Corsica, a mountainous Mediterranean island, presents a mix of stylish coastal towns, dense forest and craggy peaks (Monte Cinto is the highest). Nearly half the island falls within a park whose hiking trails include the challenging GR 20. Its beaches range from busy Pietracorbara to remote Saleccia and Rondinara. It’s been part of France since 1768, but retains a distinct Italian culture.
Once ruled by the Republic of Genoa, then by Pisa, this French island’s strong Italian cultural ties are evident in everything from its architecture – including Genoese fortresses such as the one at Girolata, and Pisan cathedrals like Saint-Florent – to the Corsican language (closely related to medieval Tuscan) and the rustic cuisine. Local specialties include wild boar, chestnuts, charcuterie, cheeses and local wines. The western port capital, Ajaccio, features museums including Napoleon’s birthplace, Maison Bonaparte, and the Musée Fesch, displaying notable Italian Renaissance art.