Corsica and Sardinia
A Corsican/Sardinian holiday delivers on all counts: turquoise Mediterranean Sea, delicious fresh seafood and an impressive array of iconic ports popular with luxury travel. The hot summer months is the peak time to visit, although the mild winter means warm sunshine, and a quieter experience, throughout September and October. Despite Corsica and Sardinia being part of France and Italy respectively, both islands are home to spectacular landscapes and maintain their own cultural identity and charm.
Day 1. Calvi to Girolata
Welcome onboard in Corsica, the ‘Island of Beauty’, and the fortressed town of Calvi. Dominating the entrance to the Gulf of Calvi is the Citadel, high on a rock (calvus), from which the town’s name is derived. The centre is sunny, with palm trees and quaint shops. On the south side is a long crescent beach of fine white sand. It is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island with a gentle slope and safe bathing in the shallow, turquoise-blue waters. The marina is a palm-lined quay on the waterfront where eating and drinking has been elevated to the status of an art form in an assortment of elegant fish restaurants and lively cocktail bars.
Start your trip by cruising to La Girolata. The setting here is grandiose; a fortress on a headland hides the tiny hamlet that is situated right in the middle of a National Park. There are only two ways to access it – by donkey or by boat, the latter being far more agreeable! The beach restaurant sells fantastic fresh lobster. Dine ashore or have the chef prepare them aboard. The waters here are some of the clearest you will find in the Mediterranean. In the evening, there is an exquisite sense of serene isolation. Night at anchor.
Day 2. Girolata to Ajaccio
A short morning cruise across the bay is a great spot to enjoy windsurfing, diving, jet-skiing, water-skiing or paragliding in a beautiful location for lunch. Continue on to Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica, where there are many shops and restaurants to explore in the attractive old town. Ajaccio is also the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, and you can discover much about the great man’s life by visiting Maison Bonaparte, the ancestral home of the Bonaparte family which is now a national museum. Night in Ajaccio.
Day 3. Ajaccio to Bonifacio
Head over to Bonifacio, a town perched impressively high on the cliffs overlooking the waters below. The arrival is spectacular; a narrow entrance hidden at the foot of the cliffs leading into the harbour. The town is energetic with many restaurants and bars, most of which play live music. There is also the Sperone Golf Club whose course bends its way across the cliff tops overlooking the Bonifacio Straits. Night in port of Bonifacio.
Day 4. Bonifacio to Spalmatore
A short trip through the Bonifacio straits takes you to the beautiful rocky Lavezzi Islands. Classified as a Natural Reserve by France in 1982, the islands in the strait between Sardinia and Corsica have been protected from development and are largely uninhabited. From here cruise on to Spalmatore for the evening, a picturesque bay in the Sardinian archipelago of Maddalena.
Day 5. Spalmatore to Porto Rotondo
The archipelago of La Maddalena, is a quiet place of turquoise lagoons, deserted islands and the most heavenly beaches in Sardinia, with barely a footprint to spoil them. Spend the morning embracing the clear waters before heading to Porto Rotondo, a stylish and popular destination due to its sandy beaches and luxurious charm. It is comprised of many elegant shops and restaurants serving fresh, authentic Sardinian cuisine. The area is also a treasure trove for those wanting to explore with the Capo Figari National Park nearby home to hiking and biking trails through the rugged landscape. Night in Porto Rotondo.
Day 6. Porto Rotondo to Porto Cervo
Cruise around the coast to Porto Cervo to moor in the old town and enjoy the area and the wonderful food! Sardinian cuisine tends to be hearty, simple, and served in large portions. The best seafood is to be found on the coast and local specialties include spiny lobster and orziadas (fried tentacles of sea anemone). Inland menus revolve mostly around lamb, wild boar, goat, pasta, flat breads, and the outstanding local cheeses – occasionally all in one sitting. Sardinian wines have been influenced by the successive waves of invaders, with the Spanish leaving the most indelible mark. The full-bodied red Cannonau is the wine of choice when serving Sardinia’s excellent lamb. The Spanish imported Monica di Cagliari (DOC) can be found in dry well-aged varieties as well as a sweet dessert wine known as Liquoroso Dolce. The most well-known Sardinian white is Vernaccia di Oristano (DOC), a golden dry wine that that is popular with fish and Sardinian lobster. The well balanced Vermentino di Gallura (DOCG) is the perfect accompaniment to the seafood of the Costa Smeralda.
Day 7. Porto Cervo to Porto Vecchio
‘The Bay of the Fox’ is a deep bay, well protected from the Mistral wind and is surrounded by beautiful sandy beaches such as “Liscia Ruia”, known as “Long Beach”. Its crowning feature is the spectacular five star “Hotel Cala di Volpe” at the end of the bay, designed by father and son, Jacques and Savin Couelle. This hotel is overlooked by the Pevero Golf Course and on the other side there are the fabulous villas of La Celvia and Petramanna. Lunch can be organised at the hotel or on board as preferred. After lunch cruise to Porto Vecchio, also known as the ‘city of salt’, because it was built on salt-water marshes. The city presents all the advantages of a seaside resort and with its age-old bastion and beautiful marina being particular highlights. The heart of old Porto Vecchio lies within a concentrated area of narrow lanes which attract visitors to the central square and the Place de la Republique, which itself is dominated by a magnificent cathedral. Night in the port of Porto Vecchio.