Clinging to the flanks of a rocky pinnacle crowned with a Genoese watchtower, Nonza is easily the most attractive village on the cape’s western coast. With its jumble of schist-roofed stone houses looking ready to tumble down the steep hillside onto the black-pebble beach far below, it fits the picture-postcard ideal.
From Bastia, the coast unfurls through seaside resorts and tiny beaches towards this quaint harbour village, 9km to the north. Wander down to Erbalunga’s cute village square and quayside, casually strewn with well-used fishing boats and tempting restaurant terraces. Narrow alleys lead through shady courtyards to a romantic, 16th-century Genoese tower by the water.
La Balagne Interior
What a difference a few miles can make! Flee the hullabaloo of the coastal fleshpots, grab the steering wheel, jump on a serpentine country road and explore inland Balagne. Hidden among the countless valleys and spurs that slice up the spectacular scenery are cute-as-can-be hilltop villages, Romanesque chapels, olive groves and lush vineyards.
Plage de l’Arinella
If there is one crescent of sand in Corsica you must not miss, it’s Plage de l’Arinella, a serene, rock-clad cove with dramatic views of the citadel of Calvi and one of the finest beach-dining experiences on Corsica. From the centre of Lumio, 6km south of Algajola on the coastal N197, turn right following the signs and twist 2.
Zonza & Around
The village of Zonza (pronounced tzonz) is the perfect base for exploring L’Alta Rocca with a good range of restaurants and accommodation options. Another little charmer is the nearby village of Quenza, cradled by thickly wooded mountains and the Aiguilles de Bavella looming on the horizon.
Vallée du Tavignano
If you have a day to spare, don’t miss the opportunity to hike into the car-free (and much quieter than Restonica) Vallée du Tavignano. Corsica’s deepest gorge is only accessible on foot and remains well off the beaten track, despite being on Corte’s doorstep. From Corte, the signposted track leads to the Passerelle de Rossolino footbridge, reached after about 2½ hours.
South of Corte, the N193 climbs steeply in the shadow of Monte d’Oro (2389m) before arriving at the cool mountain hamlet of Vizzavona. A mere cluster of houses and hotels around a train station, Vizzavona is an ideal base from which to explore the Forêt de Vizzavona, where the 1633 hectares are covered mainly by beech and laricio pines.