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Basking between the fiery orange bastions of its medieval citadel and a glittering moon-shaped bay that’s lined by a magnificent beach, Calvi has a long and venerable history. Locals insist that Christopher Columbus was born here, in the one Genoese city on Corsica that the French could never capture, while Admiral Nelson lost his right eye besieging the citadel on behalf of Pascal Paoli.

Since the 1920s, Calvi has been a tourist hotspot, to the point where it now has the feel – and, in high season, the crowds and prices – of a chi-chi French Riviera resort. Palatial yachts jostle in its marina, overlooked by upmarket brasseries, while higher up, the citadel watchtowers stand aloof.

Come in spring or autumn, though, and there’s a lot to like about Calvi. The beach is emptier, it’s easier to get into a restaurant, and cooler temperatures mean you can hike along the superb coastline.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Calvi.