Destination Corsica: Why Not Choose… Ajaccio?
As well as having a rich and important history, Ajaccio is also a modern city with many secrets to share. Take a walk in the charming little streets of the Genoese Old Town, discover Napoleon Bonaparte's life story, or simply relax for a moment on the fine sand of a magnificent beach. Culture, nature… Ajaccio has everything you need for a wonderful holiday!
Omnipresent History and Breathtaking Landscapes
Step back in time in the Genoese Old Town: the soul of Ajaccio. Every road and every monument in this area is a clue to the city's past, going right back to its foundation by the Genoese in 1492. The 16th-century citadel is absolutely unmissable. It was originally just a dungeon with a lower enclosure, but was successively transformed until it became this imposing building. Architecture enthusiasts should make a beeline for Ajaccio Cathedral (or the Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral), dating back to the Renaissance and displaying typical Counter-Reformation architecture.
As the birth city of Napoleon Bonaparte, Ajaccio pays an extraordinary tribute to the former emperor, whose presence is felt everywhere in the city. Visit the Bonaparte House Museum, admire the Imperial Chapel containing the graves of his parents, or visit the City Hall, where the emperor's death mask is on display.
If you love painting, hurry to the impressive and sublime Fesch Museum, with its collection of paintings by Cardinal Joseph Fesch, as well as splendid Italian works from the 14th to the 19th centuries (Botticelli, Titian, etc.).
And for an unusual way to explore the city, why not choose the charming Petit Train d’Ajaccio tourist train?
Now leave the old town by crossing Place de Gaulle, also known as Diamond Square, which separates the Genoese part of the city and the new areas. Again, on this side of the city, Napoleon is everywhere! On Place Casone (or Place d’Austerlitz), you can admire a replica of the statue of Napoleon at Les Invalides in Paris, or visit Napoleon's Grotto, where the emperor spent his childhood dreaming of conquests and glory! For history lovers, the A. Bandera Museum retraces the entire history of Corsica.
After this whirlwind of cultural and historical sightseeing, you deserve to enjoy Corsica's simple pleasures. Sip a drink on one of the lively and sun-kissed terraces on the Tino Rossi port, or simply enjoy a moment with nature: fine sand beaches, red sunsets over the sea… here, Corsica reveals its most beautiful landscapes.
If you're able to go a little further afield, don't hesitate to head west, towards the Pointe de la Pirata then the Îles Sanguinaires (Bloody Islands). Famous worldwide for their striking views, these islands are a true haven of tranquillity. It is here that Napoleon I took refuge so he could reflect in peace!
Top 10 Must-Sees
The Old Town: tread the streets of the Genoese Old Town and trace the footsteps of Napoleon Bonaparte. Sample the Mediterranean charm of this area, with its many little cafés and excellent restaurants.
Ajaccio Cathedral: in 1559, the Council of Ancients submitted a request to the Senate of Genoa and Pope Gregory XIII, asking for a new cathedral for Ajaccio. Replacing the Cathedral of Saint-Croix, the new cathedral was completed in 1593, and dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin.
The Bonaparte House Museum: the house where the Emperor was born now contains a museum on the Bonaparte family. Furniture, paintings and decorative items submerge you in the atmosphere of the late 18th century. It is undoubtedly the most unique and illustrative place to understand Napoleon's life.
The Imperial Chapel: forming the right wing of Fesch Palace (in the shape of a Latin cross), this chapel is an official historical monument. Blessed on 9 September 1860, it is the sanctuary of the imperial family. In the crypt, certain members of the Bonaparte family have been laid to rest, including Napoleon's mother and father, as well as his uncle, Cardinal Fesch.
The Fesch Museum: palace built according to the wishes of Cardinal Fesch. When he died, he left over a thousand paintings, items of furniture and works of art. The Museum's collections were later enriched by further donations and bequests. Today, Fesch Palace's collection of Italian paintings is second in size only to that of the Louvre. A breathtaking display!
Place De Gaulle: this square separates the Old Town from the new neighbourhoods. Right next to the sea, you can admire the 1865 monument to Napoleon and his four brothers.
Place du Casone: Place d’Austerlitz, known as Casone Square in memory of an old building. According to legend, Napoleon would often come here as a child. Sheltering under two large rocks (hence the name "Napoleon's Grotto"), the young boy, fascinated by famous historical figures, would dream of conquests and glory.
The old Tino Rossi fishing port: this leisure and fishing port on the Mediterranean is a beautiful place to stop off in the heart of the Imperial City. The many shops, the beaches, and the historical centre will add further charm to your stay.
A Cupalatta: discover the secret life of tortoises and turtles. Unique in Europe, this 2.5 ha park is devoted to the rearing, study and protection of tortoises and turtles from all over the world.
La Punta Castle: a fantastic monument midway between Ajaccio and Paese di Lava! La Punta Castlewas built between 1886 and 1891, by the Pozzo di Borgo family, with stones from the Tuileries Palace in Paris. In a wild, natural setting, the castle sits at an altitude of 600m, overlooking the Gulf of Ajaccio.
A Wide Spectrum of Flavours
Combining the influences of its French and Italian neighbours, Corsican cuisine offers great variety. Many dishes and desserts use sweet chestnuts, and wild boar features heavily in the excellent charcuterie: lonzu, coppa and figatellu will bring a little local character to your plate!
Cheeses also take centre stage: brocciu is a cheese with the AOC/AOP (controlled/protected origin) label. It is made with goat's and/or sheep's milk, which is found in many traditional recipes, but is also drunk in its natural, fresh form.
For something sweeter, tryfiadone, a typical Corsican cheesecake using brocciu, and canistrelli, dry biscuits made with wheat flour, white wine and sugar.
April: The Pays d’Ajaccio celebrates spring
Discover the traditions, heritage and environment of Corsica and the Pays d'Ajaccio. The festival includes: guided tours, polyphonic concerts, walks and hikes, via ferrata and canyoning, cookery workshops, wine-making and gastronomy events.
April: Catenacciu in Sartène
Taking place on the evening of Good Friday, the famous and colourful nocturnal Catenacciu procession is the oldest religious tradition in Corsica.
April-May: Art’èGustu Festival in Corsica
A festival of art and taste, Corsican style. Taste typical Corsican produce from around a hundred producers: olive oil, honey, chestnut flour, charcuterie, cheese, wine, confectionery...
June: Feast of Saint Erasmus in Ajaccio, Bastia and Calvi
Fishermen's associations have made the Feast of Saint Erasmus (Sant'Erimu), patron saint of sailors and fishermen, into a time of celebration when you can taste freshly caught, grilled fish.
August: Napoleonic Days in Ajaccio
Every year in Ajaccio, the Napoleonic Days are celebrated alongside the religious ceremonies of the Assumption. Military reconstructions in costume, shows, marches, processions and a ball take us back to the time of Napoleon's Great Army.
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