Those arriving by boat to the island will see why Corsica has been called a ‘mountain in the sea’, as it boasts 50 peaks stretching over 2,000 metres.
Cruise travellers can look forward to sailing into a beautiful bay with mountains at the foot of the town. Ajaccio is the islands capital and is most famous for being the birthplace and early home of Napoleon Bonaparte. In fact, the self-styled ‘Cité Impériale’ still carries a grand architectural and cultural air.
The unspoilt island of Corsica combines the best of Italy and France with its stylish and pretty seaside resorts and dramatic mountain ranges.
Ajaccio’s waterside pavement cafes and palm-lined boulevards are the places to see and be seen while taking in the beautiful bay views. Its Old Town, just off the seafront, is less haughty with shady squares and ancient alleyways to explore.
• Maison Bonaparte Musee Nationale: The 1769 birthplace of the town’s famous son has been transformed into a museum.
• Fesch Museum: Home to one of the most important collections of Italian paintings in France including works by Botticelli, Raphael, Veronese and Titian.
• Cupulatta: Just outside Ajaccio, this is a delightful breeding and protection centre for tortoises and turtles from all over the world.
• Filitosa: An extraordinary 8000-year old site with dozens of menhirs (stone monoliths).
• Prunelli Gorges: Walking is the only way to do the magnificent island scenery justice and an easy half-day walk amid these gorges offers stunning views inland and across the bay of Ajaccio.
Ajaccio Tourist Board
3 Boulevard du Roi Jérôme, Ajaccio, Corsica
Tel: (04) 9551 5303.
Many shops in Ajaccio are stylish and expensive (prices of nearly all goods are higher than on mainland France or Italy) selling designer French and Italian brand names. Arts and crafts include local painting, leatherwork, pottery and wood carving. Produits Corse, mostly food items, indicate goods made on (and often exclusive to) the island. Corsican cheeses and charcuterie are renowned.
Excellent cheese and charcuterie are ubiquitous. Worth seeking out are the cannelloni al brocciu (a pasta dish) and fiadone (a type of cheesecake); both of which use the island cheese brocciu. Also good are local fish and fish soup, mussels, and veal with green olives.
When to go:
2.2km (1.3 miles).