Corsica has a culture all its own and a wealth of age-old traditions, from art and craft to singing and beauty products.
Art and craft
Creativity, authenticity and tradition are the hallmarks of Corsica.Age-old arts and crafts abound on the island, in particular knife-making, jewellery and pottery – you can watch artisans at work in hilltop villages in the Balagne by following the Route des Artisans (Strada di l’Artigiani), and buy souvenirs direct from their workshops or at the market. Local knives are made by hand, beautifully encased in wood from Corsican forests or scrub land, with blades forged using the best steel. Red coral is another emblem of Corsica, naturally occurring in the Straits of Bonifacio and made into precious jewellery. Also look out for handmade musical instruments and beautiful woven baskets.
Corsica has a unique musical tradition of polyphonic choral singing – the rebirth of which was linked to the rise of Corsican nationalism in the 1970s – and it is listed on UNESCO’s list of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’. Concerts are widely given in churches and cathedrals, and are a must-experience on your visit. According to legend, these haunting and uplifting songswere inspired by shepherds who once recounted the events of their daily life in this way. The songs are performed today by groups such as A Filetta, Canta u Populu Corsu.
I Chjami Aghjalesi and I Muvrini, all of whom keep alive this tradition in some truly beautiful spaces. If you’re in Corsica in September, don’t miss the Rencontres Polyphoniques in Calvi, a fantastic celebration of music and song.
Health and beauty
Corsica has its own thriving cosmetics industry produced from the island’s native plants. One of the best-loved ingredients is immortelle, growing wild in the maquis and said to have potent anti-ageing properties, and products can be bought in boutiques across the island.
Food & wine tours
Corsicans are keen to preserve their traditional culture but also like nothing more than sharing this with visitors. Get to know the island through its cuisine by visiting local producers and tasting specialities including charcuterie, cheese, olive oil, honey and chestnut products. An olive oil festival is held in late March in Sainte-Marie-de-Tallano, during which you can visit olive oil mills in the area and taste the oil produced that year. You may also like to take a tour of local wine estates and sample the island’s 10 AOC wines – or go for a walk through the maquis scrub land in the spring and smell the delicate scent of the spring flowers.