Joanne Coughlan

25 February 2019

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Corsica – Home of Napoleon and Paoli

The story of Napoleon Bonaparte is known around the world. A successful military leader, born in Corsica and became emperor of France. But lesser known and more of a Corsican hero is Pasquale Paoli. Paoli led the resistance against the French in the late 1700s, wrote and implemented the Corsican constitution and became the island’s military leader by popular vote. You’ll see more statues, plaques and memorials to Paoli than you will to Napoleon.  But, as this is not an exercise in Corsican history, I’ll let you read up on this topic yourself before embarking on one of our tours of Corsica.

Corsica, with its small population of around 300,000, looks a little like the south of France but that’s where the similarity ends. It feels very different – like you are on an island (which of course you are) and not part of mainland Europe. French is the most common language but many older folks still speak Corsican which has its own dialogues depending on where you are on the island. 

Depending on what your “thing is” Corsica’s fortified old towns are among the best places for tourists to visit. Bastia, Calvi, Ajjacio and Bonifacio have fabulous harbours where you can spend hours sightseeing and learn about the fascinating history. Or simply sit and watch the boats come in and the world goes by. The old capital of Corte – in the middle of the island – has a beautiful square at the base of the fortress. One of the best lunch stops on the island.  

  If you like your food, you have arrived at the right place. The Corsican diet has a strong French influence (naturally). There’s an enormous emphasis on freshness and it being provided locally. Whether it’s local seafood, wild boar from the mountains, herbs and spices from the forests or cheese from the farm next door, the food is guaranteed to be fresh and locally produced.  Oh, did I mention the wine? Check out the local Cape Corse aperitif.   

One of the best and most memorable meals I have ever experienced (I kid you not), was lunch at a family owned restaurant in the little village of Murato. It’s not far from the famous San Michele du Murato church which dates to the 13th century and is a must-see. The owner showed us his pig farm, his cellar, his cold storage for meats and then we ate (and ate) at his gorgeous restaurant. If you want to eat at the same place, come and join us. 

We catch the car ferry to Corsica from Sardinia, then travel in smaller style mini coaches. For more information on Blue Dot Travel’s 2019 small group tour of Malta, Sardinia and Corsica.  If that is too soon for you the same tour is running again in 2020.

By Brett Goulston

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