Calvi is not that big that it will be problematic to see it in one day. The "must see" is most probably the "citadelle" (fort) perched up the rock and that overlooks the city. Inside the citadelle multiple walks are signposted to make sure you do not miss the good sights, it's pretty well organised. IF you like old buildings, narrow streets, this is it.
My suggestion would be to park at the entrance of Calvi, in the second or third car park on your right (arriving from Bastia/north), near the beach. Then walk up along the beach and go through the harbour where you will find lots of nice cafes to stop and have lunch or coffee. Then just follow along the harbour side and you will reach the bottom of the citadelle. On the way back, you can go through the pedestrian street that runs just behind the harour and has lots of nice shops, and not just with crappy souvenirs!
Hello Fran and Pierre
As I am writing a little late, you might have already set your plans. Firstly, I am Corsican, I live on the island and I cannot recommend you enough to RENT A CAR or a motorbike as many days as you can. Seriously, it won't be a waste of money, especially as you are going during a non peak period and transport are even more scarce than during July-August. Honestly, you will see so much more of Corsica with your own transport. Driving around on the small roads and stopping for scenic spots or in nice villages, by itself, is a great thing to do. look around on travel forum and I can guarantee you that my suggestion is not a total personal view!
As for which company to use, I would recommend you look on internet for the usual car rental brokers. My wife and I organised our wedding last year and had to organise car rental for wuite a few foreigners and this was by far the cheapest way.
I think the ferry is a nice experience, try to go on one of the big SNCM boats rather than corsica ferries (am not working for them!).
As for where to go, well, it's hard to get it wrong here! Calvi's definitely a great choice, nice city to enjoy for sightseeing and food. given the period you have chosen, you might only have a "mild" weather, so you will have to go beyond the "beach and sea" activity!
Given that distances are not too great, you can see a lot of things from one single spot. From Calvi, I would suggest a little back-country trip with the "stradda de l'artigiani" that notably drives around beautiful "Pigna" village (try the chef restuarant there if you are foodies). Maybe head further north, go through Patrimonio and do some wine tasting, definitely drive around the "Cap corse". If oyu can take a boat trip to the beches of the "desert des agriates" (unless you have a 4X4 you cant drive there), it;s also a must-see / make sure the weather is good for this one.
If you go further south, as mentioned in one other mail, Corte will defintiely give you a different view if the island, "Vallee de la Restonica" is stunning, Lake Ninu is a great hike...
Heading west coast, definitely go fir the suggested visit of the Scandola reserve and the "Calanques de Piana" - yes you can take a boat form Calvi but it is quite a trip. Porto is the usual starting point - hwoever, it is worth checking if facilities are open there at this time of the year.
Further south, please make a stop in Ajaccio and maybe a little boat trip to "iles des sanguinaires".
Finally, Bonifacio is the most popular sight as already mentioned before and the most stunning beaches are around Porto-Vecchio, not very far from there.
so the choices are yours!
If you want more details and pictures, try: www.corsicaexperience.com/places/regions-of-corsica/
Have a fun trip!
In Corsica, a whole region, located between Corte and the Eastern Coast is named Castagniccia, meaning the chestnut tree country; the area is covered of wild and cultivated chestnut woods and orchards. In the area of Corte, and further west, the chestnut trees are more isolated, but they are very impressive with their big trunks (picture 2). The chestnut was until recently a staple food in Corsica’s countryside. Chestnuts were used as floor (pure or added to wheat flour) for bread and pastries, just cooked or grilled as whole fruits, used to make a sort of jam (crème de marrons), or candied for making glazed maroons, etc. . . The bad quality chestnuts were used for food for the pigs. In the past, when food was rare, there were still chestnuts.
Since 1945, the chestnut sales have declined by 90%, and most trees we see in the countryside are old, but beautiful trees, and the chestnuts they produce are mostly “harvested” by the pigs who roam freely under their foliage; that makes wonderful future sausages and ham!
I like a lot trees which have a “personality”, and here are pictures of some chestnut trees of the Golo Valley, where you see that spring is coming (picture 1); they give some character to the landscapes (picture 3), or to the small roads (picture 4). One can well identify the trees, even in winter, with their special shape and their dark colours; near villages, they make orchards and sometimes surround cemeteries (picture 5), a peaceful tree!
Elsewhere in this page, I wrote about St Antonius not Antonius of Padua, the great one; here he is! I was not really surprised to “meet” him here, and I liked a lot to see him, not in the classical representation of resisting against an irresistible temptation, but as a simple pig shepherd! It is known he loved all animals, and the “dirty” pig was one he loved the most. Of course, in Corsica, where pigs are “venerated” (in the way, they make a wonderful base for lots of delicacies. . . ), it could not done less than have a veneration for St Antonius. Here he is, with his pig!
In Casamaccioli, there are two reasons to visit the church, the Santa and St Antonius!
I was not there when the Santa du Niolu is taken out for the yearly procession at Casamaccioli, on 8th of September, every year, for the local fair. I only met her in the church (picture 1), with other saints displayed in niches or on pedestals.
