We took the ferry from Livorno in Italy to Bastia and drove directly to Saint-Florent on the west of the island. It was a frustrating hunt for the Citadel Hotel which was nowhere near the citadel and labelled there with a completely different name. The room was worse than the location – dark and dingy, and it was a leaking shower in the room above us that gave us an excuse to move rooms.
Corsica is truly French – baguettes and rosé wine are the order of the day. An Italian influence ensured pasta was available at every restaurant, but so were crepes and wonderful cured meats.
Corsicans are wildly independent, and fighting to maintain it. Road and village signs are multi-lingual in French as well as the local language. On many of these signs the French version has been obliterated with black paint and/or bullet holes.
Saint-Florent is the place to take your large, motorised “yacht”. If it is large enough you can moor it right outside the restaurants on the main street. Smaller boats are relegated to the adjoining quays and require a walk or a ride in the tender.
As well as visiting the citadel and the local beach, we explored the area around Saint-Florent. Tiny villages sit on rocky hills, each with a church. The church of St Michel in Murato is typical with its strange combination of black and white stone.
We drove south on the recommendation of a Dutch couple to see L’Ile Rousse with its beautiful beaches and the Genovese tower and light house.
It was in this area that Pascale Paoli, father of independent Corsica of the 19th century is best remembered.