We left London on a damp and chilly Sunday at the end of July and just over two hours later stepped into blazing Corsican sunshine. Our helpful Simpson Travel rep met us at the airport and handed over our holiday folder with a promise to see us the next day. We eventually picked up our hire car after our rep had helped me locate it in the Avis car park! and set off on the short trip to Villa Nielluccio. Very little of the villa is visible from the front entrance but once inside, it was apparent that our wish for privacy and peaceful surroundings had been more than granted.
Villa Nielluccio has a charming rustic appearance made up of mellow stonework surrounded by trees, foliage and wooden decking which at one point opens onto a lovely view of distant mountains. The pool is below the decking and remains beautifully warm due to the long hours of sun which shine on it for most of the day. The interior of the villa was perfect for our requirements – three bedrooms, two double and one twin all with modern ensuite facilities and efficient air conditioning. The two double bedrooms have doors opening onto the pool and deck area, whilst the twin bedroom opens onto the front garden. The kitchen is well equipped with dishwasher and washing machine. The open plan dining and lounge area is extremely comfortable, with two French windows giving direct access to the decking and outside eating area.
Although we had chosen the villa for peace and solitude, the surrounding locale was very accessible and perfect for shopping and sightseeing.
We stopped off en route to our villa at a local spar and bought some delicious local cheeses, baguettes and wine for lunch – it didn’t take us long to realise that most of the produce grown on Corsica is organic with masses of flavour. A couple of miles away, we found a roadside stall with fruit and vegetables to rival those served in any Michelin starred restaurant. The large spar in Pianotolli sells orange pressé which you can squeeze yourself and the nearby boulangerie/patisserie serves up croissants and pain au chocolate to die for! They even understood my rather dodgy French. We discovered the joy of simple organic vegetables and well basted suckling pig on the night we arrived – just a ten-minute drive away. The Ferme Auberge Pozzo di Mastri is in a magical rural setting and dining under the stars in their large garden is as close to perfection as it gets – with blue wine adding to that magic. Yes, it really is blue! And the local Corsican singers were brilliant!
Prior to our holiday we had read about Corsica, and once there, quickly discovered why it is deemed to be the most beautiful of the Mediterranean islands. It dazzles with beautiful beaches, encircling mountains, cliff top villages, ancient buildings, stunning sunsets and delicious food and wine – all of which we discovered during our all too short Corsican holiday. Our favourite town was Corsica’s oldest, Bonifacio, with its cliff top medieval citadel, sun soaked buildings and tempting street side cafes and restaurants. We chose Les Quatre Vents with a cool interior designed like a ship, looking out onto the exclusive and sophisticated yachts moored in the marina for lunch. Our meal in this relaxed hum of a charming global vacation resort was superb, with perfectly grilled salmon and octopus and al dente pasta for the children.
Corsica’s beaches are renowned as some of the best in the Mediterranean with their pure white sand lapped by brilliant turquoise water. We found August to be a really busy time at the two most famous beaches, Palombaggia and Saint Giulia, and were advised that May is apparently the best time to visit, when the beaches are almost empty but the weather warm enough for swimming. When we return to this beautiful mountain island, we will head again to Rondinara Beach, a horse shoe shaped bay lapped by aquamarine waters that was by far and away our favourite.
Perhaps the most memorable day of all was our exciting trip in the mountains. We clung on to the side of the car for dear life as thousands of feet of sheer granite and rock dropped perilously away from the narrow roller coaster bends in the road. The views are breathtaking. We were enchanted by the little mountain villages of Trinite and Zonza and then swam in the mountain rock pools on the way back down. All in all, a day that truly was a little piece of heaven on earth.
All too soon it was sadly time to leave our holiday haven. Simpson Travel had done everything possible to make our visit enjoyable and we are most grateful to them. As we said goodbye to Corsica, we took with us memories of a vivid and individualistic island full of peach coloured skies, turquoise waters, tiny ornamental villages perched on ragged cliff tops – all warmed by a kind Mediterranean sun.