Tucked between verdant mountains, Ajaccio is the largest town on the island of Corsica, where plazas are lined with prickly pear trees and the island’s western harbors are stuffed with sail boats. As his birthplace, Napoleon Bonaparte’s presence dominates the city, both in portraits and in street names. As you walk these streets, you can make your way to the Musée Fesch and witness its fine collection of Renaissance paintings or visit one of many cafés to try local wines, fancy cheeses or a signature fish soup known as Azimuno.
The Birthplace of Napoleon
Perhaps the biggest draw for visitors of Ajaccio remains its position as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, the French monarch who built a large empire over much of Europe in the early 19th century. Many of the city’s landmarks and must-see sites revolve around the man, including the Maison Bonaparte, his ancestral home. Walk through the still-furnished rooms of Napoleon’s youth or stop by the Salons Napoléoniens to gaze upon his full portrait and the official register of his baptism. Finally, visit the Musée Fesch to track the history of the Bonaparte family and view one of the largest collections of baroque and renaissance paintings in all of France.
Visit a Unique Turtle Sanctuary
There happens to be a one-of-a-kind animal attraction near Ajaccio that promises fun and delight for the whole family: Cupulatta, a sanctuary and research center in which 3,000 turtles and tortoises live and flourish. The facility houses 170 different species from five separate continents, and the mild island climate almost guarantees they will all be out and about on your visit. Watch the cutest baby turtles break out of their shells at the hatchery and nursery, or simply wander around and witness the wonders of evolution in an environment that is sure to make you smile.
An Island of Natural Spectacle
With many trails, beaches and seaside vistas to gaze upon, Corsica is a particularly beautiful island full of natural wonders. Be sure to hike out to Pointe de la Parata, a headland in the Bay of Ajaccio made of granite and topped with a Genoese watchtower that once protected the coast from pirates in the 1500s. On the way, you will take the Route des Sanguinaires, a winding road along the coast that provides the gorgeous views over Ajaccio’s beaches, through treelines of pine and myrtle. Speaking of beaches, there are more than 20 in and around the city, with plenty of local companies offering watersports like paddle boarding, surfing, snorkeling, and sea kayaking — in case you were interested in a more active visit.
Next Stop: Sardinia
When you finish your day among the beauty of Corsica, climb to the deck of the Splendor and get settled as you make your way to the next port of call: the Roman wonders of Sardinia, Italy. Work hard through the end of the year and you just might qualify to see all this and more at DDC21!