Casamaccioli is a nice little quiet village where a stop at the church, during a walk around the lake of Calacuccia is a good thing to do. The bell tower (picture 2) you can see when arriving in the village is separated from the main building, and there is a striking contrast between this austere tower and the baroque style of the church, with its bright yellow colour and the main door with the Lady of the Niolu on the tympanum (picture 3). The boys were not really interested in going in, but I took a few minutes to have a look, as it was open (usually the churches, now are closed, a pity) as there were workers doing renovation works. I told about baroque? Yes, baroque, like in Italy or Southern Germany, but not as “flamboyant”, somehow “decent” baroque.
Inside, the marble columns add to the colours, there are paints and painted statues all around, but that was not too much; St Roch and St Christopher above the altar (picture 4) watch who is coming in and on the ceiling, painted angels and a nativity also look at you (picture 5). There are many paints and statues in this church, well known from Corsican pilgrims, and the people who com to venerate the Santa du Niolu; among all those saints represented in the church is a special one, who deserves a separate tip :) )
When you walk between the villages, you can pass by nice romantic cemeteries which look like they are abandoned since centuries.
One kilometre east of Casamaccioli, near the sealed road I stepped across one of these nice
places; a small wall circling a field where the graves are just marked by tombstones and crosses (picture 1), still snow on the mountains, green grass, an isolated place. . . . a nice place for a rest (picture 2). . . ! Different types of crosses (picture 3), reflecting different periods, possibly, or different wealth, social status, or. . nothing special. . . It is just a nice quiet place, where your body can relax for a while and your thoughts can wander whilst looking at the crosses and the surroundings. . .
The Cinto area belongs to the Parc National de Haute Corse, and as you are in a National Park, you can expect to see some wildlife; we were lucky, besides the birds, to spot a mouflon (equivalent to the American Mountain sheep), who took his time crossing the trail (picture 2); despite its hunting has been banned in 1953, this animal is rather shy, and you are quite lucky to meet one of these animals, as it has a population of about 500 animals in Corsica.
Some biologists think that the mouflon is not endemic to Corsica, but it is a species which originates from early domestic sheep, introduced in Palaeolithic in Corsica and then escaped and returned to wild state; the domestication was at its early ages!
Well, this one took his time, as we stayed quiet, but it preferred to go away, and soon disappeared in a small valley (picture 3)
There are lots of pigs in the Corsican mountains, there is cattle, there are also sheep and goats running freely on the rocks (picture 4) or the slopes of the mountains. Corsican cheeses are famous and I think that the quality of milk is related to the way of breeding these animals, that means leaving them as free as possible. The sheep you see on the three first pictures are of the Corsican Breed, a breed with long not curly wool, very well adapted to rough terrain conditions; there are about 100.000 in Corsica, but only 15.000 are “officially recorded” in herd books! This breed is one of the few still presenting high variations in colours and stature. They are bred for milk and meat, wool is a secondary product. Those animals are interesting to watch and observe, as they are well adapted to difficult terrain conditions, and are almost as easy on rocks as goats.
And, Ah! Back to pigs! In Corsica, most “domestic animals” run freely around and do what they want, they can give lessons of biology or even sex education (as for most of kids who live in the countryside), but sometimes, they make it wrong. . . there are even gay pigs in Corsica! (picture 5); well, just for fun. . . .
The pigs of Corsica deserve (at least) a second tip, for many reasons, in my opinion!
First, they look quite cute, almost wild (picture 1), and that makes them more than just future food. I must say, I liked to look at these animals, a bit shy (you never know if the butcher is coming!) (picture 2), running freely between the shrubs, sometimes looking curiously, sometimes walking on rocky ridges (picture 3) , or having, like all pigs their bath in a mud pit (picture 4). . . . .
Strangely, in Corsica, St Antonius of Padua is a very venerated saint, you find shrines dedicated to him in villages, on sides of trails, roadsides. . . . and this, with all the pigs around made me think of St Antonius, the Great, the older one, father of all monks, who resisted to a famous temptation, lived like a hermit and is very often represented with swine; the reason for which swine are a symbol in paintings representing him is not clear. Wilhelm Busch (father of comic strips), confused Antonius of Padua and Antonius the Great, and in a strip he featured him, loving that animal, and taking him with him to the Paradise (picture 5)! At the door of heaven, Maria told Antonius:
”Willkommen! Gehet ein in Frieden!
Hier wird kein Freund vom Freund geschieden
Es kommt so manches Schaf herein,
Warum nicht auch ein braves Schwein!!“
(Welcome, peace on you, here we do not separate friends, some sheep happen to come in, why not a good pig!
Corsican are very proud of their ham, sausages, coppa and other delicatessen, and besides the know how to elaborate them, the “raw material” of top quality is a fundamental ingredient which gives them their unsurpassable delicate taste. Yes, the swine which roam wild in the hills and countryside around the villages have a different taste from their cousins bred in industrial farms!
What you see on picture 1 is not the result of some industrial process, but a long work done with skills and knowledge, for the pleasure of the palate of the locals and visitors!
