Corsica is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean, following Sicily and Sardinia (which belong to Italy) and Cyprus (an independent republic). It is actually located only ten miles north of the Italian island of Sardinia and about twenty miles off the west coast of the Italian mainland. Corsica Island is a possession of France, and is located about 110 miles south of the French mainland. Tourism to Corsica is popular because of its pleasant Mediterranean climate, stunning coastline, and breathtaking mountains.

Corsica travel is possible on flights to the island from Europe and by ferries from several seaports in both Italy and mainland France. Mediterranean cruises are another method of getting here, but most of the large cruise lines will anchor (usually at the port city of Ajaccio where Napoleon was born) for only one, two, or three nights.

The ancient empire of Greece called the island, Kallisto, meaning “the most beautiful.” Travelers and conquerors have been drawn to Corsica Island ever since. In 259 B.C., it was conquered by the Roman Empire. After the fall of the Empire, the Italian mainland continued to rule—from the March of Tuscany, through the Republic of Pisa, and until the Republic of Genoa was overthrown during the eighteenth century. It took almost the entire century to oust the Genoese and for Corsica to become part of France.

Your Corsica travel will show you some Roman ruins, but there are even more ancient attractions such as the megaliths of the Filitosa region and that are scattered in more than 30 locations elsewhere on the island. These mysterious stone structures that are found all over the island are as prehistoric and as perplexing as ancient Stonehenge in England. There are more than 200 wonderful beaches around the coastline, offering 600 miles of pristine sand. The rugged mountains of the interior also draw many visitors, and the mountains of Corsica Island come right down to sea, providing dramatic cliffs over the blue and turquoise Mediterranean Sea.

Some Corsica travel is possible only on foot, mountain bikes, or by boat. Hiking and cycling vacations are quite popular, both in the mountainous interior as well as along the sections of coast that are not accessible by car. These coastal areas are also popular diving spots and destinations for sailing cruises. One of the most beautiful is the Gulf of Porto on the western coast about halfway between Ajaccio and Calvi. Here is the Scandola Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and location of the island’s highest mountains The reserve provides sanctuary for two endangered mammals, the Corsican red deer and the mouflon, Europe’s only native species of wild sheep.

Most hotels and other tourist services in Corsica are concentrated around the four largest towns of Ajaccio, Bastia, Calvi, and Porto Vecchio—all of these are seaports with ferries to the Italian and French mainland and Sardinia. However, there are other port towns with ferry connections, and a number of charming seaside villages offer hotels and beach resorts. You will also find some lovely retreats and lodges in the interior mountains. Some of these are vacation rentals in old stone farmhouses dating back as far as the eighteenth century. Even if your holidays call for some relaxing on the beaches, it is quite worthwhile to do some exploring inland. The island boasts vineyards, wineries, and excellent vintages; graceful old Romanesque churches, little stone villages clinging to clifftops, and Moorish citadels; and even a golf course or two.

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