Cruise Infographic by Bolsover Cruise Club
You don’t often hear people saying they’re going on holiday to Corsica, which is a surprise when you realise how beautiful and charming this French island in the Mediterranean is. Its location to the west of Italy and south-east of France makes it a popular stop among cruises though, and if you’re lucky enough to have found a last minute cruise that takes in the island, chances are you’ll come into port at Ajaccio.
A bit about Ajaccio
Although there’s no doubt that Ajaccio – and the rest of Corsica – is French, there are Italian undertones to the architecture, food and culture thanks to the lengthy period that the island was under Genoese rule, with the French claiming the territory in the 18th century.
Ajaccio was originally constructed by the Genoese and as you wander along its historic streets you can still see their influence in the city. However, the mouthwatering patisseries, chic boutiques and charming pavement cafes all scream France.
One of the other unmistakably French aspects of this city are the statues of Napoleon Bonaparte, who was born in Ajaccio just a few months after France seized control of the island. It is obvious that he is still held in very high regard by the locals, with his likeness watching over picturesque squares and entire museums dedicated to his life.
What to see in Ajaccio
When you have the opportunity to come ashore from your cruise ship for a few hours, you need to make the most of your time as there is so much to see in this charming city. Among the top historical sites are the Genoese watch towers that look out over the sea.
You’ll notice these imposing stone buildings on outcrops and headlands as you approach Corsica, with Tour de Capitello and Tour de Capo Di Muro two of the old defences that are close to Ajaccio.
Within the city itself there are many architectural gems – the cathedral, which was constructed in the late 16th century, the Corsica History Museum A Bandera and the Public Library are all worth seeking out.
Of course, you can’t escape the sites related to Napoleon – and there are many. Place d’Austerlitz and Place Foch both boast statues of the ruler, while there is a museum dedicated to his life in his former childhood home.
There is also the Napoleonic Museum of the City Hall, where you can browse exhibits such as Napoleonic medals, beautiful frescoes depicting the Napoleonic era and ornate furniture that was used during official banquets and functions many years ago.
However, a stop in Ajaccio doesn’t have to be all about the history, as Corsica boasts some incredible beaches and there are a few glorious stretches of sand within easy reach of the city.
Marinella Beach, Beach Barbicaja and Ariadne Beach are among the places you can head to if you fancy spending an hour or two soaking up the sun and swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the Med.
All of these locations boast soft golden sand and are lapped by gentle waves – the ultimate spots for some rest and relaxation before you continue exploring Ajaccio or head back to your cruise ship for the next leg of your journey.