A week spent driving and hiking around beautiful Corsica in the Mediterranean.
Highs & Lows
Fresh goat cheese wherever you turn!
Corsicans are rumored not to serve the same quality food to visitors as to islanders. And it shows!
We arrived in Bastia via ferry from the Italian coast. Not far from the ferry terminal, we rented a car and drove to the quaint, beachy town of Calvi on Corsica's northwest shore. The town is straddled by a bay and a huge windswept peninsula jetting out into the sea. With homes and eateries still occupying the old stone Citadella di Calvi, it really feels like a trip back in time. My girlfriend had to work all week from our Airbnb, but I (unemployed for the moment) got to explore the island's beaches, viewpoints, hikes, and yes, the many, many goats. The variation in climate on the island is stunning. On the same day, you can hike through oak and pine forests in the cold, gusty mountains and you can enjoy a cocktail on the warm, sandy beach at sunset. My favorite experiences in Corsica were the hikes, so here are two of my favorites.
In the northern interior of the island, high up in the hills, is a town called Corte. It's the starting point of many hikes in treks. I stopped only briefly to buy lunch before continuing on to the Lac de Melo hiking trail. The road to the trail head took me along a beautiful forested river valley with stunning views and occasional wildlife. At one point, an eagle (or hawk? I can't quite remember) started gliding at the speed of my car just 10 feet above my dashboard, and for a few seconds, I got to watch its enormous wings outstretched like it was on display at a museum. Other times, I would have to share the narrow road with cows wandering from pasture to pasture.
The trail head is situated near a ton of goat farms, so of course I bought some on my way out. But first, I hiked the short but steep trail up to Lac de Melo. When I started, the day was warm and sunny. But I soon learned how quickly the weather can turn in the Corsican mountains. By the time I reached the top, it was cold, gusty, and rainy. I was practically blown over by the strong wind, and the cold rain chilled my hands and face. There is another lake just a short walk further, Lac de Capitello, but I wasn't dressed for the weather and decided to turn back. Part of the hike involves scrambling down a sheer rock face (with the aid of a chain rail in some places), which was nerve-racking given the weather. But I got down safely, bought my goat cheese, and headed home where goat cheese crepes awaited me.
Another highlight from Corsica was Le Fango, a small river south of Calvi. Starting from le pont de Tuarelli, I followed the riverside trail for hours. In summer months, it's a popular place to swim, but it was a chilly day in October so I decided to stay dry. Still, I found myself wanting to float down the crystal blue water and scramble over the rocks and waterfalls. On the plus side, I passed very few hikers and had the river mostly to myself. Downstream ways, I crossed Ponte Vecchio, a pretty stone bridge crossing the river. It was a short day trip, but well worth the time. I recommend this plan, especially for families and people who want to enjoy the wonders of nature. I would especially recommend visiting in summer!
One of those places that everyone should be able to appreciate
Q & A
What would you have changed?I would have gone earlier in the year for better weather.
Restaurant recommendations?Honestly, we never found very good food in Corsica. We've heard from French friends that visitors, even from mainland France, are served lower-quality food than locals. One time, I ordered pasta carbonara that was so bad I took it home and boiled off the sauce to salvage the pasta.
Tips you would give a friend?Hike as much as you can!
Transportation Tips?Car travel is definitely the easiest way to get around Corsica. It would have been tough to get anywhere without one. Be careful on the country roads, though. They're very narrow and people drive very fast!