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Calvi is a small town in the northeastern part of the French island of Corsica in the Mediterranean. Because of its strategic location, Calvi was often a battleground. During the siege of the city in 1794, Admiral Nelson lost his right eye and swore he never wanted to see the city again.
Calvi started to be marketed as a tourist destination in the 1950s when a Brit of Russian origin – Vladimir Raitz – started organizing charter flights. It became a destination for wealthy Brits. The picturesque town still exudes this luxurious atmosphere as they are mainly luxury yachts for example that call at the port of Calvi.
The Citadel is situated eighty meters above the city on a protruding rock and is one of Calvi's main attractions. The fortress was built in the sixteenth century when Calvi was part of the city state of Genoa. It is hard work to reach the Citadel via the steep stairs, but it is worth it. Fortunately, during your ascent you will pass cafés where you can rest and drink something. The view from the Citadel is overwhelming, especially at sunset.
The Église Santa Maria can be easily recognized by the building's pink color. The interior houses many religious relics, including a statue of Jesus that was carried around the streets of Calvi in 1533, after the Turks raised their siege of the city.
In the shadow of the Citadel, at the end of Boulevard Wilson, you'll find the Monument to the Dead. It is a tribute to all those who died during the many battles that were fought over the city in the past.
The Governor's Palace dates from the thirteenth century but was expanded at the time of the Genoese rule. It is still in use and houses for example the legionnaires of the Foreign Legion.
Each year, on August 15, a huge spectacle takes place in Calvi. During the day, parachutists jump from planes to end up in formation in the sea. At night, there is a spectacular fireworks display, accompanied by classical music and a video projection on the Citadel's walls.
A six-kilometer-long beach stretches out from Calvi's port. Like most beaches on Corsica, this is an extremely clean and sandy beach where you can relax. There are various opportunities for water sports, like jet skiing and water skiing. From Calvi's port, they also organize diving trips to Corsica's coral reefs. If you don't want to dive or snorkel yourself, you can also take a trip with a glass bottom boat. Because of the crystal clear water, this will also give you a good impression of Corsica's marine life. Or you can rent a boat to visit the peninsula of Scandola. Besides coral reefs, you'll find many bird species on this island, which is a nature reserve.
We recommend a trip to the island's interior where you can take beautiful walks through the sometimes rough nature without meeting a single soul. There is a nice viewpoint near the village of Piana. The village is located at an altitude of 450 meters and is a typical example of a Corsican rural community. In the high mountains east of this village, you can find more picturesque villages surrounded by pine and chestnut forests.
And finally there is Bastia at 90 kilometers east of Calvi. Because of the winding roads you do have to calculate at least one and a half hour for the trip though. Bastia is a charming city with the San Giovanni Battiste Church in classical style and the old center, Terra Vechhia, with narrow, winding streets and alleyways.
At least during summer months, it is practically impossible to find a parking space out on the streets in Calvi's center. Fortunately, there are many parking lots around the city and Calvi is small enough to explore by foot. Also keep in mind that Corsica's main roads are generally in good condition, but on the secondary roads there may be unexpected surprises. The motto is to drive carefully on these roads.
Calvi Airport is called Aéroport Ste-Catherine and is located seven kilometers south of the city. It is mainly used by budget airlines. To reach the airport by rental car, first take the road to Bastia from the city center (Avenue Christophe Colomb, road number N197) and then the Route des Artisans (D81) to the airport.