See the majestic Genoese citadel from Calvi’s pine-fringed beach; then climb up to it and take in the view of the beach and bay from its heights Hear the DJs at Calvi on the Rocks, a sell-out summer dance and electronic music festival Smell the fragrant wafts of the maquis (scrubland) carried down on the wind from the mountains behind Calvi. The yellow immortelle is one of its most celebrated plants Taste fiadone, a traditional Corsican cheesecake made with lemon and the local brocciu, a ewes’-milk cheese similar to ricotta Touch locally made jewellery in the boutiques lining the main shopping street. Look out for the Calvi ‘eye’ motif, said to keep evil spirits at bay.
Capital of the Balagne region and legendary birthplace of Christopher Columbus, Calvi is a former Genoese fort wedged between the mountains and the sea on Corsica’s north-west coast. Its famous five-mile-long beach edged with fragrant pines is the setting for the Calvi on the Rocks electro music festival in July, and is a hub for windsurfing, waterskiing, jet-skiing and paragliding. There are 250km of walking trails surrounding Calvi, and the Pointe de Revellata – a peninsula jutting out into the sea west of town – is a nature lover’s paradise with 300 acres of flora unique to Corsica, as well as a magnificent underwater world attracting diving enthusiasts. A day trip from Calvi to the Scandola Nature Reserve is a must, with boats departing from the port every day.
Calvi itself boasts a labyrinth of picturesque streets lined with upmarket boutiques, and a pretty port with bars and restaurants offering fabulous dining and nightlife. Its vast fortified citadel crowned by five bastions was built by the town’s former Genoese governors; take a tour of the steep cobbled streets with an audioguide (in English, French, German or Italian) and consider stopping to hear the haunting strains of traditional Corsican polyphonic song, often performed in the citadel’s cathedral in the evenings. Calvi’s beautiful sweeping bay can be best appreciated from Notre Dame de la Serra, a chapel perched high above the town.