Here, on the road sides, you can meet black pigs (picture 2), but also hidden in the shrubs, when you walk on some path (picture 3), having here different colours, elsewhere, you meet the young generation crossing the street not far from a village (picture 4). Popular wisdom (and great novelists, like George Orwell) talk about the cleverness of these animals, but alas, one day they finish in the butcher shop where you can buy some sausage to take along for picnic in the mountains (picture 5) . . . . .
No, this monastery is not an architectural marvel, but history has passed by, and it was here that the freedom fighters of June 1774 have been hung on chestnut trees! A plaque recalls this when you arrive at the monastery.
A big white building, with the church on the right side and the “quarters” on the left (picture 5), a nice yard with grass and flowers at the back where you can look at the towers. . . (picture 2).
This monastery, is now a “Gite d’étape” (a hostel) still owned by the religious congregation, but run by a “civil” couple;
The church can be visited, but do not expect some grandiose religious art; like for everything, there are exceptions and the average. . . here we are in average, but it is worth, before you leave the place where you slept, to have a look, just for curiosity. St Franciscus statues are there, of course (First and third pictures); architecture is plain, there is something more or less baroque (picture 4).
Albertacce, a small village above the Calacuccia lake counts 250 inhabitants; there are a bit more things to see here than in Calacuccia, and, if not really picturesque, you can look at the churches and their bell towers (picture 1), walk in the quiet main street and look at the coloured window shutters of the dry stone houses (picture 2), and discover here and there a modest Christian statuette inserted in the wall (picture 3).
Many guides report of an archaeological museum in Albertacce, but generally forget to warn it is closed most of time, and this was the case when I wanted to have a look! (picture 4). A local archaeologist made research in the area and he stored all his finds in this museum; there are mainly prehistoric items, from what I heard.
This is an austere mountain village which looks almost abandoned in winter. . . (picture 5).
In Albertacce is a famous convent (other tip) where you can find accommodation.
At the end of winter, the villages are probably not at their best, in the touristy or picturesque way, and they may be more charming during warmer days (or in the middle of winter, under snow), but when you are there, it is worth to walk in the small streets, try to feel a bit of the atmosphere.
Calacuccia is the biggest village of High Niolu, there are at least three restaurants, but not working on weekdays in winter, but you can have some food at the café on the main place of the village (picture 1). My documentation does not point anything exceptional about the church (picture 2), so not a lot to do here, except watching people, like (may be?) an old revolutionary (picture 3) or the local youth playing table football (picture 4). A very quiet place, in fact, as this view of the main street suggests (picture 5); on this street is the tourist office of the Niolu, and you see there is a small supermarket where you can buy some food before going on the trails.
Calacuccia, counting 340 inhabitants, is the administrative centre of the Niolu Omessa canton (county); there may be more people and life in summer, but don’t look for a night club in the area!
On the lower side of the village is the lake, formed by the dam on the Golo River.
Something wonderful for the nature loving hiker is to walk along roaring streams in the high valleys. In spring, when the snow is melting on the summits, they can be quite powerful. The higher Golo (picture 1) is one of them. I like how the water carves the granite, like here, the Viru (picture 2).
I admit I could sit hours, looking at the movements of the water, sometimes with silly thoughts about laminar and turbulent flow, how they go from one state to the other, like here (picture 3), an unsolved physical problem (seriously!). I like rivers, so another picture (picture 4)
The water, like varnish “enhances” the colours of the rocks, and when you look in more quiet waters, you can see all varieties of colours, representing the various rocks the mountains are made of (picture 5); what you see here are “Variscan” rocks, mostly from the “Outer Crystalline Massifs” of the Alps, like Pelvoux and Argentera in France; yes, Corsica was a part of the Alps when they formed, later, it drifted away, together with Sardinia, with the opening the Tyrrhenian Sea on their back.
Elsewhere are a few lines about St Antonius, the Great one and the one from Padua. It is a bit confusing of who you meet sometimes in Corsica. With all those pigs around, you may think of Antonius the Great, but many shrines or churches display Antonius of Padua; at least it is Antonius.
On the Mare a Mare trail, near Muricciolu bridge, is a shrine (picture 1) giving shelter to Antonius of Padua, obviously (picture 2), as he is very often represented carrying Jesus.
Most of the statues of Antonius of Padua are protected in their shelters by thick chicken wire (picture 3), but devotion goes far for decorating him.
There is not only St Antonius in the shrines, you also can see St Peter with the keys of Heaven, but he also has strange handcuffs, (reminder of Corsican Nationalism?) (picture 4).
In some villages you can spot strange fountains, like this one (picture 5) which expresses the religious spirit of Corsican; I do not know who the mosaic represents; note there is no statue in the small niche above.
Fantastic views from every direction, lovely staff, pure relaxation in a beautiful settingmore
Route de San Martino, Pietranera, Corsica, 20200, France
Good for: Couples
Lieu dit Cavallo Morto, Chemin de Finocchio, Bonifacio, 20169, France
Good for: Families