying 14 years of national independence from any neighbouring land mass. The strained relationship with France and geographical distance has helped to limit tourism and preserve its uniquely rugged terrain, but intrepid travelers who venture into Corsica are rewarded with truly delightful sites, including these seven highlights.
Embodying the lively and colorful north coast of Corsica, Bastia is a busy port and seaside community that celebrates traditional Mediterranean culture. The Place St-Nicolas, adjacent to the wharf, makes a good jumping off point, where you can spy ferries coming and going from all directions. Bastia has more than its fair share of churches, from the ornate 18th century Chapelle de l’Immaculée Conception to the Rococo Chapelle Sainte-Croix, and the 15th century Sainte-Marie, with its solid silver statue of the Virgin Mary. When you’re on your way out of town, be sure to stop into the botanical Parc de Saleccia for a stroll through a stunning selection of native Corsican flowers and trees.