Called “Kalliste” by the Greeks and “Cyrnos” by the Romans, Corsica is one of the three large Mediterranean islands after Sicily and Sardinia. Corsica is a land of contrasts with steep coasts bathed in blue and turquoise waters, long white sandy beaches, rugged mountains, vast pastoral plains, generous rivers and streams…
Extreme south of Corsica
The south of the island extends over an area of 17,000 hectares of mountainous areas whose highest point reaches 1,314 metres, and contains sites of an exceptional beauty, such as the beaches of Palombaggia and Santa Giulia. The upper town, a picturesque citadel protected by ramparts, is particularly attractive during the summer season and enjoys a panoramic view of the entire Gulf of Porto-Vecchio and its salt marshes.
Porto-Vecchio is well named because it is one of the oldest ports in Corsica. In the 6th century BC it was occupied by the Greeks and then by the Romans and at that time was called Porto Siracusanus. Located on a granite promontory, the citadel of Porto-Vecchio is surrounded by a deep gulf and stretches over a vast fertile plain, yet it remained a real niche of barbarian pirates heavily infested with malaria… It was during the Middle Ages that the “Tête de Maure” appeared, but with the blindfold lowered over the eyes. It symbolized the victory of the crusaders over the Muslims.
The city of salt
At the end of the 18th century Porto-Vecchio had about 1000 inhabitants and its surroundings offered a rich soil with 167 fountains, 18 grain mills, 800 hectares of cereals, 55 hectares of vines, 58 hectares of olive trees and 2000 hectares of various woods.
The mouth of the Stabbiaccu river naturally formis two small pools, and the 10 hectares of salt marshes were exploited at Porto-Vecchio and produced excellent quality salt. About 900 tons of salt were extracted, representing one fifth of the island’s total consumption.
The exploitation of cork or rather cork oak “a suara” was established by Catalans in 1872, 7000 tons of cork were then exported, as well as coal. At the time, this trade was the main source of income for the “City of Salt “.
A rich heritage
9,000 years of history make Porto-Vecchio one of the oldest territories in Corsica. Many archaeological sites bear witness to pastoral civilizations, entrenched in the mountains to avoid barbaric attacks and other invaders. To better protect their houses and families and to watch over the sea, the Corsicans then became shepherds…..
Called “la terre des seigneurs” in the Middle Ages, the region is marked by a tragic past of vendetta between Corsican families and resistance against Genoese power.
A marine reserve
Well-known for its transparency and the richness of its marine fauna and flora, the island’s seabed has nothing to envy the Caribbean archipelagos. The International Marine Park located between Corsica and Sardinia, natural reserve of the Bouches de Bonifacio, extends over an area of 80 000 hectares. It is the most important in France.
With such exceptional biodiversity, the endemic Corsican and Sardinian species are the focus of attention. The Park’s mission is to protect ecological interests by controlling harvesting and tourism activities to preserve marine reserves.
At the end of the Gulf of Porto-Vecchio, from the Chiappa lighthouse to the Lavezzi archipelago, 12 hectares are placed into a protected area along, which the most beautiful beaches on the island stretch: Palombaggia, Santa-Giulia, Rondinara and the Lavezzi Islands.
A natural park
The extreme south of the island is a wonderful example of Corsica’s description as “a mountain in the sea”. The plain of Porto-Vecchio, extending west towards Figari to the Gulf of Ventilegne, gradually rises north towards the mountain of Cagna, the Alta Rocca and its typical villages, Bavella and its needles and then the Incudine, which rises to a height of 2135 m. From the summits, the architecture of the valleys is carved by the rivers, creating magnificent valleys with Lariccio pine trees and oaks trees. The relief, stretching gently towards the sea, gives way to the scrubland, fragrant and colourful.
An exceptional terroir
Corsica is also a land of know-how and flavours. When visiting the island, you travel through territories with culinary specialities whose family recipes are often jealously preserved but served with generosity. The herbs of the maquis flavour meat, fish, vegetable and also dessert dishes. Cured meats, olive oil, cheese and wine are part of our identity thanks to craftsmen who perpetuate traditions and offer us quality products.