Brocciu and a lot of Dolce Vita - Porto-Vecchio and my tips for the mediterranean island
Updated: Nov 3
‘’I could recognize this island blindfolded by its scent’’
Napoleon once said about the island he was born on before being banished to St. Helena. And he was not so unjust about that because, especially in the spring you have that very unique scent of herbs like lavender, rosemary and myrtle mixed with a very salty seabreeze. Corsica is bursting with its green mountain chains and its flowery landscapes. Probably the most famous name for the beautiful flora of Corsica is the ‘’fragrant Macchia’’. A green carpet stretching all over the island and blossoming in the spring in full splendor.
But first let me give you some facts about the island i truly fell in love with!
- Corsica is one of the biggest islands in the Mediterranean. It is closer to the Italian than to the French coast, but belongs to France since Genoa sold the island in 1768.
- In Corsica you can find everything from maritime to alpine, and this in a one-day hike distance! The weather is warm and dry in the summer, but in the mountains you can still find snow in June! July and August are considered as rain-proof. It actually is ;)
- Corsica is also called the island of beauty
- Corsicans would never consider themselves as French and are very proud people
Porto-Vecchio's old town
I spent my summer during six months mainly in Porto-Vecchio, a small harbor town in the south of the island consisting of an old town surrounded by a genuese fortress and a large yacht and ferry port. The old town is literally a dream of the old Italian flair and French savoir vivre. Definitely a place where you should keep your camera strictly handy! I explored these narrow streets over and over again in search of typical architecture and those moments you simply want to hold on to and share. The old citadel with the city gate Porte Genoise should not be missed during a stay in Porto-Vecchio. You will have an amazing view of the harbor from the restaurants next to the Porte Genoise especially at night. But because of its good location the prices here are a few euros higher. I personally recommend the l’Antigu, the restaurant I had to visit twice because the Picanha, a cut of beef called sirloin cap that is very popular in Brazil, was so delicious and they have very fresh and tasty gambas and seafood in generally combined with excellent corsican wine and often grilled side dishes. The place de la république with its numerous bars, restaurants and souvenir-shops builds the center of the town and is also the place where a warm up for a long party night takes place. Therefore, you should go for a strawberry mojito at Le Patio, an open air lounge/bar in the middle of the old town before heading to the one and only club existing in Porto-Vecchio, le Via Notte. The Tropicana situated at the harbor is also a great address for party hunters!
Landscapes and activities
Corsica trumps with a coastal landscape of 1047 km. Accordingly large is the choice of bays and beaches, especially on the south-east-coast between Porto-Vecchio and Bonifacio. Crystalclear turquoise water, white sand and a looot of water sports between you can choose. From jet skiing to paddling and windsurfing or snorkelling and diving everything is represented. We even spotted some dolphins right
next to us on our jets! And although Porto-Vecchio is visited by so many holidaymakers in the high season, you can still find some quiet, often even lonely beaches. And many of them have shallow waters, so that you can walk very far into the sea. Awesomeness!
And if you ever should get bored of daydreaming on one of Porto-Vecchios beaches, I highly recommend a trip to the natural pools of Cavu and especially the Canyoning on the Bavella massif. I did it for the first time and it was so much fun! Canyoning is basically canyon hiking including other cool outdoor acitivites such as scrambling, climbing, jumping off rocks, rappelling and sliding down on polished rocks. As you can see, it’s really all about having fun and sometimes maybe about overcoming smaller or bigger fears : ). Starting point of most of the activities is Zonza, a small mountain village which can be reached regularly by bus from Porto-Vecchio even in the main season (30 minutes bus ride) and offers numerous activities like quad biking, guided hiking, base jumping or climbing and besides that, a beautiful view on the mountain chain Aiguilles de Bavella.
Also worth a trip is the nearby situated port of Bonifacio (40 minutes from Porto-Vecchio) with the limestone plateau to the south and the old town situated right on it. The plateau is heavily washed out at its foot on the lake side, so that the houses are almost like on a balcony and the old town, can be reached via a drawbridge and a zigzag tunnel to the citadel. The panorama, which offers a wide range of viewpoints, shows why Bonifacio has always been a protected port against the unpredictable weather and sea currents in the Bonifacio Strait. Bonifacio was also a center of armed conflict back in the days, which is why she became a fortress over time. Boat trips organized by the port can take you to the caves where the so called Staircase of the King of Aragon, whose steps lead you from the upper town to the sea, can also be admired. At the golf de Spérone, you can find some pretty beaches like le grand- and le petit Spérone that looks like a blue lagoon and right in front of, there is a small island called Ile de Piana, a nature reserve that can be reached by boat and good swimmers can even swim over as I did. Even more beautiful is the Ile de Lavezzi, another island and nature reserve which can only be reached by boat from Bonifacio or Porto-Vecchio. You are not allowed to enter, but it’s a paradise for divers and snorkelers.
Corsican food is delicious. In the Corsican cuisine, Italian, Spanish, French, Provençal and Arabic influences are all coming together and the Corsican people really understand how to deal with spicy herbs! Cheese is mainly made from goat or sheep’s milk like the famous Brocciu and pastries are often made from chestnut flour. Time to try some new things out! The selection of restaurants in Porto-Vecchio is wide ranging from the simple pizzeria to the typical guesthouse up to gourmet restaurants for everybodys taste and pocket. Simple menus offer mostly grilled chicken, steaks and fish and the famous moules marinière, in garlic marinated mussels. Foodporn on highest level guaranteed! And if you're looking for your favorite beer or wine, don't be upset if you can't get it in the restaurants and supermarkets. Corsicans produce their own beer and wine and I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed. It's also simply tradition to take an aperitif before dinner like a Pastis or Cedratine, a corsican liqueur from the bark of the lemon tree, so don’t be surprised if you’re asked for it all the time. It’s simply tradition. And not a bad one ; )
My tips for Porto-Vecchio
How to get there
- Corsica can be reached regularly by ferry from the French and the Italian coast. The prices for a single trip vary between 50 and 100 Euros (1 Person + 1 vehicle), but the trip can take five to nine hours depending on where you come frome and can be booked here.
- Compared to other airlines, Easyjet offers cheap flights to Corsica but only in the main season. The nearest airport to Porto-Vecchio is Figari (30 minutes by car).
- Hotels, apartments and camping sites should be booked at least 6 months in advance and I recommend even more since Porto-Vecchio is a very popular holiday destination and quickly overbooked. It is practically impossible to get a room last minute!
- Corsica is expensive compared to other holiday destinations. A hotel stay of 9 nights in a three star will easily coast you 1’400 Euros minimum. If you can’t afford that, you have also the possibilities camp or to rent apartments and houses on the French site leboncoin like I did, for waaay less money. I payed 125 Euros per week for my studio but you should however be helped by someone who speaks a little bit French as you will have to speak here directly with the owners. Book early enough!
How to move from a to b
- Make sure you can rent a scooter or a bike early enough if you don’t travel in family because it’s pretty hard to come forward with a car in high season. And trust me, the struggle is R E A L. Big traffic jam! Click here for scooter rentals.
- Public transports are regularly available in high season, even on Sundays, but you won’t reach all the hotspots by bus and you’re definitely more flexible with a car or scooter. If you still need a bus, the prices are between 4 and 20 Euros and you can click here for timetables.
- Cab needed? Here you’ll find all the numbers of drivers in the region.
Where to book your activities
Xtrem sud for climbing adventures, canyoning and base jumping:
Jetconcept 2a for jetski tours in Porto-Vecchio:
Diving and PADI courses: