Here are answers to basic questions about the Mediterranean island of Corsica.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

about the island of Corsica.

Here are some quick answers to questions often asked about Corsica. Please don't be fooled into thinking that you'll know much about the place when you have looked at any of them. You'll need to dig deeper to get to know this isle of enigmas. Why not start at the

Where is Corsica?

What's the climate of Corsica like?

How do you get to Corsica?

What is the geography of Corsica?

What's the landscape of Corsica like?

Of which country is Corsica a part?

What language is spoken in Corsica?

What is Corsica's flag?

How big is Corsica and what's the population?

What's the capital of Corsica?

Can you describe Corsican cuisine?

What's special about Corsican culture?

Are there books & guides about Corsica in English?

Do Britain & America have any connections with Corsica?

How do you set up a business in Corsica?

Tell me about a typical Corsican village.

How did Corsica get its name?

If your questions are not answered here, then you can search the whole of Corsica Isula or the whole web, by using Google below:

Google
The Web Corsica Isula

Join the Corsica Bullitinu newsletter mailing list

Email:

Join the Corsica Lista discussion group

If you would like to see back issues of the newsletter, then click here.

Here's a poem by Ghjuvan Ghjaseppu Franchi: it says it all!

Island, strange continent,

Old country with new life,

Enslaved independent isle,

Island, hundreds of isles in one.

Other pages: Home | Corsican Websites | Travel to Corsica | Corsica's Climate & Weather | Corsica's Mountains & Coast | Public Life in Corsica | Corsican Gastronomy | Corsican Traditional Music | Corsican Language | Symbols of Corsica | Business in Corsica | British & American Connections with CorsicaNewsletters | Contact

 

Where is Corsica?

Corsica is in the Tyrrhenian Sea in the western Mediterranean, 160 kms south-west of the French Riviera and 82 kms west of the coast of Tuscany, on the same latitude as Rome. Put crudely, Corsica is in the armpit of Italy. It lies 14 kms to the north of Sardinia.

See Travel to Corsica.

What is the geography of Corsica?

(c) Copyright 2004 Lonely Planet Publications. All rights reserved. Used with permission. www.lonelyplanet.com

Of which country is Corsica a part?

Administratively, it forms two Départements and one Region of France. Haute Corse (2B) is to the north and its capital is Bastia. To the south is Corse du Sud (2A) with its capital in Ajaccio, which is also the regional capital and is the seat of the regional government - the Collectivité Territoriale de Corse (CTC). Thus Corsica is in the EU and the currency is the Euro.

However don't forget that Corsica is not France. Iin fact it was acquired by France from bankrupt Genoa under the Treaty of Versailles in 1768. The country had been independent from 1755, though Genoa had hung onto the fortified towns of Ajaccio, Bastia, Bonifacio, Calvi and St Florent. Corsica had been the first country to have elected its parliament - Consulta - by universal suffrage (men and women). Small wonder then, that there is now an expression of the desire for autonomy.

See Public Life in Corsica.

What language is spoken in Corsica?

French is the official language of Corsica, but a large number of Corsicans speak Corsican - Corsu. It has no current legal status and French Government has yet to ratify the European minority language charter.

A growing number of people speak English, but don't count on it!

Mette a casa in corpu - put the house in the tummy (offer a warm welcome)

Corsican is not a dialect of French. It is an Indo-European language of Romance or Latin origin, influenced by Tuscan (the Pisans and then the Genoese were masters of the island for 600 years until the eighteenth century. It was only at the end of the nineteenth century that it came to be written. Being orally transmitted, it has many variations, even from village to village. To the untutored ear, it sounds a bit like Italian and the Corsicans and Italians can understand one another.

See The Corsican Language.

Other pages: Home | Corsican Websites | Travel to Corsica | Corsica's Climate & Weather | Corsica's Mountains & Coast | Books about Corsica | Public Life in Corsica | Corsican Gastronomy | Corsican Traditional Music | Corsican Language | Symbols of Corsica | Business in Corsica | British & American Connections with CorsicaNewsletters | Contact

What is Corsica's flag?

The Testa di Moru, the black Moor's head on a white background forms the national flag of Corsica. The Moor's head with a white bandeau was adopted by Pasquale Paoli in 1762 as the official emblem of independent Corsica. It was inherited from the kings of Aragon, who were invested with Corsica by the Pope in the Middle Ages.

See The Mystique of Corsica.

How big is Corsica and what's the population?

The island is about 183 kms (north to south) and 83 kms (east to west) and covers 8682 square kilometres. It’s basically a mountain in the sea and has many peaks over 2000 metres.

an abandoned olive mill in the interior

The population is about 275 000 people and about half of them live in the two cities of Ajaccio and Bastia. It has 365 villages, many inhabited by less than 100 people. Corsica is the least densely populated region of France, with 30 people per km² vs 108 in France as a whole - and about half the island with less than 10 per km². The neighbouring island of Sardinia has a population of 1.6 million and is only about twice the surface size. Most of France's neighbours have an even higher density: 200 - 400 (except Spain)..

What's Corsica's climate like?

Naturally enough, Corsica has a Mediterranean climate - at least at coastal levels. Prevailing winds are south-westerly, westerly and north-westerly. This of course, varies considerably with altitude and mountain forms. At about 1500 metres it becomes alpine. Don't forget that the island goes from sea level to about 9 000 feet, with a land mass only about 100 by 50 miles. Micro climates give a wide variety of temperatures and precipitation. This is especially true between north-west and south-east, as the main mountain range divides the island roughly in half. As a general rule the north is hotter than the south.

Summers are long - from May till October. Winters can be cold and there's generally snow on the highest peaks until June, but by then, the ambient temperature is in the mid-20s°C (mid 70s°F) and in July – September the average is 27°. The average for the year is 12° (about 54°F) and the most lovely months, especially for those not used to the heat are June and September, but any time of year is agreeable for those from hardier climates.

If you want a current weather picture, clickhere to see their regional forecast for Corsica - for today and the following four days. Meteo France also has other useful services, which you can visit from this link.

See Corsica's Climate & Weather.

What’s the capital of Corsica?

Ajaccio is the birthplace of Napoleon

Ajaccio in the SW is the regional capital and administrative centre, though the business capital (and bigger city) is Bastia in the NE. The capital has been in different places at different periods of history and the capital in the brief period of independence was Corte and there are those that would like to see it become so again. It is where the University of Corsica is located.

See Public Life in Corsica.

Can you describe Corsican cuisine?

The shortest way to describe it would be to say that it’s a mixture of Italian and French, but that leaves out the local peasant cooking traditions, not often practiced as high art. Traditionally Corsicans ate what the produced, reared or hunted. Staples of the Corsican diet apart from fruit and vegetables were chestnuts and chestnut flour, olive oil, sheep and goat cheese, cured meat and game. Wide varieties of wild herbs were, and still are, used. Calamint (nepita) was a staple and many others occur all over the island – rosemary, mint, sage, fennel, for example. Brocciu (a whey-based goat or sheep cheese produced from the autumn to the middle of summer) is the basis for many sweet and savoury dishes: doughnuts and pies, pasta fillings and sauces.

See Corsica’s Scents, tastes and Eco-products.

Other pages: Home | Corsican Websites | Travel to Corsica | Corsica's Climate & Weather | Corsica's Mountains & Coast | Books about Corsica | Public Life in Corsica | Corsican Gastronomy | Corsican Traditional Music | Corsican Language | Symbols of Corsica | Business in Corsica | British & American Connections with CorsicaNewsletters | Contact

What’s special about Corsican culture?

The Corsican language and its many local dialects, it’s use in Chjame à Rispondi a sort of improvised poetry created in a jousting form, normally among men – this is an aspect of the Corsican identity which is jealously guarded even by those who don’t speak it much. The closeness of life to the soil encourages a strong affinity with place and the family and, in a loose sense, clan.

polyphony

Music is central to the Corsican culture and especially a Capella singing in groups, grouped under the term of polyphony. It consists of three parts sung by three or more people (generally men also) with what is often called a fourth voice, or voice of the angels which is called forth from the harmony. There is a rich craft heritage in many domains and art and architecture are rich, but in the sense of a closeness with the surroundings, rather than impressive or costly.

See Corsican Traditional Music.

How do you get to Corsica?

Ferry Ports

Coming by SEA: from France - there are ferries (Corsica Ferries, SNCM & CMN) from Nice, Marseille & Toulon to Ajaccio, Bastia, Ile Rousse & Calvi and other ports, but less frequently;

Coming by SEA: from Italy – there are services from Genoa, Livorno & Savona, principally to Bastia; there are also ferries between Sardinia & Corsica. There are no direct air routes.

Airports

Coming by AIR - there are airports in Ajaccio (SW), Bastia (NE), Calvi (NW) & Figari (S) that have regular daily services from Marseille and Nice (CCM Airlines) and in the case of Ajaccio & Bastia, daily from Paris and the Paris services to Calvi & Figari several times a week; there are services (more frequent in summer) from other French regional airports.

Coming from elsewhere: air, sea, road and rail connections with French air and seaports or Italian ports for onward journeys to Corsica; There are a number of direct flights to Corsica from Britain during the summer, notably Thomson Fly, Excel Airways and easyJet.

If you want car hire in Corsica, then click here .

Also see Travel to Corsica.

Are there books and guides about Corsica in English?

Many. The main guidebooks are Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, Hachette, Berlitz, Cadogan, & Insight. Of course, English writers have been writing about the country for ages, for example, James Boswell in 1768 or Edward Lear in 1870. The best travel book about Corsica remains Dorothy Carrington’s Granite Island.  Please see our books page for a few suggestions.  New titles are appearing all the time; one of the latest is Rolli Lucarotti’s Recipes from Corsica .

Do Britain & America have any connections with Corsica?

Many. Christopher Columbus was born in Calvi (it’s just that Genoa was the occupier of Corsica at the time, high jacked all the records and claimed him for themselves!). Admiral (then Commander) Nelson’s capture of the French held citadels in 1794, led to the creation of the Anglo-Corsican Kingdom (and by the way, he lost the sign of his eye in the process).

Thomas Jefferson

Pasquale Paoli’s constitution of Corsica (1755) made a big influence on Thomas Jefferson (who he knew in London) and therefore on the US Constitution and indeed there towns of Paoli in Colorado, Indiana, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania (plus there’s Corsica in Pennsylvania and South Dakota & Corsicana in Texas).

See British & American Connections with Corsica.

How do you set up a business in Corsica?

From the administrative point of view, setting up a business in Corsica is done in the same way as elsewhere in France – in other words not without a great deal of paperwork and hassle. However the unwritten conventions are a little bit more difficult to pin point, but there are many opportunities for the enterprising, especially in fields where the people of Corsica are not active. It is best to decide if Corsica is the place to live and then to get going on the business plan.

See Appropriate Enterprise in Corsica.

What is the landscape of Corsica like?

A view towards Cintu

Corsica is mountainous and its highest point is Monte Cintu at 2710 metres. It has twenty other mountains of over two thousand metres and the average altitude is 560m. Corsica has the highest mountains and the most rivers of any Mediterranean island. The mountains run roughly North West to south east and cut the island in two.

The coastline of Corsica is 1000 kilometres long (20% of France's coast) and has amazing cliffs, long sandy beaches and many hidden coves. It is almost certainly the least 'spoiled' coastline of France.

The Bay of Calvi

See Corsica’s Mountains, Coast and Outdoor Pursuits.

Tell me about a typical Corsican village.

The typical Corsican village does not exist, if you ask someone about their village, such is the pride they have. Most villages are set back from the sea, about 15 kilometres at the foot of the mountains or in the interior. They are generally built of granite and have many little streets with the houses close together. The farmed land is outside the village and in this case is mainly given to grazing sheep and goats, cheese and wine production. The population is typically  less than 100 people, though many grow much bigger in the summer with holidaymakers and families returning to their ancestral homes.

See Calinzana, Corsica.

How did Corsica get its name?

The mariners of the Phoenician city of Tyre (now in southern Lebanon), the first colonisers of the island called it Kersica (from Ker, or Kir, + cic meaning a pointed cape, or from Kors - a forest, since in those days, it was covered by forest).  Then under the Greeks who followed the Phoenicians, it became Kurnos, or 'covered by forests'. They also called the island Callista (or Kalliste) - the most beautiful.

There is another story that says Corsa, a Ligurian cowherd noticed that a bull from his herd took to the sea each day and swam to an island with rich pastures - and that is how Corsica got its name. Or another: Cor was the nephew of Aeneas (son of Aphrodite & Anchises, her Trojan lover) beloved of Dido, Queen of Carthage. Her neice was Sica. To hide their illicit love, Cor and Sica fled to the island now known as Corsica.

There are other legends, too...

Join the Corsica Bullitinu newsletter mailing list

Email:

Join the Corsica Lista discussion group

If you would like to see back issues of the newsletter, then click here.

Other pages: Home | Corsican Websites | Travel to Corsica | Corsica's Climate & Weather | Corsica's Mountains & Coast | Public Life in Corsica | Corsican Gastronomy | Corsican Traditional Music | Corsican Language | Symbols of Corsica | Business in Corsica | British & American Connections with CorsicaNewsletters | Contact

write to:  mac @ corsica-isula.com

 Managed in association with Corsica Holiday with a little help from Will Keyser