Calvi is Corsica’s largest coastal town, a delightful place with a beautiful beach and a 13th-century citadel once captured by Horatio Nelson. Here you can walk among ancient buildings, sunbathe and dive down for wrecks on the sea floor.
Calvi has always been a desirable location, but in centuries gone by its popularity was more to do with its strategic location. The huge Citadel is testament to this. This defensive stronghold is positioned on a promontory high above the town, and was constructed in 1268 to help fight off invaders. The most famous of these invaders was Nelson, and it was during an attack on Calvi that the British admiral lost sight in one eye.
Be sure to explore inside the citadel’s ancient walls. You will find tightly packed houses connected by cobbled streets and passageways. One of the highlights is the 13th-century Cathedrale St.-Jean-Baptiste. Besides the stunning architecture, the cathedral features a revered crucifix known as the Christ des Miracles. According to local legend, advancing Turks fled when this was wielded at them during a siege in 1553.
Take a stroll around the citadel’s bastions to enjoy panoramic views of the town and coastline, then head back down the hill to the Marina. Stop in a waterside café or restaurant for a seafood dish, while watching yachts come and go.
Beside the harbor is Calvi Beach. Relax on the sand and rent kayaks and windsurfing boards. Calvi’s Mediterranean climate means you can be warm on the beach from March through October. If you are feeling adventurous, go on a diving expedition. A number of local businesses organize lessons and trips for beginners and experienced divers.
Arrive by plane or by ferry from several locations on the French mainland. The town’s narrow streets and slightly disjointed shape don’t lend themselves well to public transport and there is no bus system. Luckily, Calvi is easily walkable.
In addition to making the most of the town’s historical and natural charms, enjoy an outing on the small train that runs along the coast to Ile Rousse.