Sunset over the Old Town of Bonifacio, South Coast of Corsica Island, by John Walker

Corsica’s isolated, ramshackle charm

You only need to look at a map to understand how difficult it is to reach Corsica, but even that doesn’t truly get at the heart of its isolated charm. Only once you’re on a tiny plane, bearing down on a narrow valley between rocky slopes, eyeing a paper-thin runway as the plane bucks wildly to get into position, do you appreciate just how unlikely it is that you would end up here.

Traditional food shop at Sartene on the island of CorsicaBy Stefano by Ember Sartene
Traditional food shop at Sartene on the island of Corsica by Stefano Ember Sartene

When a friend and I zeroed in on the island last summer, it seemed about as remote as the South Pacific. As it turns out, that’s the best thing about Corsica, which may belong to France, but probably wouldn’t call itself French. It’s been happily existing in unofficial semiautonomy, with its own dialect and written language, since long before its most famous son Napoleon Bonaparte was born.

It’s worth a day trip to check out one of the diminutive French leader’s old haunts: the dramatic city of Bonifacio, its tangle of peach and white houses, cobblestone streets and eroding trails built atop limestone cliffs. But if you want to see the best of Corsica, better stay out of town.

Luckily, a growing list of rental websites has made it easier for small-time property owners to connect with visitors looking for privacy, the thrill of driving up a twisting gravel road to your very own secluded stone cottage. (Gites de France is ideal if you understand French; for everyone else, there’s Boutique Homes.) To read the full article, subscribe to our magazine now by click here.


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