Calvi’s illustrious citadel dominates the city’s harbour, watching over a port bustling with luxury yachts dropping anchor, and well-heeled visitors wandering the Quai Landry’s elegant seafront promenade. Cafes and restaurants clink and clatter, while the interplaying voices of trios of Corsica’s polychronic singers provide a wonderfully evocative soundtrack. Calvi’s grand, moon-shaped bay, completes the postcard-perfect appeal, and you can wander the fringe of soft sandy beach which stretches for five miles. Or, dip into the tempting turquoise waves that lap softly against the shore, while admiring the crowning glory of Calvi’s majestic citadel.
The stacked 13th-century Genoese fortress is Calvi’s heart and has played a central role in fending off invaders from across the waves throughout the city’s history. Positioned high above the port, and overlooking the sea below, there’s a labyrinth of cobbled streets tucked in behind its steep, protective walls. The clanging bells of the domed Cathedral St. Jean Baptiste echo evocatively down its stone-clad streets, and the church has a rustic beauty to its faded, sandpapered façade. Reach the ruins of a humble house – destroyed by Lord Nelson’s besiegement of Calvi - and you may raise an eyebrow at the signs proclaiming your arrival at Christopher Columbus’s birthplace. Raise your suspicions with the locals, however, to be met with pityingly smiles at your naïvety – they firmly believe the common theory that he was born in Genoa was a deliberate piece of misinformation spread by Columbus himself.
Twist up through the fragrant pine trees of Chapelle de Notre Dame de la Serra for a spectacular view of Calvi’s majesty unfolding before you. Best appreciated at sunset, you can absorb the view with the last rays of the day bouncing off the tips of the waves below, as you’re embraced by the island’s ragged mountains and Calvi’s timeless beauty.