Corsica – Bastia, Corte, San Petrone

Recommendations for basing in Bastia:

  • Probably don’t! Nah just kidding, we only had 3 days and to really explore the island, you need a tonne more, plus a car.
  • Hiring a car.. We read a lot about hiring or not hiring a car. The trains and buses as we saw, were quite reliable but they are infrequent and can limit your day time in a new place substantially. We hired a car one day using “drivy.com” and the ability to have that freedom really helped. Parking appears to be free too. The train through the mountains is magnificent though. If you can plan your day adequately to locations on the train route, I think public transport is a’ok.
  • Fitness – Corsica is known for its hiking. The infamous G20 is there. If you’re staying in Bastia however you should be prepared to hike just to your hotel. It’s instantly hilly as soon as you jump off the ferry, if that’s how you get here!
  • Spend longer than 3 days
  • If you’re hiking, take suncream
  • If you’re hiking, take layers (I notoriously point out the obvious)
  • Corsican food is similar to France however I had a plate at Chez Vincent above the Old Port which plates up Corsican specialities and it was absolutely banging and only €20. Highly recommended
  • There isn’t much to do in Bastia, so I would plan to explore outside of the second biggest city on Corsica island.
  • TOURIST INFORMATION IN FRANCE ARE MONSTROUS TURD BURGLARS – Why oh why is arguably the most important building in a tourist city shut between prominent hours, say perhaps, lunchtime? Here’s a tip, split your shifts better so you don’t have to have your turdy siesta, turds.

The start of our mini Euro (Italy) trip. We can call it a Euro trip as technically Corsica is still a part of France, although there is a distinct feel of patriotism to this island. The people are a cross breed between the Italians & French and seems they picked up the redeeming qualities you’d want. Polite, helpful and rather endearing.

We got the Corsica ferries ferry from Nice (still struggling to understand how they got this name…) and although delayed, we got to our air bnb at a reasonable hour which was stressful due to our inadequate French but we made it! Situated in the heart of Bastia, we had a great location although be prepared to hike to wherever you’re staying, as this part of the island is instantly into mountain terrain. In fact, 86% of the island is classified as mountain.

We used air BnB for the first time and chose somebody who had a certain quirk to her pictures, a unique style, an artist. She was great. Even though she couldn’t speak English, we still managed to have a good laugh in my broken French, probably because it was broken.

Day 1 – Bastia

We realised after day 1 that Bastia really had nothing going on. We walked around the city and explored as much as we could but we were done by lunchtime! The churches within the city were grand, rather than spectacular. The port was cute and quaint and was quite a world away from the ports I’ve been used to this summer. That’s all there is to it really, a paragraph summarising a 50,000 strong populated city.

Day 2 – Corte

Our next day we moved on to Corte, the centre of the island and the only place within Corsica to have a university. I think drinking consummate amounts of alcohol and being a night owl this summer frazzled my brain, leading me to think Saturday was Friday, resulting in missing the infrequent train by an hour. I had a good ol’ tantrum back at the flat like a spoilt babehhh before we caught the next train, giving us 5 hours to hike Central Corsica. The city itself is really pretty, submerging itself in the base of a hill before the Gorges du Tavignano and the various stupendous mountains that arise around you. We chose to do the walk towards the Gorges du Tavignano as we have already been tantalised by the marvel of Gorges Du Vernon. Although highly unchallenging and I’m pretty sure we chose the wrong route, we had a lovely walk through the valley, along the path and doing some gnarly off piste on the rocks in the river. Rach clambered and grappled each individual rock whereas I gracefully leapt through the river like salmon. We even found a small grotto where we went for a dip, to which there was the worst rope swing I’ve ever attempted and ball chilling temperatures on entry. We walked back and found probably the correct route after scrambling through brambles amidst doing our best Rafiki and Mufasa impressions throughout.  A short yet sweet hike through central Corsica but scenery that was paramount to our enjoyment of the trip.

Day 3 – San Petrone

Our final day was Rachael’s choice and a rather good one too. Our fitness fanaticism had hit on this island and we decided to hike up the biggest mountain in our region, San Petrone. To do this, we hired a car off of drivy.com and hit the road. We ended up with a Vauxhall Zafira, which for all you non-car boffins, is a big feck-off family wagon capable of holding 6 kiddies and a driver. It took about 90 minutes to get there, mainly on motorway but a good 20-30 minutes on some bad-ass narrow mountain roads which strike a fear factor into the drive. We did finally get there although parking up became problematic, due to the 70 goats or so blocking up the road. A weird sight and I didn’t think goats were that intimidating but when they square up to you.. Holy moly! We embarked on the hike and there wasn’t much to report. It started with a never-ending forest, similar to Fanghorn before breaking out to a rather delightful view of the centre and south Corsica, where we squatted for lunch (approximately 75 – 120 minute hike). Reaching the top was a bit more of an assault on the quads, with the increase in gradient, although the views were certainly worth it, giving a full panoramic of the entirety of the island. We drove the car off and dropped it back home with our pal, who turned out to be a detective for the Corsican police. We ventured out and after hearing reviews on “Chez Vincent” and their pizza, which is going to be a mainstay in Rachael’s vegetarian diet over here and so headed over. I ended up getting the Corsican platter, a sample of all of their delicacies for €20 and it was blooming fantastic. A good nights kip for our early door ferry to Cinque Terre, arriving at Livorno!

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