Corsica, the island nestled between France and Italy in the Mediterranean, is well known for its beautiful sandy beaches, picture-postcard villages perched on clifftops and stunning central mountains—but this August, it doesn’t have as many tourists as usual.
In campsites across the island, there are available spots to rent either for tents or camping cars, and families picnicking in the renowned hiking site of Restonica valley are surprised by how few people there are compared to usual at this time of year.
It is definitely having an impact on businesses, who usually capitalise on August as the busiest time of the year. The owner of the Tuani campsite told franceinfo that there are 30% fewer people now than there were in July. The restaurant owner of L’hôtel Arena Le Refuge Jean-Christophe Barrau, told the news channel that this was the worst season they’ve had in 25 years of business.
Corsica has approximately 3 million visitors each year, many of whom travel from within France or Italy to visit places that many believe are amongst the most beautiful in France, such as Ajaccio, Bonifacio or Porto-Vecchio. Sant’Antonino, for example, was built in the 9th century to defend the region from the Moorish invaders from Spain—with its spectacular 360-degree panoramic views it was never captured and is labelled as one of France’s most beautiful villages, as reported by France24.
This French island has strong ties to Italy and used to be under Italian control—rather controversially for its residents who had declared themselves an Italian-speaking Republic, it was sold to the French king, Louis XV by the Italian Republic of Genoa in 1768 to repay debts. The French government annexed Corsica in 1769, the very same year that one of France’s most famous rulers was born on the island, Napoleon Bonaparte.
The reason for a lack of visitors this August is widely credited to the impacts of inflation and the increased cost of living, which is keeping people from traveling to an island where the ferry is often reported as being incredibly expensive from mainland Europe. In addition, as car hire is up, as well as the cost of food in supermarkets and restaurants, Corsica has found itself a little overlooked cost-wise compared to its other more affordable Mediterranean neighbors.
From a travel perspective, Corsica hit the headlines at the tail-end of the pandemic as travelers began to head back onto its golden beaches to be met by herds of cows who had gotten used to the lack of human nuisance and proved difficult to budge. Some of Corsica’s 15,000-strong cow population took offence at returning humans with one tourist gored in the neck by a cow on Lotu beach while other tourists were chased down the street by cows in Sainte-Lucie-de-Tallano.
In 2019, Corsica hit the headlines for identifying a new mammal species called the cat-fox, legendary amongst locals for generations, but formally identified as being longer than an average cat (measuring around 90 cms) with larger ears, longer canine teeth and a black tuft on the end of its tail.